More than a century ago, near Comfort, John Robert Philyaw wrote his name in his Bible.
He added his second wife’s name, Susan Jones Philyaw, and as they were born, the names of their 15 children.
Today, the 98 grandchildren, at least 108 great-grandchildren and countless other relatives who claim John Robert Philyaw as their ancestor are using that Bible, among other genealogical tools, to fill in their family tree…
Recently, Fowler and other Philyaws donated the Bible to the Onslow County Museum, where it is being kept in an acid-free box before on display for about a year before it goes into climate controlled archives, according to Patricia Hughey, Onslow County Museum collections manager.
For more information on the what resources are available for genealogical research at the Onslow County Museum, visit onslowcountync.gov/museum or call 910-324-5008.
Wow! What a story… The following excerpt is from an article posted in the April 9, 2014 edition of people.com:
It was surrounded by computer parts when it arrived at a Denver, Colo., Goodwill, which may have been why the employees took notice of it.
According to Denver NBC affiliate KUSA, the employees discovered an inscription in the Bible (originally published in England), reading: “Wm Burbidge, Long Bucky, Northhamptonshire, born May 20th 1812, Died August 9th 1882.” It ended with “Grace Ann Burbidge, Born July 31st 1854, Died 12th May 1932.”
One way or another, the tale of the Bible made it up the chain to Goodwill’s Chief People Officer Joyce Schlose, who happens to be a genealogy enthusiast.
The following excerpt is from an article by Gil Gorsey, posted in the Feb. 18, 2014 edition of wdrb.com:
LEXINGTON, Ky. (WDRB) — The recent discovery of a 200-year-old Bible brought a Kentucky woman to tears. Inside, it holds living proof of a family history that had been lost for generations.
From the Netherlands, to a flea market in Virginia Beach, and back to Lexington: a piece of history makes its journey home.
Kathy Clark never fought so hard to open a package, anxious for a family reunion long overdue.
“When I saw the pictures of it, I couldn’t believe how small it was,” Clark said.
And when she finally could reach out and touch her loved ones, she said it was like they almost came back to life.
“It’s so much family history, and the proof is here,” Clark said.
Clark said the Dutch Bible belonged to her great-great-grandfather, Hendriks Albert Sprik. Born in 1808, Sprik carried the world with him on a steamship as he immigrated from the Netherlands to Grand Rapids, Mich., with his wife, Trientje Sprik, in 1874….
Sometimes titles don’t completely clarify the contents of a book. Not so, with Tennessee Records: Tombstone Inscriptions and Manuscripts, where the title says exactly what the book is about. Within these pages you will find thousands of tombstone inscriptions. In fact, 364 pages of inscriptions for thousands of names from early Tennessee cemeteries.
In addition to the tombstone inscriptions, this book offers another 195 pages of historical references for Tennessean families and individuals, extracted from family Bibles, diaries, letters and other manuscripts. The depth of this work can be measured by the surname index containing some 12,500 entries.
Originally published in 1933, this book represents a major research effort by Jeannette Tillotson Acklen, with the assistance of other, to preserve the knowledge of ancestors for their children. Judge John H. DeWitt makes clear the value of these inscriptions and extractions, in the following words take from his foreword:
“We know much of the lives of the leaders in statesmanship and in war. We know something of the lives and social customs of the wealthy. We yet know but little of the life and thought of the great mass of plain but sturdy people who have not acquired wealth or honors. They have been the human basis of our civilization. They lie unsung everywhere in quiet graves, under modest tombstones, and yet they live on in the lives of their children to whom they have left he principles of honor and of usefulness.”
It was interesting to me to read the words of this Judge as he referred to his day, depression era 1933, as an “age of obsession with material things—the problems and diversions of time…” I wonder how he would view our times? Yet, I am sure he would be proud of the efforts of so many in finding and remembering their ancestors through genealogical research. He also would likely have been happy to see that someone had taken the time to reprint this valuable volume. Thousands of ancestors of countless descendents are represented within its pages. The historical content, as well, is of such great value, teaching us of life in another time. Again in the words of DeWitt:
“All who love our southern history and want it to be brought properly before the world should acclaim this work and give it material encouragement. All who are of kin to those who are here commemorated will delight in these pages and be grateful for them. War are all indebted to Mrs. Acklen and those who have assisted her for this fine contribution to our historical literature.”
If your history ties to southern roots, especially with those likely buried in Tennessee, then pick up a copy of Tennessee Records: Tombstone Inscriptions and Manuscripts at Family Roots Publishing.
