Local builder Jonathan Bardwell and two of his sons took a break from the Boy Scouts annual flower sale and brought up a handful of items for the Historical Museum, found or replaced during his renovation last summer of the clock tower in the First Congregational Church of Hatfield. The items ranged from a metal crank used to wind the tower clock once a week before it was electrified, to a metal wrench, probably hand forged, made to fit the oversized bolt that holds the bell framework (or “head stock”) in place.
Jonathan also brought in four pulleys from the church tower (used either for the tolling rope or the main bell rope), but upon closer inspection realized that only three of them seemed to be from the same era. The three wooden pulleys presumed to be from the time of the Congregational Church bell installation (forged in 1879), all used steel pins with wooden pulley wheels, and all looked like they had originally been painted a grayish color and probably made in a shop.
The fourth pulley (both housing and pulley made of pine), was a somewhat different shape (not as regular), showed hatchet marks and did not appear to have been painted. It also used hand-wrought nails and wooden (hardwood) pins instead of steel. As he noticed all this, Jonathan made an educated guess that the pulley he held in his hand was not from the installation of the Congregational Church bell in the late 1800s, but from the installation of the bell in the Third Meetinghouse, as it was that bell that was recast after it cracked “at a Fourth of July celebration in 1876”* and was thereafter installed in the Congregational Church tower.
As you may know, Hatfield’s Third Meetinghouse (built around 1750) was being considered to be listed on the state's Register of Historic Places – as one of the meetings of Shay’s Rebellion took place therein – before it was catastrophically blown into the foundation over which it sat, after being successfully moved from one side of Main St. to the other. But that is a story for another day. According to the Wells history cited below, under the reminiscences of Samuel D. Partridge, “I think the bell bore the date of 1806,” and so this fourth pulley perhaps predates the others by some 70+ years!
*From A History of Hatfield, Massachusetts, in Three Parts, by Daniel White Wells and Reuben Field Wells, 1910.