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Historical Highlights

The Bells of Sand Lake

Ross French in the SL Baptist Church tower

The late Ross French is shown here in 2002, climbing the bell tower of the Zion United Church of Christ, Taborton, to view their bell. There are many others in the town!

The Hudson Mohawk Industrial Gateway's Meneely bells program on May 19, 2002, the 200th anniversary of Andrew Meneely's birth, has given a renewed interest in bells and was the impetus to researching the bells within our town. The networking has been fun and enlightening.

Most interesting while working on this article was the networking with the church historians, Thelma Culver (Taborton), Edwina Randall (Church of the Covenant) and Marion Smauder (Salem United Methodist) and West Sand Lake Fire Company historian Michele Sprague. Personnel at the other places were very helpful as well. And contacts with the "farmers" at Methodist Farm were local and as far as Florida.

The project saw a "ripple effect" when Joe Connors, Arthea Connors Gibbs' son, who is a chimer for St. Patrick's Church in Troy, became very interested in our project. He loves bells and grew up in Sand Lake. Joe came out to Sand Lake, and he and Ross French climbed towers, photographed bells and got several of the inscriptions of all the available bells in the town for the accompanying collage.

Joe, a bell historian, secured more information from original Meneely bell records. Joe has also made these records available to the Hudson Mohawk Industrial Gateway, who in turn put these records on the Internet. You can also visit Joe's web site, which has abundant information about chimes and bells. A special thanks, Joe, for your help.

An added beauty of this search is that other bells, from a farm or forgotten place, will surface. Buried facts will surface about some of these bells, making this a history, completed with the knowledge available only to the day of this writing. -- by Mary French, from the Winter 2003 issue of Historical Highlights; additional information added 2019. Photos by Joe Connors, with help from Ross French.

Where the information was available, the information given at the end of each entry below "decodes" as follows. For example:

[12/17/1901; 30"; 100 lb.; 'C'; $50.00]
[date purchased; diameter; weight; tone; original price where noted]

Click on a bell to see a larger version.

The two bells at Church of the Covenant, Averill Park, NY. Click on the image for a larger version.

There are two bells in front of the Church of the Covenant in Averill Park.

West Troy Meneely bell at Church of the Covenant

The first bell is a 700-pound bell purchased in 1840 [33"; 700lb.; B] from the (Andrew) A. Meneely Bell Co. of West Troy (Watervliet) for the First Presbyterian Church of Sand Lake (now Sand Lake Center for the Arts). Interestingly, that church's bell tower was built in 1890. There is an unanswered question: Where was the bell located from 1840 until 1890?


Troy Meneely bell at Church of the Covenant

The second is an 830-pound Clinton H. Meneely (Troy) bell [6/17/1886; 34"; 800lb.; Bb; $200.00] for the Averill Park Methodist Episcopal Church, which was located four buildings in from Route 43 on Burden Lake Road. It is inscribed as follows:

JUNE 17, 1886





St. Henry's Roman Catholic Church has a 603-pound bell purchased in 1881 from Clinton Meneely Bell Co. Inscribed is:

AD 1881
(On opposite is inscribed):

LEONE XIII is Leo 13th , Pope at the time. Does anyone know the reference to FRANCISCOI, ALBANIENSKI?

Another unanswered question: What happened to the bell from St. Mary's in the Woods, East Poestenkill, the German Catholic Church that became St. Henry's?

The bell at St. Henry's, Averill Park

A view of the electrified ringing mehcanism on St. Henry's bell.

A closeup of the ringing and tolling hammers on St. Henry's bell.

[9/30/1881; 31"; 603lb.; B]

  Pictures, clockwise from top: the bell at St. Henry's, Averill Park; a closeup of the ringing and tolling hammers; a view of the electrified ringing mehcanism. Click on any of the above for a larger version.

Bell at Sand Lake Baptist Church.

[9/1890; 37"; 1000lb; A; $300.00]

Sand Lake Baptist Church, the oldest public building in the Town of Sand Lake, has the receipt for a 1,018-pound bell purchased in September 1890 from Clinton Meneely Bell Co. for $300.00. This replaced an 1805 bell whose whereabouts are unknown.

It has Latin inscriptions [translated] as follows:

[I praise the true God]
[I call the people]
[I mourn the dead]
[I honor the feasts]
[I sing the Sabbaths]
[I wake up the sluggish]

On opposite is inscribed):

A.D. 1890

During the time when Americans were being held hostage in Iran, the bell was tolled at noon 52 times, once for each hostage. On August 10, 1980, Congressman Gerald Solomon presented the church with an American flag that had flown over the nation's Capitol for this exceptional community service.

In the front yard of Lake Avenue Community Church (formerly St. Henry's School and Convent and soon to become home of Skyhigh Adverntures)is the bell relocated from the Alps Baptist Church. It is unique because the tolling hammer can be seen on the side of the bell. This is a 620-pound Clinton Meneely bell purchased in 1876, with "Meneely and Kimberly" markings on the yoke. [Update 2021: The Lake Avenue Community Church has since relocated to the former Trinity Lutheran Church, West Sand Lake, and is now known as the ...... Church. The building retains its electronic carillon with an outside speaker. The old Alps Baptist Bell bell will be installed on their front lawn soon!]

[11/14/1876; 31"; 620lb.; B; $190.00]

Lake Avenue Community Church bell; click for a larger version.

SLHS's own Ross French prepares to climb the tower to view the bell at Zion UCC. Click for a larger image.

