WAXHAW, NC – It was a beautiful, clear, and cool afternoon, and I had just completed some grocery shopping at the new Publix on Providence by New Town Road. Like I’ve done hundreds of times before, I put my groceries in the back of the car, started the engine, and set my sights on home. However, today was different. As I exited the parking lot, I spied something unusual out the corner of my eye. “Is that a bell?” I said to myself. “It sure looks like a bell! And a BIG one!”
It’s not that a bell is so unusual. But a bell sitting all by itself on top of a pedestal in the middle of a vacant wood area? Well, that’s not exactly something you see every day. It screams “mysterious,” “unusual,” and “Hey, there’s an interesting story here!”
I needed to find out more! I made my way to the spot on foot. Sure enough, a large bell was sitting atop a red brick pedestal, right there in the middle of this wooded area. I couldn’t help but wonder: how exactly did it come to be there? I knew there was a forgotten story behind this mysterious object.
There were a few clues to be had. The pedestal is substantial, built from red brick and masonry. However, it looks to have once been covered with a veneer of more decorative white brick, nearly all of which is now gone. The bell sits atop the pedestal, and the yoke bears the marking, “The C S Bell Co” on one side, and “Hillsborough, O” on the other. It’s around 3-feet in diameter. Much to my delight, the clapper is still there. I couldn’t resist the temptation. It rang absolutely beautifully!
A quick Internet search revealed that “The C S Bell Company” once operated in Hillsboro, Ohio. Sadly, it no longer exists, but there is an interesting Facebook Page dedicated to the company and its history. Turns out the letters C S are the founder’s, Charles Singleton’s, initials. The company started in 1853 and manufactured bells of various shapes and sizes until the 1990s.
But how did one of their bells end up here, all alone in this vacant wood here in Union County? Despite living here more than 25 years, I sadly have no recollection of what was here before the Publix Plaza completely changed the landscape. I suppose that is one of the downsides of development. It has an insidious way of slowly erasing one’s memory, and you don’t even know it’s happening. So, for now, the story of the bell remains a mystery. Perhaps what concerns me even more is what will be the fate of this beautiful old bell.
Story written by Brian Smith