It never ceases to amaze me the questions I am asked that seem to come out of the blue. Case in point. I received a call last week from a member of the Memorial United Methodist Church about the history of the bells in the church bell tower.

My first reaction was, “What?”

Now, I have been a member of that church since I was a child. I guess you could say I was born into that church, as it was the one where my mother and her brothers and sisters had been members since the LePere family arrived in Farmington in 1915. Never once had I heard a discussion among them about the bells. As far as I knew the Murphy-Long Methodist (former South Methodist, or brick church as it was also known) had one bell that rang as a call to worship, tolled when a member or important personage died, or in jubilation for some great event, such as the ending of World War II. I also supposed it had remained in the church tower when the building was sold to the Freewill Baptist back in the early 1950s.

Seems I was wrong.

The caller said that the bell from that church had been moved to the present day MUMC location built on North Street following the merger between Murphy-Long and the Carleton Methodist (North or Rock) Church.

Didn’t know that. Then came the bomb shell when the caller added that there was a second bell in the MUMC tower and this one came from the former North Ward or Annie-Lloyd School on North Washington Street!

(This old building has also long since been demolished, and the space is now occupied by the Liberty Hall office building complex.)

Sorry to say, this information didn’t ring any bells in my head either! Yes, I had attended first through fourth grades at that old and, thinking back, very dark and daunting-looking school, but little kids really don’t pay much attention to the school bell, except to know to be there before it quits ringing.

Yet, I was being told, that old school bell was now resting in the MUMC bell tower! The caller also asked if I knew how that had come to be. I had no earthling idea (as my son used to say). This was all news to me, and my immediate question was, why would the church have inherited the bell from the old school?

Well, I was informed, there was a possibility that a Methodist church had once stood on that property; did I know about this?

Again, “no”. The only connection I could make was that said church/later school property had been a part of David Murphy’s original land grant, and his first home had been built just a few yards west of there where the Washington-Franklin School now stands. Furthermore, his mother, Sarah Barton Murphy had donated land for the first Methodist Church in the community. More than that, I had absolutely no thoughts except, “We need to ask Jack Clay”!

A knee-jerk reaction, as the late Jack Clay had known the history of this community, its buildings, businesses and people inside and out. Unfortunately, this good man had passed to his well-earned reward a few years ago.

The summation of this call was that I had been no help, but I did provide some names of other people to contact who might be far more aware of the history of the bells than I was.

In the meantime, I am left to wonder: how did the bells come to MUMC and why do the bells now toll there?

And an addendum: why have weeds and trees been allowed to grow up around the old Murphy spring house on North Washington Street, completely concealing it? I had thought it and the bit of land where it stands had been donated to the city as an historic park. Whether or not this is the case, the spring house is the last remaining original edifice of the community’s founders and, as such, needs to be maintained with respect and great care.

Mr. Mayor, City Councilmen, Parks & Recreation Department, Historic Sites committee, and History Museum advocates: I do hope this isn’t going to be a case of “out-of-sight, out-of-mind” until this venerable structure can quietly be eliminated.

Let’s clear away the unsightly growth and make this irreplaceable landmark again visible. If our city’s slogan is to remain “A Community of Tradition and Progress,” it’s time to prove it.

A gathering of friends….Ray Roberts and his wife, Sallie, were recently in town to visit his uncle and aunt, Clinton and Jeannie Roberts, other family members and high school friends. Ray is the pastor of the River Roads Presbyterian Church in Richmond, Virginia. While here he a group of friends met him for breakfast at 12West Restaurant. Among those who were there to enjoy reminiscing with him were: Karen Straughan Young, Mark Douglas, Frazgo Fraz, and Leslie Jones. Ray is the son of the late Ray Roberts Jr. and grandson of Ray Roberts Sr. who were both well-known attorneys in Farmington.

Needing a ‘Leg Up”…..We wish quick and full recoveries to Jhena Copeland, who had knee surgery earlier this week at Parkland Health Center, and to Carol Currington Faircloth who also recently had surgery on her left leg and is now recuperating at home. Get-well cards are appreciated by both.

Congratulations to.....Kellie Coleman Hartmann and Chris Hartmann on the Aug. 7 birth of their daughter, Olivia Grace. Olivia’s arrival was happily embraced by all of her family.

Coming up:

Monday, Sept. 4….Labor Day and the last day the Farmington Water Park is open to the public. Then on Tuesday, Sept. 5, the annual "Hot Dippity Dog" at the Farmington Water Park will be held. Owners are invited to bring their canine pets and enjoy an evening of swimming with them. This is the last day before the closing of the park for the season. There is no charge, but donations to the Farmington Pet Adoption Center are much appreciated. Owners must accompany their pets at all times and it’s a very fun day for owners and dogs alike.

Saturday, Sept. 9….An Appalachian Craft Fair will be in Farmington and open to the public from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. The Fair is provided by the Red Bird Mission as a way to market the unique crafts handmade by artisans of the southeastern portion of Kentucky. The Fair is hosted at Memorial United Methodist Church with all proceeds going to the Red Bird Mission to underwrite their many programs that benefit the residents in that low-income region. A large variety of items will be for sale, including hand-carved wooden utensils and toys, Christmas decorations, woven fabrics, jewelry, musical instruments, and even some figurines carved from coal. The public is invited to attend the Fair to enjoy viewing and purchasing the work of these craftsmen and at the same time, support and learn more about the programs of the Red Bird Mission. MUMC is located just off Karsch Boulevard at 425 North St. with an ample parking.

Have an enjoyable and safe Labor Day. And don’t forget the people of Texas who are victims of the Hurricane Harvey and floods. A word of warning: donate ONLY to the well-established organizations you personally know who will be aiding the flood victims. Don’t fall for the scammers who will be calling and asking for money under a variety of names. The American Red Cross is the safest bet or your own church’s effort.

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