The Four Bells of Freed-Hardeman University – #1

By Tom L. Childers, Henderson, Tennessee
There is something very magical and memorable about a school bell. Freed-Hardeman University has four of them, three of which were manufactured by the same foundry. Charles Singleton Bell (1829-1905) apprenticed in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to learn the foundry business from his uncle. In 1858, he began his own company called The C. S. Bell Company in Hillsboro, Ohio. In 1875, he began the manufacture of bells. The first year he sold 1,00Essary Springs Bell0 units and by 1890 he had produced over 20,000 in fifteen sizes. His bells were made from an alloy which was cheaper to produce than brass, but more durable than iron. This alloy make for a mellow tone and it was the tone and durability that made his bells famous throughout the world.The oldest of the bells used by FHU originally hung in the building of the Southern Tennessee Normal College started by A. G. Freed in Essary Springs, Tennessee. In 1889, Freed built the school and hung the bell. When Freed moved to Henderson in 1895 to become president of West Tennessee Christian College, he took his school equipment with him, but he left the bell behind. About ten years later, the school at Essary Springs closed, but the building was remodeled and used by the Hardeman County school system. At some point the building, along with the bell, came into the possession of the Essary Springs church of Christ. When the church disbanded in 2008, its property, including the bell, was given to FHU. The 1889 Essary Springs bell is on a portable platform and has been used since 2009 in the Tolling of the Bell ceremony to open each school year. Next, we will give the history of the second oldest bell on the campus of Freed-Hardeman.