MARSHALL, Tx. (KSLA) -The Marshall Fire Department is working hard to restore a piece of the city’s history.
Right now the department is working on a restoration project for its historic alarm bell. The 140-year-old bell has been in different locations across the city for decades — but it’s now back in the hands of the fire department.
It sat inside the Harrison County Courthouse’s historical museum before they gave the bell back to the department.
“It’s a great part of history,” said Assistant Fire Marshal Lt. Scott Barmore. “I’m glad we still have it. A lot of cities, their history has been lost of the years through salvage or theft, so it’s pretty exciting that we’ve been able to hold onto it for so long.”
According to documents from the city of Marshall, the first fire department organized in the city was the Salamander Volunteer Fire Company in 1871.
Next came the Stonewall Volunteer Fire Company No. 1 which later added the Stonewall Hook and Ladder Company. The Stonewall Company became assistants and competitors of the Salamanders.
Other companies like the Texas and Pacific Railroad Fire Company, and the North Star Fire Company were added as well.
By 1876 the Salamanders, Stonewall and T&P Companies all joined together to operate as the the Fire Department of the City of Marshall, but the companies still held their original names and occupied their separate stations.
It was in April 1877 when the Salamander Company purchased the city’s historic alarm bell.
The bell weighs 900 pounds and was made by the R. Register and Sons company in Baltimore, Maryland.
City documents say the Salamanders and the Stonewall Fire Department joined together to actually purchase this bell.
The bell rang out in the city until the early 1920s. The bell has been at several different locations throughout the years including the old Central Fire station before it was destroyed by a fire in 1923, the Northside Fire Station and then the Harrison County Historical Museum in 1966.
Fire Chief Reggie Cooper says once they got the bell back, they kept this project a secret for awhile, but the Marshall Lions Club played a big role in getting things started.
“They were going along and they had built up several amounts of money in cash flow,” Cooper said. “They wanted to give some of that money away, and so they had stopped by the sheriff’s department, the police department and the fire department and asked what do you want to do?”
Cooper believe that was the perfect opportunity for them to help kick start this project. The Lions Club ended up donating $9,500 to their nearly $15,000 project.
Since then Cooper says other organizations, businesses and school have not only donated money but their time to help with this project.
Right now the department is short $6,000. That money will go towards creating the concrete pad the bell will sit on. Cooper says once everything is complete the bell will sit outside the central fire station between its two flag poles.
The fire department is wanting to have everything complete in time for the National Fall Firefighters Foundation’s annual Bells Across America event on Oct. 5 and Oct. 6. Fire departments from across the country participate and honor fallen firefighters who have lost their lives in the line of duty.
The department would like to have the bell included on the foundation’s interactive map.
With the end almost near for the projects completion, Chief Cooper and others with the department are excited to finally have the bell up and ringing again.
“It’s going to mean a whole lot to me as a fire chief,” he said. “Being able to preserve history, being able to get a project accomplished such as this...(it’s) something that only we will cherish, but it’s going to be set in a place where many other people can actually pass by and see as well.”
“I just want to hear it ring,” said assistant chief Joey Hudson. “I want to hear the sound, and to know that it’s back in its place, it’s back in its home...it can be a thing that we can treasure and remember and honor for the rest of the history of the fire department."
If you would like to donate to help finish funding this project you can stop by or mail your donation to the central fire station located at 601 South Grove Street in Marshall, Texas.
Cooper says in the memo include your donation is going towards the historic bell restoration project.