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Jonesville residents vie for piece of history

Some locals are clamoring for the historic Jonesville Bell.

Speaking at a recent Clifton Park Town Board meeting, resident Carol Temple said the former Jonesville Academy would be the ideal place for the bell.

The 2-by-2-foot, 375-pound cast iron bell was recently presented to the town by the Charleton Historical Society. It was initially purchased in 1883 for $110 from the Meneely Bell Company's foundry in Troy by members of Jonesville's Grace Episcopal Church.

The bell hung in the steeple of the church on Jonesville's Main Street until 1968 when the building was sold. When the Jonesville church was sold, the bell was moved to another church in Burnt Hills, which was, in turn, sold to the Charleton Historical Society in 1982 with the bell still in place.

John Scherer, Clifton Park town historian, brought the bell back to Clifton Park this fall.

Temple and her husband bought and renovated the Jonesville Academy in the 1970s and turned it into a private residence. She said the bell could be placed on the lawn of the property.

We wouldn't care who owned the bell, she said. "We'd accept any terms the town sees fit."

But officials with the Jonesville Cemetery want the historic bell placed within the cemetery's new fence. Jonesville Cemetery Association Vice President Ed Hughes has made a few pitches to the town board, the most recent at the Monday, Nov. 19, meeting.

Hughes came prepared with a sketch of the structure that would house the bell, should the town decide to bestow it to the cemetery. He and the cemetery's board of trustees are offering to donate a section of land in the cemetery to the town to house the bell, and possibly use some of the cemetery's old, historic fencing to surround the bell.

Hughes said the cemetery receives visits from school groups as well as from Boy Scout and Girl Scout groups because of its historic significance. He said the bell would only add to the experience.

Hughes has said the only historic public place in Jonesville today is the Jonesville Cemetery, and as such it is the logical choice for the bell.

Temple disagrees.

"I respect the Jonesville Cemetery Association, and it hurts me to say this because they are my neighbors, but the cemetery is a good second choice for the Jonesville Bell," she told the town board.

According to Supervisor Phil Barrett, the town is considering several locations for its placement and will announce its decision soon.

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