The Blanco Bell has been a part of Blanco schools since its early origins of 1884. It has been a district constant, and has persevered through a succession of buildings, fires, and even thefts.
The Blanco School Bell is cast steel, and was made by Rumsey & Company of Seneca Falls, NY, according to bell specialist Carl Scott Zimmerman of St. Louis, Missouri.
“The Seneca Falls company made pumps, agricultural equipment, and various other cast iron and steel products,” said Zimmerman.
According to information found at www.worthpoint.com, Rumsey and Co. in Seneca Falls was in business from 1863-1890.
The original 1884 school building was destroyed in a fire in 1893, and a new building was built upon its foundation, using the original stone, in 1902.
A picture of this 1902 school building shows a scaffolding on the its east side. A closer examination of the scaffolding shows it supports a bell, and also shows a turn of the century Blanco resident pulling its lanyard.
Although the bell has been a part of Blanco ISD for more than a century, its years overlooking the district have not been continuous.
In a Blanco County News article published in August 2002, writer Sheryl Smith-Rodgers recorded how the bell, the victim of a theft, was returned to the district fifteen years later.
It was during the fall of 2001. The bell had been missing for at least fifteen years.
Norma Jean Felps, a graduate of 1951, recalled how the bell was found.
The following is reprinted from Rodgers’ account in the Blanco County News:
''Last fall (2001), Norma Jean and her husband, Roger “Buttles” Felps, spotted a familiar-looking bell at a local garage sale. The couple said they’d found it about four years ago when they’d been fishing in the Blanco River off Ranch Road 1623.
“Their hook got hung on something, and there was that bell,” Norma said.
After conferring with her classmates, Norma later returned to the couple and asked to buy it. The couple agreed.
How did they know the bell was Blanco’s missing bell?
“Because it FIT,” Felps replied, laughing. “That’s how we made a positive identification.”
Blanco welder Grady Mobley stabilized a crack on the bell, which weighs more than 300 pounds. Then school maintenance employees rehung it last week on new metal hangers.
“It’s in working condition,” confirmed superintendent Lynn Boyd. ''
The bell is currently being safely stored by the district; however, it will soon be on display as a treasured artifact.
“The renovated historical building will have a have a gallery that will feature artifacts and pictures of the history of Blanco ISD,” said Superintendent Dr. Buck Ford. “The bell will be a highlight of the display.”
“It has been witness to generations of Blanco students,” said Ford. “It is an appropriate emblem and heirloom of our district.”