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Old Courthouse bell tolls onward

November 11, 2012
Mel Pitzen, Marshalltown , Times-Republican

Glory be, for the first time in a decade or so folks in Marshalltown this coming Veterans Day will again hear the clanging of the Marshall County Courthouse clock tower bell.

Our community forefathers of nearly a century ago would be pleased. Their Marshalltown Times-Republican on Nov. 11, 1918 said it this way: "All over the city whistles blew. The bell in the courthouse kept up a continuous clanging..."

It was a front page item on that day announcing the end of World War I, which eventually led to our Veterans Day observance of today.

Headlined on page one was WAR IS OVER; HUNS QUIT. The T-R also noted in that edition besides the bell tolling, "the city this morning is giving expression to its feelings. With bonfires, band music, parades, whistles, bells, auto horns and any sort of noise making device, Marshalltown cut loose at an early hour to celebrate victory and peace."

The ringing returns was the Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2012 headline in the T-R, and the news story mentioned some of the same equipment in the belltower at the courthouse is assumed to reach back at least to the early 1900s.

So along with our current County Supervisors, our ancestors brought this gift to the community, music to the ears of many. The magnificent towering structure is viewed for many miles around, also enhanced a few years back when the local American Legion joined others in financing an update for the lighting in the bell tower.

Interesting also, back to that Nov. 11, 1918, story, Mayor S.H. Reilly and Councilmen John I. Bell and J.C. Crellin called for a Marshalltown holiday, noting "in so far as our authority can prevail we urge and recommend that our people pause from their daily avocations, suspend business and reverently give thanks for the liberation of mankind from such awful carnage as this war has caused but we must warn everybody against danger of influenza. All public gatherings should be held in the open air."



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