The Making of Bevin Bros. Bells

Made in America,Odd Jobs,People,Traditions
December 9, 2010

Bevin Brothers has made more than 750 million bells, from bicycle and church bells to the hand bells used by Salvation Army bell ringers at Christmas

Linda Yeaton assembles customized cowbells.“We’ve been making bells before electricity, trains or bicycles were invented,” says Matt Bevin, the sixth generation of Bevins to own the company.Abner Bevin and his brothers founded the company in 1832.Philo Bevin (in front with white beard) posed with his employees for a photograph in the 1880s.blevin-patio-bellDouglas Bevin hands steel bells on a conveyor at Bevin Brothers Manufacturing Co. in East Hampton, Conn.
Caryn B. Davis
Caryn B. Davis
Courtesy of Bevin Brothers Manufacturing
Courtesy of Bevin Brothers Manufacturing
R.J. Phil
Caryn B. Davis
Linda Yeaton assembles customized cowbells.
“We’ve been making bells before electricity, trains or bicycles were invented,” says Matt Bevin, the sixth generation of Bevins to own the company.
Abner Bevin and his brothers founded the company in 1832.
Philo Bevin (in front with white beard) posed with his employees for a photograph in the 1880s.
Douglas Bevin hands steel bells on a conveyor at Bevin Brothers Manufacturing Co. in East Hampton, Conn.
http://pgoaamericanprofile2.files.wordpress.com/2010/12/bevin-brothers-handmade-cowbells.jpg

Editor's update: Bevin Bros. sustained severe damage in a May 27, 2012. Learn more from WTNH-TV.

Using a pair of pliers, Linda Yeaton, 63, twists a piece of wire around a loop inside a steel cowbell and attaches a small metal ball to the other end at the oldest bell factory in the nation.

"It's called a tongue and makes the jingle sound," says Yeaton, who has assembled bells for 20 years at Bevin Brothers Manufacturing Co. in East Hampton, Conn.

Since the company was founded in 1832, Bevin Brothers has manufactured more than 750 million bells, from bicycle and church bells to the hand bells jingled by thousands of Salvation Army bell ringers each Christmas season.

"We've been making bells before electricity, trains or bicycles were invented," says Matt Bevin, 43, the sixth generation of the Bevin family to own the company.

As Bevin strides across the factory's weathered floorboards, he literally walks in his ancestors' footsteps. Bevin's great-great-great grandfather Abner Bevin established the company in East Hampton with his brothers William, Chauncey and Philo.

Abner and William learned the bell-making trade as indentured servants from William Barton, the first bell maker in East Hampton, known since as Bell Town because it once was home to 30 bell manufacturers. In the 1820s, when the brothers' contracted work terms expired, they set up small foundries in their backyards to cast bells by pouring molten metal into molds. In 1832, they joined forces and formed Bevin Brothers.

Today, Bevin Brothers is the last bell manufacturer in East Hampton (pop. 13,352). The company's 19 employees produce, market and sell 1.2 million bells annually in 200 varieties, including call bells, door bells, dinner bells, ice cream bells, commemorative wedding and anniversary bells, and trip gongs that are used in prize fights and the mining industries. The bells are sold to retail stores and sports teams, and to businesses and charitable organizations that use them for advertising and fundraising campaigns.

"There is something universally appealing about a bell—the sound, the novelty of it, the nostalgia associated with jingle bells and wedding bells," Bevin says. "For that reason, they endure globally."

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