Friday, July 15, 2005
The Nauvoo Bell
Salt Lake City, UT
GPS Coords: ?
The Nauvoo Bell, weighing over 1,500 pounds, was originally donated by the British Saints for the Nauvoo Temple and brought to the United States by Wilford Woodruff. When pressure from mobs forced the Saints to evacuate the city, the bell was left behind and placed in a local Protestant church. It was recovered by members of the Lamoreaux family before they left Nauvoo to head west.
"One stormy night the men gathered in secret and without horses pulled the wagon to the Church and lowered the Bell, pushed and pulled the wagon by hand to the edge of the Mississippi River and carefully concealed it in the water. Andrew Lamoreaux and his brother, David, were chosen to bring the Bell to Utah with their families, concealing the Bell in their wagon with their provisions."
On the journey to Salt Lake City the bell was used to "awaken the herdsmen at dawn, to signal morning prayer, to start the day’s march, and to sound during the night watches to let the Indians know that the sentry was at his post." Once in Salt Lake City the bell was used in several locations such as the first old bowery, Brigham Young's schoolhouse, a Church business building and the Bureau of Information on Temple Square. It didn't find it's present day location and permanent home until 1942 when the Relief Society placed it in a bell tower on Temple Square to celebrate their centennial.
Placing the bell on Temple Square fulfilled a 1862 prophecy by Brigham Young: "Right west of the temple we shall build a tower and put a bell on it.... This plan was shown to me in a vision when I first came onto the ground." (B. H. Roberts, A Comprehensive History of the Church, 5:136).
In 1961 President David O. McKay, presiding at a ceremony at KSL-TV, said: "In its own way, the Nauvoo bell is a symbol of religious freedom in our land. . . . When we hear, henceforth, the sound of the Nauvoo bell, let it remind us anew that our nation and our community owes its existence to our trust in God." ("As We See It," Church News, July 29, 1961).
Today the bell rings at the beginning of each hour. The ring of the bell on the hour has been featured for years on KSL radio as well to mark the "top of the hour". It is also interesting to note that the ringing of the Nauvoo Bell can be controlled by a panel on the Mormon Tabernacle organ. The bell is also rung on special occassions such as the recent memorial services held on September 14, 2001 for those who died in the terrorist attacks on the United States of America.