Thank you for following along as we work to restore our one room schoolhouse back to life. A little bit of background information, I spent most of my years as a public-school teacher teaching first grade in a two-room schoolhouse in the small town called (of all things) Charm. It was charming! All my students were Amish and many were from families who had grown up going to that very same schoolhouse when K-4 was taught in one classroom and 5-8 in my own classroom. I often felt like the quaint culture of Charm school was surely as close to teaching in a one room schoolhouse as I would ever get. The idyllic experience of Laura Ingalls Wilder and Anne of Green Gables, my two favorite book series from childhood to present, was something I had often thought of but never dreamed would become a reality. And then I read about Rory Feek and how he built a one room schoolhouse on his farm for his daughter, Indiana, who also has Down syndrome. The fact that he redefined what school looked like for his daughter created within me a passion to make a one room schoolhouse a reality for our family.
Once our schoolhouse was here on our farm, I began searching for an antique bell. Because every schoolhouse needs a belltower with a bell! Upon digging into the cast iron bell manufacturers from the mid-late 1800’s I was thrilled to find out one of the largest and well-known companies in our area was in a town called Fredericktown… where I just so happened to have completed my student teaching while in college. So, I began refining my search for a bell made in Fredericktown, from the mid-late 1800s, which had once been atop a one room schoolhouse. To my delight, it didn’t take long until I found one!
The bell I was able to find had once been hung in the belltower of a one room schoolhouse in Lancaster Ohio. It is a New Composition #2 bell manufactured between 1851-1867 by the E.F. Rankin Co. This company was later known as the Fredericktown Bell Co. Originating in 1851, the L.D. Rankin Bell Factory stood on the square in Fredericktown where there is now a parking lot beside of the Fredericktown Historical Museum. L.D. Rankin died in May of 1867. The foundry was then sold to Will Cummings who ran the local lumber yard. He renamed the company Fredericktown Bell Company. In the 1880’s, it was sold to James Bedell Foote and the name was changed to the J.B. Foote Foundry. Soon this bell will once again be ringing out across the valley to call students to school.
May you find joy in the simple things in life,