The Washington County Sheriff’s Department has been following leads they have received on a historic bell that was stolen from in front of Valley School in Caledonia.
Washington County Sheriff’s Lt. Chris Barton said they received a call about the bell on July 24, but he believes it may have been stolen during the week prior.
“The original school, Bellevue Collegiate Institute School, operated from 1867 to 1902 and the bell has been at its current location since the late 1980s or early 1990s,” Barton said. “That was when it was moved to the location where it was located.”
Barton said it was on the school property and it had some type of landscaping around it. He added that behind it was where they built a new playground, so it sat on the corner at the intersection of Highway 21 and Route C.
“The bell was mounted on a concrete post with iron,” Barton explained. “There was angle iron attached to the bell and connected to the stone, along with a piece of iron over the top of the bell that was connected to those other pieces.”
Barton said to his knowledge everything was still functional and the bell still moved. He stressed the only thing left is a single piece iron on the left side of the post where the bell once hung.
“I am not sure if they cut it off or if it was just rusty and they were able to pull it off the post,” Barton said. “We have had people call us and tell us there is a bell here or there, but nothing has panned out so far.”
Barton said they have tried to look into several leads, but unfortunately have not found the bell yet. He added this is typical behavior they see with teenagers trying to tear up school property, but it could also have been anyone who took it.
“To my knowledge there is no reward at this time,” Barton said. “It’s just really unfortunate because it’s a piece of history, it can’t be replaced. Something historical that means a lot to the community being taken is really sad.”
Anyone with information about the theft or the bell’s whereabouts are asked to contact Washington County Central Dispatch at 573-438-1079.