It’s time for the sound of Mystery Bells! The “St. Joseph Weekly Gazette,” December 8, 1892:
Baltimore. Md., Nov. 30.-The good Sisters of the convent of Notre Dame, near this city, have been mystified and frightened by the singular antics of the door bell. It rings by day and it rings by night. It is one of those big brass bells that can be heard all over the convent and in the parsonage of St. Anne’s church adjoining, where its almost incessant jingling during the midnight hours disturbs the rest of Rev. W. E. Bartlett.
On Saturday, November 5, the mysterious bell-ringing began. At first, the lay Sisters thought that mischievous boys were jerking the bell-pull and running away. One Sister watched in the hallway and another stood under the bell In the rear of the house. The bell rang, but no one pulled the knob. At night, when the sisters retired, the bell rang again. It continued to ring at short intervals all night, and deprived some of the sisters of sleep. The bell rang all day Sunday, and could be plainly heard in St. Anne's church during the celebration of high mass.
The sexton, Joseph Helmcamp, traced the bell wire from the door to the bell, but found nothing wrong. While this examination was going on the bell kept ringing. Finally the sexton cut the bell wire. This failed to stop the bell from ringing. No electric wires of any kind are about the house. It was finally decided to detach the wire from the bell entirely. This was done, but it did not stop the bell from ringing. Indeed, the bell rang more violently than ever, as if rejoicing from being freed from the wire.
Rev. William E. Bartlett. pastor of St. Anne's church, was called in. He examined the bell carefully, but could not solve the mystery. "Take it down," was the next order. The bell was removed and was hung up for two days in Father Bartlett's house, but did not ring there. It was then replaced in the convent, whereupon it began to ring again violently.
The assistant pastor examined the bell. "Take it down," said he, "and I'll put it up so that it won't ring." The bell was taken down and put up by Father Bartlett. Then it rang so violently that the steel spring attached was stretched straight out, and the bell oscillated with such force that it beat against the ceiling.
The priests were completely mystified. More than a score of the members of St. Anne's church were called in to examine the strange antics of the bell, but none could discover the cause. The bell rang so violently at night that Sexton Helmcamp was called in to remove it so that the Sisters could sleep.
He has since placed it in position every morning and removed it at night. The lay Sisters can not be induced to remain in the kitchen when the bell begins to ring.
Every Sunday since November 5 the worshipers at St. Anne's church have heard the noisy bell while at mass. Every part of the bell has been carefully examined, as well as the pieces used to attach it to the ceiling. The bell wire was also inspected minutely. It was suggested that the trouble might have been caused by a rat or a mouse. This could not be possible, because the bell rang when absolutely detached from the bell wire. Last Sunday during Vespers the bell raised such a racket that Father Bartlett left the sanctuary several times to stop it.
The bell continues to ring violently. The investigation is still in progress, but the problem is as far from being solved now as it was three weeks ago.
I haven’t been able to find when (or if!) the ringing stopped, or if they ever found the cause for this aural bombardment.