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The audible tradition of ringing the church tower bell at Grand Prairie on Sunday morning continues this century in farm country, as it has throughout a long history.

The white frame church was built in 1910 on the site of a smaller one that dated from 1868.  Lightning damaged the first structure ten years after its construction and repairs were needed

The single bell in a tall tower is rung just before worship begins, sending its clear notes pealing over the open fields.  In years gone by, it had been rung twice on Sunday mornings.  The fist time was a least an hour before the service and again later at the traditional time.

Nearby farm families heard the first ringing of the bell as they finished morning chores, an everyday event of rural life.  The distance that the bell could be heard varied, depending on weather conditions and the direction of the wind.

Two separate ropes descended through the ceiling in the front entry of the church to control the sounds made by the bell.  Suspended from a metal yoke stand, the bell is located on a tower platform and is rung by means of a rope.  An earlier wooden wheel, around and through which the rope ran, has been retired, after being worn from years of use and exposure to the elements.

One rope is used to ring the church bell.  A different rope. on the opposite side of the entry, operates the bell’s tolling hammer.  This separate striking mechanism (a toller) produces a solemn, muted sound for use at funerals.  Tolling the bell is achieved by pulling the hammer’s rope, using a slow, uniform cadence.  The stroke of a tolling bell is also known as a knell.

Today, the country church also has an electronic carillon, a memorial gift, with speakers on the bell tower, that plays most days.

In the early 1900s, bells for churches could be purchased in a variety of ways: directly from the foundry where they were cast, from companies specializing in the instruments and even through mail order catalogs.


Vintage Wooden Wheel

Rope for Ringing

Rope for Tolling