One of the most visible pieces in Toledo’s history was recently honored by a family associated with the city.
Jesse Dixon’s family, along with members of the fire department, gathered outside the Toledo Fire Station on July 18 to dedicate a plaque that was placed on the historic Toledo Fire Service Bell in the fire station’s front yard off Highway 63.
The plaque highlights the story of Jesse Dixon’s efforts to preserve the bell when it was moved away from the original Toledo Fire Station, donated to a church, and then donated back to the Toledo Fire Department.
The board reads: “This bell hung in the tower of the Toledo Fire Station from 1876 until the turn of the 20th century. It was then received by Jesse Dixon from rural Toledo. After the Fairview Church, west of Toledo, was built, Dixon donated the bell to the church in 1918 for use in its tower. When the United Methodist Church closed and sold the building, the bell was returned to the Toledo Fire Department. Plaque in honor of Jesse and Nellie Dixon. “
The plaque was purchased by the family and installed with permission from the City of Toledo.
The bell was erected as a memorial in front of the fire station in 2001 to mark the 125th anniversary of the Toledo Fire Department.
A report from the Toledo Chronicle in 2001 said that Toledo firefighter Butch Kupka renovated the bell and firefighter Dan Ferris built the brick base on which the bell now stands.
The Chronicle also recounted the story of how the bell was originally used by the fire department, from the account of Toledo firefighter Charles Patterson.
Patterson said in the early years of the department, firefighters were alerted to fire calls by a set sequence of bells.
The bell rang continuously for an alarm and then rang a specified number of times to indicate which area of town the fire had been reported in.
Dixon acquired the doorbell after replacing it with an electric alarm. Patterson believed Dixon used it for his sorghum harvest and production to give the workers time.
Marietta Davis, from Prairie Grove, Arkansas, attended the ceremony earlier this month. Davis is one of Jesse Dixon’s two surviving children. Jesse and his wife, Nellie, had five children: Welby, Orleene, Bernadine, Marietta, and Martha.
The late Orleene Cordelia Dixon’s family, the Mason family, still reside in Tama County, Traer Area.
The other surviving daughter of the Dixons is Martha Butterfield of Waslo, Missouri.