DASSEL, Minn. – A piece of history has been stolen from a small chapel in southern Minnesota.
The bronze bell has been missing from the Swan Lake Cemetery Chapel in Dassel for three weeks.
Tim Hendrickson was with other members of the cemetery board on October 15 when they went out to lay out a new plot at the cemetery.
“At first, we were pretty shocked that someone would do it,” Hendrickson said. “We walked into this chapel here to look at the map, and that’s when we noticed the bell was missing.”
The 1,000-pound bell was donated to Swan Lake Lutheran Church, which stood where the chapel now stands, in the early 1900s. Then the building was sold to Hendrickson’s congregation, the Old Apostolic Lutheran Church, which inherited the bell.
Their church body had outgrown the building, so they built a larger church next door for their busy Sunday services.
“When we tore down the church, we donated the bell to Swan Lake Cemetery,” he said.
There is still a faint but distinct tire track in the grass near the chapel, which gave Hendrickson the idea of how this bell could have been stolen.
“Like someone backed up a truck or a trailer or something,” he said. “We could see…there were blue marks where maybe they put a jack underneath to lift the bell out of its cradle.”
Hendrickson doesn’t know why anyone would want to steal a bell.
“Unless they want to use it for scrap, I don’t know,” he said.
However, Hendrickson said he was confident that whoever he was, knew the area well, as this chapel is located down a dirt road in rural farmland.
“That’s what we think, that someone had to know the bell was there,” he said.
Cemetery board members reported the theft to the Meeker County Sheriff’s Office, which is investigating.