Mr. Upham and the Bell

In my post from a couple of weeks ago titled A Tale of Two Bells, I wrote about finding 2 old bells hanging in church steeples in southern Sichuan Province. Both were cast in Cincinnatti, OH, and both are still being used in what were Baptist churches before 1949.

As I mentioned in that post, the inscription on one of the bells read:  “Buckeye Bell Foundry, 1886.”  The rest of the inscription read:  “First Baptist Church, Coffeyville, Kansas. Presented by W.S. Upham 1886. Praise Ye the Lord.”

Among the numerous questions that Noel and I pondered was who in the world was W.S. Upham?

A commenter on Noel’s blog Tell Me When to Pack did some poking around on the internet and turned up a link to a digitized version of the book History of the State of Kansas, by William G. Cultler. Part 11 of the book is a list of biographical sketches of notable persons in Montgomery County, where Coffeyville is located.

Here is what is written about a W.S. Upham:

W. S. UPHAM merchant, was born in the Cherokee Nation, April 13, 1845, his father, Rev. Willard P. Upham, coming among those Indians as a missionary in 1841. W. S. Upham went to San Francisco in December, 1865, and was engaged in the mercantile business there for seven years. He had spent one year in Boston, and one year at school in Vermont prior to going to California. He was married in San Francisco, May 15, 1873, to Emma A. Morgan, a native of Cleveland, Ohio. They have three children – Willard M., Maggie May, and George Newhall, the latter was named for his uncle, George Newhall, a prominent wholesale merchant of San Francisco. Mr. Upham is a member of the First Baptist Church, of San Francisco. He came to Coffeyville in the spring of 1873, where he has built up a large business, in addition to merchandising, dealing in grain, hides, furs, etc.

Given that he was a member of the First Baptist Church in San Francisco before moving to Coffeyville, it is reasonable to assume that the First Baptist Church in Coffeyville became his church home when he moved there.

Now…..why did he give the bell to the church, and when (and why) did they ship it to China?

Stay tuned…….