Bell: A Piece Of Town History Now On Display - TribPapers

Bell: A Piece Of Town History Now On Display

Anna Ramsey (left) joins Jan Lawrence as she tells the significants of the bell to Weaverville's history. Photo by Clint Parker

Weaverville – A bell rang outside of the Dry Ridge Museum in Weaverville on Saturday morning (April 20th) that had not rung in nearly 100 years. Though the clapper was missing, a rap on the bell by hand or a cane produced a gentle ringing. What makes this bell so unique, and why is it now proudly located outside the museum?

This bell, now a relic of the past, once served a crucial role in the daily lives of Weaverville’s residents. It heralded the arrival of the trolley from Asheville, giving people ample time to reach the station, situated roughly where the Weaverville Laundry stands today. In an era dominated by horses and buggies, the trolley was a revolutionary mode of transport, bridging the gap between the small hamlet of Weaverville and the bustling city of Asheville.

A small plaque under the bell reads, “This bell stood in the yard of the Van Story Rest-A-Whyle Inn on Hamburg Mountain (1915-1940) and is dedicated to Anna Ramsey and the memory of Jim Van Story, benefactors of the Dry Ridge Historical Museum on April 20, 2024.” Anna Ramsey joined Jan Lawerence, Dry Ridge Museum Director Emeritus, for the dedication of the bell.

“The bell came with the Van Storys from Fayetteville when they came to start the Rest-A-Whyle Inn,” explained Lawrence. According to her, Anna Ramsey met Jim, but she paused, and Ramsey added the year 1982. Both had white Cameros, “and the rest is almost history,” declared Lawrence.

Lawrence went on to say that Jim had broken his femur but had the best nurse, Anna, to take care of him. He described Jim as being a “Renaissance man” but “down to earth.” Van Story died about four years ago, leaving several items to the museum, including the bell.

“We had the history from Jim, but we had the kindness of Anna and so she bestowed on our museum over $12,000 worth of things, wonderful treasures,” declared Lawrence. “Jim’s love of the museum went back a long time before I was on the museum board…So the bell rang when the trolley came, but didn’t go all the way to Rest-A-Whyle Inn. It didn’t go that far, but it alerted everybody who wanted to go into Asheville.”

“We are indebted to you, Anna, for always being with us and always being interested,” said Lawrence, to which Ramsey replied, “You’re welcome.” “Anna has given us so many Native American artifacts, baskets, and things. Jim didn’t even know what Native American was; Anna had to school him on all of that.” Lawrence then read the plaque, and those gathered gave their round of approval with applause.

The bell was active from 1915 until 1922, when a trolley accident ended in death, and a lawsuit ended the run to Weaverville, states Lawrence.

Another museum patron, Jerry Israel, arrived late to the ceremony and was invited to approach the bell and hit it with his cane, which made it give a loud ring, causing many present to clap and yell.