Days of Yore
 
as recounted by

Bill Day

 

Liberty Bell

The World Almanac of Facts for 1976 reports that on September 18, 1777 a military train moved the Liberty Bell to the Zion Reformed Church in Allentown, Pa.  Mrs. Thomas Redman of Haddonfield, a long time resident, says that this is not the case.  Mr. James Fairweler, her great grandfather, a Pennsylvania Dutchman, owned a farm in the mountains about twenty-nine miles north of Allentown in the Lehigh Valley County, Pennsylvania.  The nearest settlement to his farm was a small village of Wanamakers whose most prominent citizen was Mr. Frederick Leiser whose statue stands in the town park.  The safety of the liberty Bell was a matter of great concern when the British forces approached close to Philadelphia during the war.  Mr. Leiser contacted her ancestor Mr. Fairweler who had a big heavy wagon and a double team of horses.  The two patriots rode down to Philadelphia, loaded the big bell, took it back to Allentown where it was stored for safe keeping in the cellar of the church.  So by marriage our town is associated with a choice morsel of the Revolution, especially favorable this year, 1976, when we are all so conscious of our Bicentennial.  The Redman family’s farmland was in the area of Westmont Avenue and Redman Avenue.  At the juncture of the two streets the old farmhouse is still standing.  A carriage lane from Haddon Avenue ran back to the homestead, which later became Redman Avenue.


Reader claims ‘story misleading’  -  Haddon Gazette July 24, 1980 p33
To the editor
In your issue of Thursday, July 17 [1980], in the column, “Days of Yore”, was a story of Haddonfield’s connection with the Liberty Bell.

Now it is very nice to keep family traditions and legends alive but certain parts of the story are definitely in error.

It would have you believe that the bell was moved from Philadelphia to Allentown because of its historic value.  Actually it had no historic value at that time.  It was merely the State House Bell which was rung to summon the citizens of Philadelphia to hear proclamations or for the holding of meetings.

And contrary to popular belief it did not ring on July 4, 1776 at the signing of the Declaration of Independence.  It was not rung until July 8, 1776 to summon the people to hear the declaration read after it had been returned from the printer.

As to its movement from Philadelphia to Allentown it was only one bell on a military train of 700 wagons guarded by 200 cavalrymen from North Carolina and Virginia under the command of Colonel William Polk, of North Carolina.

The reason for its removal, along with all the other large bells in the city, was because it was feared that if the British occupied Philadelphia they would seize all the bells and melt them down for cannon shells and musket bullets.

Just exactly when the bell acquired the name, “Liberty Bell”, is not definitely know but one of the first written records giving it this name was not until 1839 when a Boston-based group of anti-slavery advocates, Friends of Freedom, published a pamphlet entitled “The Liberty Bell”.  In the pamphlet was a sonnet, suggested by the inscription on the bell, which read, “It is no affront we sound, summoning nations to the conflict dire; No fearful peal from cities wrapped in fire, echoes at our behest, the land around; Yet would we rouse our country’s utmost bound.”

All of the facts regarding the “Bell” which I have quoted above are from the book, “Loud and Clear, The Story of the Liberty Bell”, by Harold V. B. Voorhis and Ronald E. Heaton, published in 1970.

Because of the great amount of research which went into the production of this book and the fact that it is regarded as a really authentic source of information about the bee it was awarded an Honor Certificate designated by the 1979 National Award Jury of the Freedom Foundation at Valley Forge.

It is also interesting to note that although the bell rang on July 9,1776 when the declaration was read in Philadelphia it was preceded by one day when, on July 7, 1776, Dr. Ebenezer Elmer, editor of the Plain Dealer, in Bridge Town (now Bridgeton) stood on the steps of Matthew Potter’s Tavern, in that town, and read the Declaration of Independence.

At the conclusion of his reading the bell in the Cumberland County Courthouse, across the street, rang out in jubilation.  It has since been known as “The Little Liberty Bell” or “The Cumberland County Libery Bell”.

The tavern is now a New Jersey State Historic Site and has a bronze plaque on the front.
Harry M. Potter
Haddonfield


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