Farm Dinner Bells
Farm bells were first introduced to the American West as a way to signal Indian attacks, or too warn of fires. The tone of the bell was loud enough to call the farmers and their sons in from the fields, or from tending livestock, so they could protect their home and family. The sound was also loud enough to warn others great distances away that danger was at hand. Bells were also used to ring in the birth of a child, call worshippers to church, and even to signal the passing of a loved one.
Primitive farm bells were fashioned after the bells that the cattle wore on their neck. As the need for more bells evolved so did the design. Farm bells were fashioned after locomotive bells. The purpose of these bells was two-fold; to call the children into class and double as church bells on Sundays.
A typical bell weighed anywhere from seventy to one-hundred pounds. Over time, other styles came into existence, the ship's bell, Cape Cod bell, Longhorn Bell, chuck wagon bell, and the steam engine bell.
There is controversy regarding where the first bell was formed. Some say that during the Bronze Age in Asia, dishes and pots of hammered metal were fashioned and then cast in bronze producing loud tones when struck.
Others claim that the first bells were not shaped the same as bells we know of today. Instead, they were flat metal disks that monks wore on their robes. The disks would clang together on the soft rope they were strung on making music as the monks walked through their churches.
Throughout history, many groups found themselves recipients of bells, either because they traded for them, or because they secured the bells after an invasion. Bell is an Anglo-Saxon word meaning "to bellow."
In the middle ages, Monks introduced bells to the Christians, claiming that the tone of the bells possessed the power to drive evil away. That is why church bells ring all over the world today. They are not only signaling the time, or calling worshippers to service, but they are also driving the demons away from the followers. The largest church bell ever made weighed 35,000 pounds
Today, whistles and sirens have taken over the practical application of bells in modern life. Now bells have become a highly prized collectible item. People are hanging them outside their home, or placing them on stands in their garden. Most of these bells are replicas, as authentic bells become harder to find. I have a replica of a Long Horn bell hanging off my back porch. It was there when we bought this old farmhouse.
Now when I ring that bell, it is easy to imagine pioneer women in the 1800's doing the same thing, for the exact same purpose I am; calling the family in to supper.