William Buckley, Bell Founder

By December 20, 2009blog
Bell by William Buckley recovered in Monroe Township, NJ

“… so a new bell was cast from the metal of the old one by James Gregory of Cannon Street, the brass founder, who had been in that location since about 1850, being the successor of William Buckley, the bell founder.”

–   History of New York Ship Yards, John Harrison Morrison, 1909

Buckley Bell: Halifax, Virginia
While there is no direct evidence of it, it seems likely that William Buckley cast the original Mechanic’s Bell in 1834, and this is why Gregory was given the recasting commission in 1880. Thanks to Mr. Douglas Powell, the Historian for the Halifax United Methodist Church, we now have evidence of Buckley’s bell handiwork. Mr. Powell wrote to me:

Our church bell shows the name “W. Buckley, New York” as can be seen in the attached image – they must be the same company. Our church was built ca. 1829; we know the bell predated the Civil War, and may even predate the church building to a previous ca. 1818 building.

As a result of Mr. Powell’s note, I again called on Theresa LaBianca, Green-Wood’s Archivist; together, we learned that William Buckley is also interred at Green-Wood, in an unmarked plot that was owned by James Gregory and his siblings. Buckley was interred on Jan 7, 1850, apparently single and aged 68 years. His last residence was 98 Cannon Street, and his birthplace was Ireland. He died of hydrothorax.

It appears that Gregory was a true apprentice of Buckley, not only taking over his business upon his death in 1850, but apparently also possession of his burial plot – heavy responsibility for a 23-year old Gregory.

Bell by William Buckley at Halifax United Methodist Church
Bell by William Buckley at Halifax United Methodist Church, cast in New York City

Buckley Bell: Monroe Township, New Jersey (Oct 21, 2010)
Another Buckley bell has surfaced, this time in Monroe Township, NJ. As described to me by historian John D. Katerba and picked up in this story by MyCentralJersey, the 70lb brass bell was found in the ruins of a building that had burned to the ground in the 1870s. The site was at the original crossroads of Bordentown Turnpike, and had been occupied by Mr. James Buckelew, the founder of Jamestown, NJ.

As for the bell itself, it’s mounting and purpose is for the moment unknown; all we can say with some certainty is that it was born on the Lower East Side.

Bell by William Buckley recovered in Monroe Township, NJ
Bell by William Buckley recovered in Monroe Township, NJ by John D. Katerba.