Our "Chime of Bells" excerpted from "History of the First United Church of Christ of Easton, Pennsylvania 1745-2004" by James A. Wright
. Photos courtesy of M. Parisi
The church started out with just one bell in the tower.
This 2,000 pound bell was called the Centennial Bell. It was appropriately named for the celebration of our nation’s 100th anniversary in 1876. This bell was operated manually by a rope and pulley system. The bell was rung for many historical events, including the loss of President Abraham Lincoln in 1865, as well as the United States Centennial in 1876.
The church’s additional chime of bells were a direct result of an address given to the congregation by Reverend Henry M. Kieffer on Sunday, November 12th, 1899. Rev. Kieffer suggested that the congregation hold a suitable celebration of its 150th anniversary. Since at that time no other
Easton church had a chime of bells, he suggested putting one in the church tower as an expression of the congregation’s sesquicentennial celebration in 1902.
Rev. Kieffer’s suggestion was so well received that after the service, Miss Mary Alice Huber, Mrs. Thomas Rinek, and Mrs. Matilda Chidsey volunteered subscriptions for three bells. In addition to those
, three other bells were donated by the citizens of Easton in recognition of the church’s great historical role in the town. Two other bells were donated as well. Counting the great Centennial Bell, this now brought the total number of bells to nine.
The famous Neneely Bell Company of Troy, New York, was given the task of manufacturing the eight new bells, as well as removing the original Centennial Bell. This Centennial Bell was removed from the church in September of 1901 so that the eight new bells could be cast in harmony with its tone. A device would now be needed to play the bells, and it is believed at this time a carillon clavier, or keyboard, was installed. Although the carillon is no longer used, parts of it still exist and are in the church steeple.
Research indicates that the church’s first bell carillon player was Edward Osterstock. Mr. Lorriane Arnold was also a player for nearly 40 years. During 1963, the carillon clavier was disconnected and mechanical strikers were added. The bells are played from a small electronic keyboard located next to the church’s Casavant pipe organ. The chime of bells were again played on other historical events, such as the end of World War II in 1945, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy (played by the Reverend George Creitz), and more recently the yearly remembrance of September 11th, 2001.
The following is a chart containing the most accurate data available about the bells.
Bell # Key Weight in lbs. Presented by In Memory Of
1 F 2,000 ------ Centennial Bell of 1876
2 G 1,500 Congregation Rev. Henry M. Kieffer
3 A 1,000 Citizens of Easton “First Church”
4 B Flat 825 Daniel Black Estate James and Mary Black
5 C 550 Mrs. Matilda Chidsey Michael and Elizabeth Butz
6 D 425 Chester B. Fulmer Mrs. Matilda Baker Fulmer
7 E Flat 375 Mrs. Catherine Whitesell Daniel and Catherine
8 E 330 The Zulick Family Anthony & Jane Morton
Zulick and Sons
9 F 280 Mary Alice Huber David and Deborah Huber
View from First Church's Bell Tower