News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

December 25, 2013

Church bell tolls no more

Bell cast in 1855 reduced to a pile of melted metal by fire

PRAIRIE CREEK — For more than a century, a bell rang to signal the faithful that it was time for church in a small southern Vigo County town.  

But when a late night blaze ravaged Prairie Creek First Baptist Church on Dec. 5 — amid a snow storm and ice-covered roads — the same church bell melted and fell into the basement level, like much of the burning building.

The church bell was in the steeple, on the south end of the church, and “the steeple was the last thing to fall,” Pastor Kevin Dobson told the Tribune-Star the morning after the fire.

The bell was cast in 1855, more than 20 years before the church was constructed in 1876.

“The fire was just so hot,” it melted the bell, Dobson said.

But a portion of the bell remains and is currently in one lifelong congregation member’s house.

At his property in Prairie Creek, Dan Watson on Christmas Day examined what remains of the “massive” church bell.

Watson was unsure of the weight of the bell but he said even just what remains of it is very heavy. He estimated the bell to be about 36 inches tall.

The bell, which Watson thought might be made of alloys, was retrieved from the church basement by congregation members as they dug through the ashes after the fire.  

It was — and is — an important part of the church.

“Lots of kids have been lifted into the air by the weight of that bell over the years,” Pastor Dobson said.

Watson, who has attended the church for more than 60 years, “since I was born,” has fond memories.

“It’s [the bell] been used all my life,” he said. “When I was a little kid, we rang it.”

There was a big rope that kids pulled to ring the bell, said Watson, who remembers having to “grab on tight” when the bell lifted him up.

So he rang the bell “every chance I got.”

“It was fun.”

When some congregation members took what remains of the bell to Watson’s home after the fire, he barely recognized it as part of his childhood.

“I didn’t see it. I didn’t know there was a bell there because it didn’t look like a bell,” Watson said.

“I was hoping we [would] find it intact,” he added.

When the fire took place, construction was under way to add on to the 137-year-old church.

The congregation, which consists of about 80 people, now gathers at the community center in Prairie Creek.

Despite an offer from a church in Prairieton to use its building, the congregation decided to stay in town.

“We’re a community church. Our folks really just wanted to stay in Prairie Creek,” Dobson said.

The church had insurance to replace the old portion that was destroyed, but the insurance will not provide enough money to pay for much of the interior. Neither will it pay for a new bell.

But the community is determined to rebuild the church and replace the bell.

And it has received help from an unexpected source this Christmas.

A young girl who now lives out of state sent a dollar to help replace the church. Dobson, also a counselor, worked with the girl in the past.

“She sent me a dollar. That’s really what [Christmas] is all about,” Dobson said.

Tribune-Star Reporter Dianne Frances D. Powell can be reached at 812-231-4299 or dianne.powell@tribstar.com. Reporter Arthur Foulkes contributed to this report.

 

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local & Bistate
Latest News
TribStar.com Poll
AP Video
Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle Raw: Otters Enjoy Water Slides at Japan Zoo Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Two Women Narrowly Avoid Being Hit by Train Raw: Deadly Landslide Hits Indian Village Raw: Plane Lands on New York Highway Raw: 16 Killed in Gaza Market Strike Southern Accent Reduction Class Cancelled in TN 3Doodler Bring 3-D Printing to Your Hand LeBron James Sends Apology Treat to Neighbors Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Harding Love Letters Now Open to Public Obama Chides House GOP for Pursuing Lawsuit Raw: Guinea Rap Concert Stampede Kills 33+ 3 People Killed, Deputies Wounded in NC Shootout Crayola Announces Family Attraction in Orlando Russia Counts Cost of New US, EU Sanctions Raw: Amphibious Landing Practice in Hawaii Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma
NDN Video
Heartwarming 'Batkid Begins' Documentary is Tear-Jerker What Drama? Miranda Kerr Poses Topless Woman's Dive Goes Terribly Wrong Plane crashes in San Diego Costco parking lot Justin Bieber Takes To Instagram To Diss Orlando Bloom You Won't Believe the Celeb Cameos in "Sharknado 2" Pitch Invading Morons Cause Chaos - @TheBuzzeronFOX Orlando Bloom 'Takes a Swing' at Justin Bieber In Ibiza Sadie Doesn't Want Her Brother to Grow Up "Maxim" Hotness! See Jessica Alba's Sizzling Spread Two women barely avoid being hit by train Broken Water Main Floods UCLA Orlando Bloom and Justin Bieber Reportedly Came To Blows In Ibiza Meet the Man Behind Dumb Starbucks Chris Pratt Adorably Surprises Kids at a 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Screening NOW TRENDING: Peyton Manning dancing at practice "The Bachelorette" Makes Her Decision Thieves pick the wrong gas station to rob Golden Sisters on '50 Shades' trailer: 'Look At That Chest!' Staten Island Man's Emotional Dunk Over NYPD Car - @TheBuzzeronFOX
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
  • -

     

    March 12, 2010

activity