Zion's United Church of Christ of Taborton has a 300-pound bell purchased for $90.00 from the Jones Foundry Co. in Troy. It was dedicated on New Year's Day in 1882. There is no inscription on the bell.

[1882; 24"; 300lb,; E; $90.00]

Click here for more about the Church and their recent anniversary!

The bell at the Zion United Church of Christ, Taborton. Click for a larger version.

closeup of Salem United Methodist Church bell

[6/20/1891; 37"; 1014lb.; A; $250.00]

The following is from Salem United Methodist Church historian Marion Smauder:

We at Salem United Methodist Church of West Sand Lake are the proud owners of a Meneely bell. It was cast by the Clinton Meneely Bell Co. in Troy, NY. The bell was delivered to what was then Salem Church, Evangelical Association on June 30, 1891. It was brought to the church by Edward Welker, a church member on his flat bed wagon drawn by his team of horses.

How and by whom it was hoisted to the high church tower we do not know. It hung in this place, where it was rung every Sunday, until it was taken down by William Carey from the Albany Crane Co. and moved on Wednesday, August 18, 1971, to its new home on the grounds of the Salem United Methodist Church on Shaver Road in West Sand Lake. There you will find it today on a rocky knoll near the church.

Mrs. Anna (Laiback) Zweig financed the moving of the bell as a memorial to her husband, Merrill Zweig. A bronze plate stating this information can be found in the narthex of the church.
The bell weighs 1,014 pounds and was cast (1part) Block tin from Maylay Straits, Singapore, India and (3½ parts) ingot copper from Minnesota Copper Mines. It is a genuine cast bronze bell. This information was given to me from Edward Kehn from Wynantskill. Mr. Kehn [was] from Kehn's Bell Service, third generation of Kehn family with the former Meneely Bell Co. "Meneely made the best bells obtainable, and the one you have is no exception," said Mr. Kehn.

During this current year of 2002, our bell was used in reverence as a reminder of two special days. Mike Davis rang it in honor of Mr. Andrew Meneely. All the Meneely bells in this area were to peal out at a special time on May 19th. Woody Hacker rang it in remembrance of the tragic attacks by terrorists to our country on September 11, 2001.

Salem United Church (West Sand Lake) bell. Click for a larger version.

The bell bears these inscriptions:

A.D. 1891


(on opposite side of bell)


Stop by sometime and see a bit of our history in our church yard.

The Jones bell in the West Sand Lake Bible Baptist Church. Click for a larger version.

The Bible Baptist Church of West Sand Lake now occupies the former West Sand Lake Methodist Church property. The bell is still in the belfry and is a Jones Foundry Co. bell, which weighs 600 pounds and was purchased in 1865. Inscribed is:


[1865; 30"; 600lb.; C]

The Sand Lake District #7 School bell has remained in its original location at what is now the Sgt. Walter Adams American Legion Post No. 1021. It is a 150-pound bell purchased in 1893 from Clinton H. Meneely Bell Co. It is inscribed:


(on opposite side of bell)


[11/30/1893; 19½"; 152lb.; A; $50.00]

Sand Lake District #7 School bell

Linda Ormsby's steel bell. Click for a larger version.

Linda Ormsby has two bells at her home.

At left is a steel bell 14 ½" in diameter.

At right is a railroad bell.

Linda Ormsby's railroad bell. Click for a larger version.

The Fire Company is also in possession of a locomotive bell that was mounted on their Sanford fire engine from 1929-65. Then it was put on the new fire engine and remained there (circa. 1966-99). Known as the "Sanford Bell," it now occupies a position of honor in their trophy case.

West Sand Lake Fire Company has a bell, still in the belfry of the original fire house. On June 27, 1883, a 104-pound bell was purchased from the Clinton H. Meneely Bell Co. for $36.00. Subscriptions were raised to pay for the bell and to erect a bell tower. Cost of the bell tower was $43.28. In October the bell was set in its present position. Inscribed on the bell is:

A.D. 1883

In addition to ringing the bell for fires it was rung for calling the Fire Company meetings to order. James H. Bailey was Chairman of the Board of Fire Commissioners during the 1940s. When his daughters, Jeane and Norma, had the responsibility of ringing the bell for fires, there was sometimes an argument over whose turn it was to ring the bell!

The bell at the old West Sand Lake Firehouse.

[6/27/1883; 104lb.; C; $36.00]

bell at Methodist Farm

Methodist Farm (Crooked Lake) has a locomotive bell that was a gift from the D&H Railroad through Elmer Yaddow who worked for the railroad. When the chapel was completed (circa. 1958) from an existing pavilion, the bell was mounted in the belfry. It is rung on Sundays at 6:30 and 6:45 p.m. to call "all farmers" and their guests to Vespers at 7:00 p.m.

The history of the Averill Park & Sand Lake Fire Company notes that fire alarms tolled out on the village church bells. We can draw the conclusion that they never had a bell on the firehouse. But like West Sand Lake, Averill Park-Sand Lake had a bell on their 1928 Seagrave, pictured here.

Averill Park-Sand Lake Fire Company's 1928 Seagrave. Note bell on cowling near driver. Click on the picture for a larger version.

Notes and questions about other town locations:

All photos by Joe Connors except for the 1928 Seagrave (Averill Park-Sand Lake Fire Company archives) and West Sand Lake Elementary School (Averill Park Central School District photo).

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The official logo of the Sand Lake Historical Society12/5/2002. Revised 4/3/21 -- asm © 2002-2022 Sand Lake Historical Society; all rights reserved.