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Winter Texan Wednesday: Bell of the Bessie

February 19 @ 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Who would want a 400-pound bell? In the early 1900s, the famous bell, once used on the steamboat Bessie, was caught in a feud between two Catholic parishes. Learn more about the history and timeline of the bell during “Bell of the Bessie,” a Winter Texan Wednesday presentation, featuring Father Greg Labus.

It is hard to imagine that the Rio Grande was once a highway for steamboats. For a time, up to 35 steamboats were up and down the river, dropping off passengers and goods such as cotton. However, steamboats were put out of business at the turn of the 20th century with the arrival of the railroad. The 400-pound bell that was on the last steamboat, the Bessie, found new life as a community symbol in the city of San Juan. It also became a disputed artifact claimed by two Catholic parishes in the Rio Grande Valley: St. Joseph the Worker Catholic Church in McAllen and St. Joseph Catholic Church in Edinburg. Father Labus will make his case that St. Joseph Catholic Church in Edinburg is the real home for Bessie’s Bell.

Labus is currently the pastor at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Edinburg. He is a longtime Edinburg resident and music enthusiast.

Winter Texan Wednesday is included in the fee for regular museum admission. No reservations are required. Resort/park groups are welcome to enjoy this program. For more information, please contact the museum at 956-383-6911 or visit mosthistory.org/events.


February 19
3:00 pm - 4:00 pm