Old Courthouse Bell Restored For Use in 1970
The Richland Beacon-News
29 Aug 1970, Sat • Page 1
The resounding tones of the courthouse bell have been heard again! After more than twenty years of mute silence, the bell has been appropriately mounted on a concrete foundation on the terrace of the courthouse lawn. The bell, from 1881 to 1950, hung in the belfry of the old courthouse building and it was almost lost when the old building was demolished to make way for the present structure. For the price of $50.00 it was redeemed from the contractor and has been stored in the parish highway barn awaiting the time when sufficient public interest would demand its restoration.
The late Dr. Harrison Jordan has been heard to say that fifty silver dollars were contributed by the people of the parish to be melted and cast in the metal to intensify and enrich the echo. In a hurried search of the minutes of the police jury no specific mention could be found of the bell, however, on May 3, 1881, the police jury authorized advertisement asking for and offering $75.00 reward to-be-paid for the best plans and specifications for a courthouse the entire cost of which must not exceed $10,000.00, and on June 29, 1881, the $75.00 was awarded to Mr. William Stanton, whose plans and specifications were accepted and later the contract for construction of the courthouse was awarded to Messrs. Stanton and Livingston.
No doubt, the belfry, and bell were included in the plans and specifications and were a determining factor in the acceptance of Mr. Stanton’s plan. To many natives of Richland Parish, the courthouse bell is a symbol of a way of life long gone but memories and impressions remain.
Ernest Greer, former custodian of the old courthouse building, when asked about the ringing of the bell, replied by mimicking the late Judge Carey Ellis as ho looked at his watch, hitched his pants and said: “Ernest its time to ring the bell.”
Ernest said the rope had been broken so many times that he had to climb up the 2 x 4’s to ring the bell. And, another impression was the one of our own Registrar of Voters who said she thought the rope to the bell was where they hung people. Mr. H. S. Mangham tells of the story about a Negro who was intermittently arrested for moonshining and after being made a trustee, had finally moved his si ill into the belfry where he could look down on the judge as he sentenced others for the same offense.
Opening of court, sheriff’s sale, and many other important events and summons have been announced by the ringing of the courthouse bell and according to Richard Downes, the slow tolling of the bell announced the death of n prominent person. The mounting of the bell in its present location was supervised by Mr. Henry Smith, Ward Two Police Juror, with assistance from other parish employees and to all who had a part we say “thank you.” Lois CollinsThe Richland Beacon-News
29 Aug 1970, Sat • Page 1