Hoffmann donates new victory bell

This history of the Battle of the Bell dates all the way back to 1954.  At that time, Sandow & Southern Railroad Co. donated the first bronzed prize to be awarded to the winner of the annual Cameron and Rockdale football game.  That bell lasted all the way up until 2001 when it was officially retired. Shortly thereafter, thanks to a $2,500 donation by the late Catherine Thomas, a C.H. Yoe High graduate, a brand new bell was made available.


The second bell had run its course and the booster clubs from both Cameron and Rockdale were in talks about purchasing a new one.  Those talks quickly ended when AJ Hommann, a member of the Cameron community for 23 years now, decided to donate his own bell.


Hoffmann, which is from Mount Pleasant, has worked at Charlotte Pipe in Cameron for over two decades.  During that time, he has built many relationships within the community, which includes Bill and Tommy Harris.


“When I found out through the booster club that we were going to try and replace the bell this year, and I asked AJ what he thought,” said Tommy Harris.  “He said he would love to donate this thing, because he has been down here.  It is like a second family for him here.  He thought it was a great idea to let the bell live on, especially in a tradition like we have.”


This bell has plenty of historic value to it.  It was initially used on a Cotton Belt Railroad Steam Engine from the 1940s. 


“My grandfather had a factory (Hoffmann Heading and Stave) in Mount Pleasant, which is where my home is,” said Hoffmann.  “Cotton Belt serviced his company and they worked on a lot of their equipment.  They were redoing the engine and he liked the bell, so they let him have it.”


The circumstances of the initial bell back in 1954 and this bell in 2016 could not have been more similar. 


“How about having a historic bell from the turn of the century,” said Harris.  “What are the chances of finding one donated to you, especially from a man that has had it in his family for so long.  If you remember running down to the railroad park, and remember seeing these things being rung on the old steam locomotives.  This is like history repeating itself all over again in Milam County.”


The bell has been a part of the Hoffmann family for approximately 70 years, but this was the perfect opportunity to pass it along.