USS BETELGEUSE
AK (FBM ) 260
Photos

In 2016 it was discovered that the bell from the “Goose” still existed and was housed in the tower at Christ Episcopal Church in Milton, Pennsylvania.  Subsequently there was much discussion among the members of ship’s association about obtaining the bell for display in a more appropriate location such as a planned Naval Museum in Charleston, South Carolina.  In response to this event shipmate Bob Scanell contacted the current minister of the church Robert Van Deusen to discuss the possibility of moving the bell.  According to Rev. Van Deusen removal of the bell would involve dismantling the church steeple as well as a crane to lift and lower the bell and steeple.  As a result of these discussions Bob decided to make a trip from his home in Atlantic County, New Jersey to Milton, Pennsylvania in an effort to possibly view the bell as well as the logistics that would be involved in removing the bell from its present location.   Photographs obtained by the Association show that during the installation of the bell in 1976 that two sections of the steeple had to be removed and lowered to the ground prior to the crane hoisting the 250 pound bell up an into the belfry.  As it became clear to the membership that the bell would not be moved or put on display shipmate Fred Siler (64-65) volunteered to undertake a visit to present the church with a certificate from the Association.

     In July 2017 shipmate Siler traveled to Milton, Pennsylvania to present a “Certificate of Recognition” from the U.S.S. Betelgeuse Association to the members of Christ Episcopal Church. On this occasion he learned that the tiny building is the oldest church in Milton having been established in 1849. As destiny would have it the building was the only church to survive “the great fire of 1880.”  The bell, on loan from the Naval and History Command, was obtained in 1976 by Navy veteran and Church Vicar the Rev. W. Thomas Campbell.  The timing of his transaction was to coincide with our nation’s 200th anniversary.  The bell was raised up into the church’s bell tower in June of that year and rung for the first time in its new home on July 4, 1976.  Subsequently, the church memorialized the “Betelgeuse Bell” with a framed photograph of the ship in the church vestibule.   After the presentation of the certificate shipmate Siler was invited into the church office to view their 40 year old collection of photographs commemorating the installation of the bell.  Many of the pictures are included on this webpage.

bell 1976

 

Bob Scandell and Reverend  Rbert Van Deusen.

Reverend Rpbert Van Deusen and Fred  Siler

Photograph of the Betelgeuse in the church vstabule.