Bevin Brothers ManufacturingThe Bevin family has been crafting quality bells for 179 years. Once one of a multitude of bell makers in America, today Bevin Brothers is the only remaining company manufacturing just bells in the United States. The Bevin family, now in its sixth generation of ownership, still oversees all operations of their business in East Hampton, Connecticut. In an era when the manufacturing of almost all American goods consumed is unfortunately located overseas, the Bevin family continues to produce the world’s finest bells with a 100% customer-satisfaction guaranteed. Against all odds, the Bevins have maintained their business for nearly two centuries. They take pride in the fact that each bell they make is backed by nearly two hundred years of experience, quality and trust.
William Barton is credited with the start of East Hampton’s bell making in 1808. According to Barbara Feist (a direct descendent of William Barton) as she writes in Ring Out for Belltown, “When the first bell hit the market, East Hampton was only 65 years old.” She further proclaims, “East Hampton (to be) the oldest bell producer in the America.”
William Bevin learned the art of bell making while working as an indentured servant to William Barton when Barton lived and worked in Cairo, New York. Bevin agreed to the terms and tenure of the indenture under the condition that he could use the craft where and when he desired after he left. William Bevin returned to East Hampton, and with brother, Chauncey, continued to make bells, coffee mills, kettles, and cranes. Another brother, Abner, who had also worked in the Barton shop, joined William and Chauncey and, in 1832, they started the Bevin Brothers bell factory, A fourth brother, Philo, later joined the others and, in 1868, Bevin Brothers was incorporated as the Bevin Brothers Manufacturing Company. The brothers made sleigh, hand, house, cow, sheep, door and ship’s bells. They also made up to twenty different sizes of common sleigh bells of the globe, band, or rim variety. Bevin Brothers was reported to produce the first bicycle bells ever made. The first foot bell ever used in an automobile was also produced by Bevin and was patented in 1897
Throughout the past 200 years, more than thirty firms of bell makers have flourished in East Hampton. Companies such as Starr Bros., N.N. Hill and Gong Bell were prominent. Bevin Brothers was the second bell company in town and is now the last one still in business. Of note, William Barton (East Hampton’s first bell maker) and the four, original, bell making Bevin brothers (Abner, Chauncey, William and Philo) are buried in East Hampton’s Lakeside Cemetery.
The bell business took off in East Hampton for a number of reasons. Productive farming was marginal in the area. There was rich farmland in Pennsylvania and Ohio driving the price of food down. A lack of competitiveness was the primary reason why industry (bell making, shipbuilding, etc.) emerged. There was a functional nature to the products that Bevin Brothers produced. Sleighs were a primary mode of transportation during the cold winter months and were extremely quiet. This imposed a safety hazard to unsuspecting pedestrians who shared the same rustic roads. Law mandated that sleighs have sleigh bells to warn those nearby. Bells were used to call parishioners to church, to call employees to work, to signal a fire and, when attached to a wagon wheel after a 360 degree revolution, to indicate distance. The damming of Lake Pocotopaug helped to create waterpower and iron became a source of metal for all bell makers.
The bell industry flourished through the civil war. The economy in New England was vibrant as goods were produced to supply the troops in the field. In 1901, electric power came allowing bell makers to have a reliable source of power.
Through continued family management and resources, Bevin Brothers looks forward to celebrating their 200th anniversary in 2032.
Thank you for your kind and courteous manner in which you dealt with my concern. You are a model for all businesses. It was a pleasure doing business with you and the quality of your bells is wonderful. Thank you! God Bless.
Several months ago I ordered your steel “tea bells” (the smallest size you made) for my grandson who was 7 months old. He enjoyed them more than a baby rattler and was (perhaps) his first “musical instrument”. He still enjoys them and is training to be a Christmas Bell ringer (ha ha). He is now 14 months old. Thank you for the hours of enjoyment. Happy Holidays!
Thanks for your excellent service and the personal attention given. It’s wonderful to hear the ringing in my ears.
The bells are fabulous. They sound great, and ring from the smallest trout bite to the largest steelhead bites. I have no difficultly in telling my bell’s sound, from the other bells around me.
Great bells!, Thank you and Take Care!
Large Format Photography © R.J. Phil.