Why the Church Bell Tolled on Saturday Nights in Roseland, IL

“Heden, the church bell is ringing. What is that now?” Marie and Katie Kuyper ran to the front door of their father Jakob’s boarding house to see what was the trouble. All up and down the avenue people rushed outdoors and heads looked out of windows. Niesje Van der Bilt at 112th Place came out to see if the Van der Warf boys, playing ball out in the street, knew what was wrong. Dr. L. G. Bass walked out of his office and stepped over to Conrad Bickhaus’ drug store, but no one knew why the church bell was ringing.  Dirk Van Vuuren, way up at 101st Street, was just about to drive his horse into the barn, but instead, he drove her galloping down to 107th Street to find out why the church bell was ringing at 6 o’clock on a Saturday evening.

Bong – bong – bong; Arie Van der Mijde was the new sexton hired at $225.00 a year, with a free house, coal, and light. He succeeded Johannes Ambuul, honorably retired, as sexton of the church. Arie was still pulling the bell rope when Dirk Van Vuuren got there.

“Hey jonge, what are you doing? Has some one died? Is there trouble?”

“No, Dirk, you missed the last Consistory meeting. Dominee Van Ess suggested that I ring the bell each Saturday night at 6 o’clock to remind the people that the Sabbath is approaching, and the Consistory voted it done.”

Dirk Van Vuuren was late to supper that night for he had ridden up and down the Avenue to tell his neighbors why the church bell rang. For many years thereafter, at 6 o’clock on Saturday evening the church bell called from the steeple of the 107th Street church [First Reformed Church] to announce to Roseland that the Sabbath was near and that they should prepare to attend a service of worship in the morning. What a splendid memorial to Dominee Van Ess’s 15 years of service to this community!

down-indian-trail-rosleand-1849Part of Marie K. Rowlands’ “Story of Roseland” in the fascinating book Down an Indian Trail in 1849 (pp.121-22), originally published in 1949 in the Calumet Index for the 100th anniversary of the Dutch settlement of the Calumet area (far south side of Chicago) later named Roseland. This work was later reprinted for the Dutch Heritage Center of Trinity Christian College (Darwill Press, 1987).

I have now finished this great story and will return the book tomorrow to the PRC Seminary library, part of our growing collection of Dutch-American history.

Published in: on February 12, 2020 at 9:10 PM  Leave a Comment