Plymouth Schoolhouse at Fort Hays State gets a bell

HAYS, KAN. - An iron bell cast more than a hundred years ago in Pennsylvania now sits next to Fort Hays State University's Plymouth Schoolhouse on the university's campus.

The bell, a gift from alumna Jane Koetkemeyer Kohtz, Hays, a 1975 graduate, was dedicated today in memory of Kohtz's parents, Vernon and Irene Koetkemeyer.

The bell once rang for services at Immanuel Lutheran Church near Dubuque, in southeastern Russell County. Kohtz's father bought the bell at an auction after the church shuttered. The Plymouth Schoolhouse served people living near Wilson from 1874 to 1936. It was dedicated at its current site in 1979.

"When I accepted the position of the Anschutz Professor of Education, I was given responsibility for the Plymouth Schoolhouse," said Dr. Paul Adams, who is also dean of the College of Education at FHSU. "To that end, we provide living history programs for school groups and also have opened the doors, in the tradition of a schoolhouse, to community use of the building."

"But," he continued, "there was always one item missing - a school bell. How can you have a schoolhouse without a school bell? Today, we have the bell and the opportunity to recognize those individuals who have made this possible."

The family of the late Elaine Driscoll, a 1970 Fort Hays State alumna and longtime FHSU employee, was also acknowledged during the dedication. Memorials made in Driscoll's honor were used to fund the base that the bell sits upon.

Joe Chretien, associate professor of applied technology, refurbished the bell and designed the base. Dan Disney, Jerry Dreiling and Blake Weigel with the university's physical plant constructed the base while DeLoyd Sander completed the masonry work. Adams also provided additional financial support.

Boy Scout Troop 101-Venture Crew 101 raised the flag, and children from the Tiger Tots Nurtury Center sang the National Anthem.

Kohtz rang the 800-lb. bell to close today's dedication ceremony. It will be used in the future for special occasions.

To learn how you can honor someone through a gift to Fort Hays State University, contact the FHSU Foundation at 785-628-5620 or To learn more about the FHSU Foundation, visit

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