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C.S. Bell Co. and ringing in the new year

Lead Summary
Steve Roush-
“The bells ring out; the hoary steeple rocks – Hark! the long story of a score of clocks; For, once a year, the village clocks agree, E’en clocks unite to sound the hour of glee – And every cottage has a light awake, Unusual stars long flicker o’er the lake.”

Hartley Coleridge (1796–1849), “New-Year’s Day,” Poems, 1833

Ladies and gentlemen, don’t look now, but another year is about to reach its ineluctable conclusion.

Yes, as the clock moves toward the midnight hour on Dec. 31, the year of our Lord 2018 will take its final bow while folks near and far ring in another New Year.

Speaking of ringing in the New Year, folks will be gathered at the Highland House Museum in uptown Hillsboro on New Year’s Eve for the ringing of the venerable C.S. Bell at midnight again this year. Justin Harsha, who is a member of the board of trustees of the Highland County Historical Society and manager of the Scott House for the society, Hillsboro City councilman, president of the Hillsboro Cemetery Association, co-chair of the Festival of the Bells Committee, and a sixth-generation proprietor of the Harsha Monument Company, will once more do the honors of ringing the bell.

And speaking of the Harsha Monument Company and C.S. Bells, the Harsha Monument Company was established in 1854, and the C.S. Bell Company was established in 1858 by Charles Singleton “C.S.” Bell.

The C.S. Bell Company was a landmark in Hillsboro for generations, and with our theme of ringing in the New Year, let’s take a quick look back at an old C.S. Bell Company catalog from 1894. In 1894, C.S. Bell was president of the company, C.E. Bell was treasurer and
L.B. Boyd was secretary.

In its introduction, the 125-year-old catalog apprises potential bell buyers, “We have made many valuable improvements in the manufacture of Steel Alloy Bells, and we can desire this medium to call your attention to this matter.

“Desiring to incorporate the result of many years of practical experience in the manufacture of Bells, we have reconstructed all our Bell patterns and added some new ones, thus increasing our very large line of this class of goods, so that we believe we have the largest assortment of Bells adapted to the greatest variety of uses that has ever been offered to the public.

“The improvements made include the quality of the metal used, which improves the tone and greatly adds to the strength of the bells. We have also improved the shape of the bells and mountings, adding greatly to the appearance and ease of ringing. Our roller-bearing improvement and/or improved adjustable springs are the most valuable improvements ever made in this class of Bells. The alarm bells have been greatly improved, so that with the superior metal we are now making, they are the best of their class.

“We have constructed a series of farm bell patterns adapted to steel alloy metal and are casting them of this metal in the most careful manner, and we are pleased to present this new manufacture to the trade. The numerous voluntary letters that we are receiving daily, a few of which we place before you, is good evidence that any business entrusted to us will receive fair and honorable treatment.

"We may be permitted to say that we take pride in the fact that we have been engaged in the business of making bells for over 40 years. Our trade in bells has increased every successive year since we began our business. We have brought out more improvements in design and material peculiar to this class of bells than any other firm in this business. Our designs and improvements have been copied in all directions, our adopted trademark has
been pirated, and every device has been used to divert trade so honestly won by us.

“We are pleased to know that these efforts have not decreased our business, nor alienated our many friends; for today we are making more bells, and the letters of commendation are more flattering than ever before. We could print thousands of genuine letters from our customers, if it were necessary to do so, showing how well we have fulfilled our representations. With many thanks for liberal patronage in the past, we solicit a
continuance. – The C.S. Bell Co., Hillsboro, Ohio, U.S.A.”

C.S. Bell was a prominent citizen of Hillsboro, built Bell’s Opera House in 1895 at a cost of $40,000 and is still regarded as one of the town’s greatest benefactors.

To this day, C.S. Bell Company bells can be found all over the world. Oh, and if you’re curious as to how much C.S. Bells cost back in 1894, the larger school and church bells, ranging from 20 to 54 inches in diameter with a weight of 165 to 3,150 pounds for the bell and mountings, ranged from $16 to $375. Farm bells ranged from $6 to $16 in price.

And as bells from all over await pealing to usher out the year and welcome in yet another, I close this offering by wishing all of you a very Happy New Year!

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

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