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This Week in Saratoga County History: The Bell with a Story to Tell

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This article originally appeared on the Saratoga County History Roundtable website.

Hundreds of cars drive down McMaster Street in Ballston Spa on a daily basis, but few may notice the beautiful old bell that sits silently on display in front of Building 1 of the Saratoga County Complex.

This bell hung in Saratoga County’s third Courthouse which was erected in 1890 and stood on the location where Building 5 is today (50 West High Street). The bell was purchased from the Clinton H. Meneely Bell Company in Troy, New York for just over $800. The inscription on the exterior reads:

Saratoga County Court House
Equal Justice to All
Nullus Liber Homo Capiatur
County Building Committee
George L. Thompson
William W. Sweet
Stephen C. Medbery

The Latin phrase “Nullus Liber Homo Capiatur” means “Let no free man be seized.” The pealing of the bell was most likely a common background noise in the village, though it seems not everyone was thrilled with its melody. A small mention in The Schuylerville Standard published shortly after the bell was installed noted, “People who have been in the habit of hearing the cheery sound of the old court house bell at every session of court, are now called together by the lugubrious tones of the new bell.” (The Schuylerville Standard October 28, 1891) Like it or not, the bell rang frequently. Besides being rung when court was in session, it was almost certainly used on special occasions and may also have signaled the time. Read more...