Historic School Bell Returns To Morton Grove

Back in 1897, the original schoolhouse rang it. But then a principal gave it to a mother of eight, and about a century passed until it showed up Monday at Morton Grove's village hall. Here's the story.


A school bell that called children to class back in the 1800s was brought to Morton Grove's village board meeting Monday, where Park View School Superintendent Phil Collins and members of the Morton Grove School District 70 board came to the podium with smiles on their faces to accept it.

Bill Sonne, whose family has been in Morton Grove since the 1870s and whose relatives have held onto the bell these many decades, came to the meeting to see it handed off to the school.

"The principal of the school gave the bell to my grandmother and when she passed away, my dad (born in 1908) got the bell," Sonne said. "I knew what my dad's wishes were."

Mayor Dan Staackmann, who has a keen interest in Morton Grove history, prepared the following statement:

Schools were first organized in the Morton Grove area in 1860. The first school house in Morton Grove was at Waukegan and Beckwith.

The first school building in what is now School District 70 was built in 1897 at Capulina Ave. and School Street. That building now serves as village hall and police station since 1980.

It was Edith Ordway who was the principal who rang this bell for class to begin, recess and when school was over for the day. She gave this school bell to Mrs. Frieda Sonne after the last of her eight children graduated from what was called Grove School. The Sonne family must have made a very lasting impression on her to turn this symbol of education over to their mother. The Sonne family has resided in Morton Grove since the 1870s and has made many contributions to our community. Descendants still reside in town. Best recollection is that the last of Frieda's children graduated in 1915. The bell was inherited by Ernst Sonne, one of her sons, and kept on a shelf in his dining room. That is where Ernie first showed it to me and told me his intention was always to give it to the Historical Society.

I mentioned that maybe the school would like it, being that they still use the classic school bell on the letterhead. He agreed and said he would look into getting it to the school. Ernie passed away in the early 1990s and the bell was packed and shipped off to California where his daughter lived. Over the past 20 years I asked Bill Sonne, who is here tonight, 'whatever happened to the school bell?' and told him of my conversation with his dad about the school bell. Bill agreed that it should go to the school. It took some time to find the bell and have it sent back to Morton Grove where it began. Here it is and the village is proud to see it back where it belongs.

Like Niles-Morton Grove Patch on Facebook

Lizzy T February 01, 2013 at 12:58 PM
What a wonderful story about bringing home an important artifact to Morton Grove. Thank you Mayor Staackmann for devoting your time and attention and keeping contact with the Sonne family so the bell could be returned to the school.
steve February 01, 2013 at 02:08 PM
My children attended Park View School and I always wondered about the bell on the school's letterhead and documents like report cards. Now I know! Thanks, Pam, for sharing this story. And thanks to the persistence of Mayor Staackmann (and kindness of the Sonne family) for bringing the bell back to the school! I hope the school's administration finds a special spot to showcase it.


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »