A Semiquincentennial Bell Unveiled at Historic Dennis Farm

The U.S. Semiquincentennial is only three short years away and bells will undoubtedly feature prominently in commemorations from sea to shining sea. The National Bell Festival is deep in the planning of our own grand bell to gift to the American people – the U.S. Semiquincentennial Bell – themed to 250 years of trailblazing women, and it will ring in good company. 

The Pennsylvania Commission for the United States Semiquincentennial (America250PA) is the first out of the gate with a bell commission and installation of their own. In fact, the Keystone State has plans to cast over a dozen Liberty Bell replicas for historical locations and points of interest across Pennsylvania.

Their first bell project was unveiled on June 28, 2023, during a ceremony at the historic Dennis Farm near Kingsley in Susquehanna County. Pennsylvania Auditor General Timothy DeFoor explained the significance of the location as a symbol of African American freedom and resilience:

“Dennis Farm began when Prince Perkins, a free black man, moved his family from Connecticut to what is now a 153-acre farm in northeastern Pennsylvania. The farm served as a station on the Underground Railroad, and the Perkins-Dennis Cemetery on the farm is the final resting place for escaped slaves who died along the journey, as well as African American veterans of the American Revolution, the War of 1812, and the Civil War.”

The bronze bell is inscribed with the words of M. Denise Dennis, a direct descendant of Prince Perkins and the founder of the Dennis Farm Charitable Land Trust (DFCLT) that preserves the historical site.


DFCLT, 2001

Notable guests attending the bell’s unveiling and dedication included U.S. Senator Bob Casey, Pennsylvania State Treasurer Stacy Garrity, Pennsylvania Auditor General Tim DeFoor, America250PA chairman Patrick Burns, America250PA executive director Cassandra Coleman, and DFCLT president M. Denise Dennis, among others. U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris penned and sent a proclamation to be read aloud.

Semiquincentennial Bell by America250 PA installed at Dennis Farm

Image: Detail of the first America250PA Semiquincentennial Bell, inscribed with a quote by M. Denise Dennis, at Dennis Farm near Kingsley in Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania. Courtesy: Kat Bolus, WVIA News.

The Dennis Farm bell may be the first, but it certainly won’t be the last, bell commissioned by America250PA to commemorate the U.S. Semiquincentennial. Each of the bells is meant to illuminate the stories of communities that have been untold or not widely known, yet shaped both the state and nation’s history. These are stories that will ring out for future generations. 

Cover image: Dignitaries including M. Denise Dennis (center right, holding a hat) pull back a red cloth to unveil the first America250PA Semiquincentennial Bell at Dennis Farm near Kingsley in Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania, on June 28, 2023. Courtesy: Kat Bolus, WVIA News.