“That all-softening, overpowering knell, The tocsin of the soul – the dinner bell.”
– Lord Byron (1788-1824)

Ladies and gentlemen, since last week’s offering, I have become the proud owner of my very own C.S. Bell Co. farm bell.

When we last spoke, our confabulation centered on how a church is incomplete without a bell – this according to a 125-year-old catalog distributed by the C.S. Bell Co. of Hillsboro in the year of our Lord 1894.

One might figure they’d say the same thing about farm bells. And if that’s what you figured, you figured correctly. But a farm can’t have just any ordinary bell – it needs a C.S. Bell Co. bell, by golly.

Let’s go directly to page 28 of the catalog. “Believing the time has come when the prosperous farmers of this country require something better than an ordinary Iron Bell heretofore sold, we have constructed a set of patterns adapted to Steel Alloy Metal, and are casting them in the most careful manner as our large Church Bells, and the result is a very fine-toned Bell, one that can be heard much farther than the common Farm Bell, and, as the tone is entirely different, they can readily be distinguished from others in the surrounding neighborhood.

“We have provided two forms of erection. One form is provided with a cap that fits over top of a post, with a socket on top into which the standard or upright arms drop, and are held rigidly in position to receive the bell.

“The form gives a very substantial support, as there are no bolts to rust out and annoy when a new post is required, and this cap protects the top of the post from decay. The other is of the pedestal form, with socket to receive the bell. This pedestal can be set on any level platform, and a few wood screws secures it in position, and makes a very graceful and substantial arrangement for the bell.

“All of these bells are provided with a signal arrangement, by which a certain number of taps can be given, and, when a proper code of signals are arranged, any particular person can be called or other information given.

“These Farm Bells must not be confused with the Crystal Metal Farm Bells, of which we are the largest manufacturer in the world, but are a distinct manufacture made of the same metal as our large Church Bells, and to distinguish them from all others we cast the words ‘Steel Alloy’ on each bell, and they are numbered by the size of the bell in inches in the same manner as our Church and School Bells.

“For many years we have led the market in Farm Bells; our make being the acknowledged standard bell of this country, as the greatest claim set up by other manufacturers is that their bells are equal to ours.

“In order to show what little right they have to this claim, it is only necessary to state that in nearly every case they have appropriated our castings to make patterns, thus showing a poverty of invention only equaled by a lack of ability to produce first-class bells. (All I have to say to that is wow! I love it!)

“We shall continue to produce these bells in our usual superior style, and the trade is assured in handling them they have the best there is made.”

And, as we all know, the C.S. Bell Co. did just that, producing quality bells for many generations.

In 1894, the company said its Hillsboro foundry was of capacity to make 200 farm bells and 50 steel alloy bells per day. The company said it had the foundry running six days every week, maintaining that “we assure our patrons that we can and will give their orders prompt attention.”

On that note, let’s pause for now, and we’ll continue next week.

Steve Roush is a vice president of an international media company, is vice chairman of the Highland County Historical Society Board of Trustees and is a columnist and contributing writer for The Highland County Press. He can be reached by email at roush_steve@msn.com.