The following excerpt is from an article posted in the March 14, 2013 edition of Gulf Coast News Today.
FOLEY [ALABAMA] — South Baldwin residents have two more weeks to dig out their old family Bibles and get the information recorded by the Baldwin County Genealogical Society.
For the next two Tuesdays, the organization is conducting its Family Bibles Project, in which residents can bring their family Bibles to the Alabama Local History and Genealogy Collections Room at Foley Public Library 10 a.m.-noon March 19 and 26 and have that information archived.
“Anyone willing to share this information with future generations is welcome to bring their Bibles to the Foley Public Library for copying,” promotional information states. “If the Bible is too fragile for copying, a transcript of the family data can be substituted (along with the Bible to verify.”
The Bibles will be returned immediately.
Mary Adams of the Society explained that residents who need to schedule a different time should call her at 251-949-6174.
Craven County, North Carolina: The New Bern-Craven County Public Library’s Family Bibles Collection is online, featuring Bibles that date from 1723 to the mid-1900s, with information on many families in Eastern North Carolina.
The online collection, which has 35 Bibles, is a project of the library and the Craven County Genealogical Society of North Carolina.
To view the Family Bible Collection, visit the Kellenberger Room website: newbern.cpclib.org/research
A concerned and helpful citizen, probably a proud genealogist, helps return a 150 year-old family bible to it’s rightful home. See this story from KSL.com:
Woman reunited with 150-year-old family Bible
By Kim Covington, for NBC News
AVONDALE, Ariz. — Hundreds of items were auctioned off recently at Pot of Gold Estate Liquidation in Avondale, Ariz. Some were worth thousands of dollars, but none were more valuable than an 1864 family Bible.
Mary Marsh found it on the auction list and knew it couldn’t just go to the highest bidder.
“It felt like there was an angel on my shoulder saying, ‘You’ve got to do this, you’ve got to do this,'” she said.
She felt compelled to find the family the Bible belonged to, so she quickly got to work. She googled the last name and town. That took hours. So she turned to Ancestry.com. She posted the information, names and even pictures left in the Bible. Her efforts paid off when she connected with Ann Abbott Stong.
“I knew immediately,” Stong said. “I recognized handwriting as well as recognizing the names.”
Stong is the oldest known person in her family who’s been searching for her past, for years. She believes the family Bible holds the answers to her questions, but she had to act fast because it was going to auction.
So she travelled all the way from Denver to Arizona to find her long-lost ancestors.
“I pray that it’s the correct family,” Marsh said.
The following article was written by my friend, William Dollarhide:
Dollarhide’s Genealogy Rule No. 46: The family Bible you need was inherited by a female descendant of your ancestor, but one who married and divorced at least four times, and whose final surname is a complete mystery.
The First Printed Bibles
Johann Gutenberg introduced printing with moveable type to Western Europe in 1454. The first complete book he printed with the new moveable type system was the Bible, printed in Latin. In 2000, Gutenberg was named the “Man of the Millennium,” by Time Magazine. Gutenberg’s technology allowed the written word to be reproduced and disseminated quickly, cheaply, and in enormous quantities. In less than fifty years after the printing of the first Gutenberg Bible, more than ten million printed books had been produced.
Martin Luther, leader of the German Protestant Reformation, sought to place the Bible into the hands of ordinary Christians. He translated it from Latin — the language of scholars and clergy — into the Fraktur script of the German language. The Bible of Martin Luther was first printed at Wittenberg by Hans Lufft in 1534. Lufft sold over 100,000 copies of Luther’s Bible, making it the best selling book in any language for the next 40 years. Any student of the German language can tell you that Martin Luther’s 478-year-old Bible is still very readable by modern Germans. There have been few changes to the formal and informal German language usages, and even the old Fraktur script is still taught in schools in Germany today.
An early English translation of the Bible was commissioned by King James I and first published in 1611. The King James Version of the Bible has been the universally accepted English translation for four centuries, and the best selling book of all time in any language. Unlike Martin Luther’s Bible, the “thee,” and “thou,” and “thy” formal forms found in the King James Version disappeared in everyday speech everywhere in England and America by the mid-1600s – everywhere except the Quaker families who came from England’s Pennine Range to the Delaware Valley in the late 1600s and early 1700s. If you were to visit a pub in the Pennine region today, you may still hear a few “thee,” or “thou,” or “thy” forms spoken there.
