Monday, June 12, 2017

Naylor Vickers bells in Oregon

Corvallis College, which operated from 1858 to 1868, had Naylors Vicker Co. bell number 1629 that was the subject of Martha Fraundorf's blog that preceeded this one. Four 19th century church bells made by Naylor Vickers Co. of Sheffield, England, are known to be in Oregon. 

British author George A. Dawson has published a series of books about British-made church bells and he maintains informative databases which are available on his web site ( His North American spreadsheet lists four Oregon bells, all of which date to the era of 1858-1860. In addition to the Corvallis College bell (no. 1629), there is currently one in Eugene, a second at Linfield College, and a third in Jacksonville.

Naylor Vickers bell No. 995 at
Central Lutheran Church, Eugene
Bell number 995 (made in 1859) currently hangs in the courtyard of the Central Lutheran Church in Eugene, across the street from the Eugene Pioneer Cemetery and the University of Oregon campus.

Bell number 889 (also made in 1859) graces the lobby of Riley Hall at Linfield College.  Archivist Rachael Woody wrote about the bell in 2012 (, noting that for over a century “It signaled athletic victories and successful college fund drives. The sound of the bell was heard throughout all of McMinnville”. 

Naylor Vickers bell No. 889, Linfield College,
McMinnville, OR. Photo by archivist Rich Schmidt.

St. Joseph’s Catholic Church,
Jacksonville, OR
The third bell has continuously served the St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Jacksonville since 1858. According to Margaret LaPlante's book "Jacksonville" (Southern Oregon Historical Society (c) 2010), "St. Joseph's Catholic Church was dedicated in November 1858.  The bell that beckoned the townsfolk to Sunday mass weighed 297 pounds and was cast in Sheffield, England, and then shipped around the Horn."

Bill Fendall with Blymyer Norton & Co.
bell in Philomath College cupola, 1970's.
All of this bell research inspired me to climb the ladder in the cupola of the Philomath College building. The bell suspended there is also a steel bell but it was made by Blymyer Norton & Co., Cincinnati, Ohio.  In the archive of Benton County Historical Society we found that Lena Coiner Ringland, a student at Philomath College in 1917, wrote that the bell was purchased in 1867 for a sum of $250. The bell called students to classes and for church services. According to Ringland, the students referred to the bell as the “Liberty Bell of the West”.
Philomath College bell at Benton County Museum, Philomath, OR

By Mark Tolonen, BCHS Curator of Exhibitions

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