In September of 1777, the British defeated George Washington’s troops at Brandywine Creek, Pennsylvania, prompting panic among the people of Philadelphia who now found themselves defenseless against British occupation.
Facing this threat, the state government ordered that several of the more important bells in Philadelphia be removed from the city to prevent the British from melting them down to forge weaponry. This included the bell from the Pennsylvania State House, the now famous Liberty Bell.
The Liberty Bell was secreted away from Philadelphia and taken to present-day Allentown, escorted by heavy guard and hidden on a hay wagon. It was taken to Zion Reformed Church, where soldiers hid it, along with several other prominent bells, under the church floor. The bell remained hidden in the church throughout the British occupation of Philadelphia, until June of 1778, when the bell was returned to the State House.
Today a replica of the Liberty Bell is on display in a small museum at the historic Zion’s Reformed United Church of Christ, which provided safe-keeping to the icon of American Independence all those years ago.