‘Funeral’ bell/veterans memorial dedicated

SCHAFFER – Recent Memorial Day activities in Schaffer included something special this year as Rev. Darryl Pepin of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish dedicated the Funeral Bell/Veteran’s Memorial at Sacred Heart Cemetery.

The bell, called a funeral bell, is dedicated to the 300 hard working French Canadian Families who established Sacred Heart Church in the early part of the 20th Century. The bell is called a funeral bell because at the end of a Funeral Mass, the bell is rung very slowly, once every four or five seconds, as the coffin is carried down the aisle, out of church, and until the hearse drives away.

This funeral bell is from the former Sacred Heart Church in Schaffer. The original church building burnt in 1904. The bell was purchased in 1915 and was located along with the regular church bell in a temporary bell tower near the temporary church building that had replaced the original church. The temporary church fell to a fire also, but as it began to burn, a group of village parishioners pulled the bell tower down away from the fire and saved the bells. (An eyewitness, Mr. Eli Taylor, relayed this event to Joseph “Buckshot” Potvin in 1970 while he was researching the history of Schaffer.)

A new church was constructed in 1917 and the bells were installed in the new bell tower. The bell served for 79 years until the church was closed in 1996.

*History of the Diocese of Sault Ste Marie and Marquette, Volume 11 P. 362

The all-weather aluminum display case containing the names of deceased veterans was donated by American Legion Post 438 of Bark River.