September 13, 2017, 1:27 PM


An article featured in The Herald of February, 1958.



            The cheery sound of the old church bell peeling out its invitation to “Come to Church” lives in all our memories.  We recall Mr. Judd Readhead standing in the entry, watch in hand ready to start pulling the bell rope as we dashed at the last minute into the church.  The old bell was a part of the community.  The New Year wasn’t official until the local yokels had gained entry to the church and triumphantly ushered in the year with a raucous bell ringing.  At Halloween season boys and girls hurried off the streets when the curfew sounded by the old church bell.

            Earlier than most of us recall another local custom was the “tolling of the Bell” at funerals.  For a real eye-witness account of this ne’er forgotten procedure we are indebted to Mr. D.S. McGaughey.  As a small boy, Mr. McGaughey went up in the belfry arch with Mr. Carden, the current sexton, and saw the bell toll.  From the bell tower one could see all over Mt. Zion, in those days and when Mr. Carden saw the horse-drawn hearse and family buggies pulling away from the house of the deceased, he began to toll the bell, one for each year of the person’s life.  Tolling was done in either of two ways, by tapping the outside of the bell with a hammer or by striking the inside of the bell with the clapper.  In this dignified way, the funeral service began.

            To return to the present, what is the story of our own bell?  This was the bell used in the old Mt. Zion Academy.  It was a gift to the school from Mrs. Frances Mariam Smith.  All good stories should have a surprise in them, so here is ours.  The bell was the premium given to the holder of the lucky ticket in the Louisiana Lottery!  After the closing of the Academy the bell was used in the White Grade School.

            Mr. McGaughey stored the bell in his basement after the old building was dismantled and when our new church was finished but bell-less, someone remembered the old Academy bell.  It was cleaned and burnished; it fit beautifully and proudly into the belfry arch.

                                                                        Betty Davison