The first colonists arriving in British North America brought their Bibles with them. The Bible was the main teaching aid in learning to read, which was taught in homes before the first schools were built. Because of the universal use of the Bible in homes, and its importance to a family as perhaps the only printed book in their possession, it evolved to become the place where family vital statistics were written within its pages. In Europe, long before the first American colonies were settled, it was common for the names of children to be added to the family’s Bible soon after their births. In addition, dates of marriages and deaths of family members were often recorded in this way. By the time the first Bibles appeared in the American colonies, most of them had designated pages printed for recording births, marriages, and deaths. It was an established standard for printing Bibles. Before there were governments recording vital records, a family Bible was the official record of vital statistics. A family Bible was (and still is) an officially recognized document that could be used in a court of law as proof of a person’s age, birth, marriage, or death.
Who Got the Bible?
To family historians, finding a family Bible with the names of their ancestors inside is an important part of genealogical research. But most of the time, the old Bibles are not that easy to find. That a family Bible ever existed is almost always a fact. Virtually every family in America kept a family Bible, whether it was printed in German, English, or some other language. The question, of course, is what happened to the Bible, and who might have the Bible today.
Rev. John Dollarhide’s Bible
As an example of how family Bibles can get lost, my great-grandfather, Rev. John Dollarhide, was a minister during the 1850’s and 60’s in Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, and California, with the Evangelical United Brethren (EUB). For most of his adult life, he owned a Bible in which the names of his wife and fifteen children were listed, along with dates of birth, marriages, and deaths. The Bible was with his widow, Lucy (Reynolds) Dollarhide, when she went to live with her daughter in Dayton, California in the early 1880’s. The daughter, Loretta, who had married a man named David Keener, acquired the Dollarhide Bible after the death of her mother. Later, Loretta’s children inherited the Dollarhide Bible. When I started in genealogy, none of this information was known to me. Yet, today, I have in my possession a copy of the pages from Rev. John Dollarhide’s family Bible.
Rev. John Dollarhide (1814-1869). This photo was taken somewhere in California, between 1861 and 1869. His last residence in California was in Stanislaus County. He died (in the middle of a sermon) near Lodi in 1869. The photo came from an album of a Fisher family of National City, CA. Success in finding this photo resulted from Fisher research, not Dollarhide.
My search for the Dollarhide Bible started only with the belief that an EUB preacher would own a Bible. I also decided that that preacher’s Bible would be loaded with the genealogical facts I needed. And, I decided that the only way to find that Bible would be to find a descendant of Rev. John, assuming that it ended up with someone in the family.
Without knowing the names of the descendants of Rev. John Dollarhide, the likelihood of finding his Bible would have been remote. Therefore, the search for Rev. Dollarhide’s Bible meant a complete genealogical identification of all of his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. One of the descendants of Rev. John had to have that Bible!
Of the fifteen children, I knew that five of them had died as infants. I also knew of several children who lived in California, and from census records, county vital statistics, and other records, that five of the Dollarhide sons had families in Northern California. I was able to compile family groups for five Dollarhide families, showing the children of each, as well as several of the grandchildren and a few of his great-grandchildren. But, the married names of the five daughters of Rev. John were not as easy to locate. After making contact with as many of the living relatives as I could find, and asking each about the whereabouts of Rev. John Dollarhide’s Bible, I eventually learned which of the descendants had it — whose name was Keener, not Dollarhide.
The photo shows items from Rev. John Dollarhide’s Bible, copied from the original in the hands of his granddaughter, who was born a Keener, not a Dollarhide.
Trace the Descendants
Most of us are engaged in genealogical research to find our ancestors. We may prepare family group sheets that show the collateral brothers and sisters of our ancestors as part of that research. But, that is not enough if we want to find the hidden treasures. We need to carry down the descendants of each collateral family. We need to identify the children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren of not only our direct ancestors but the brothers and sisters of our ancestors.
That’s the only way you will find the lost family Bible, or find an obscure photograph, or find other unknown personal documents for an ancestor — you must find the people alive today who are descendants of the one who originally owned the documents.
Sorry to be the one to tell you this bit of bad news – genealogy is not easy if you want to find a lost Bible or other family document. But it sure is fun to find all those extra relatives, and best of all, it is very rewarding to find some of the hidden treasures.
The following teaser is from the October 16, 2011 edition of the Southeast Missourian.
The John Guild Chapter Daughters of the American Revolution and the Cape Girardeau County Archives are teaming up to help preserve local history by digitizing old family Bible records. Bibles published before 1910 are being sought for the project.
“Old Bibles are a valuable resource for genealogists and historians. They can serve as primary source documentation, providing dates of birth, death and marriage for periods when public vital records were not kept” according to Steve Pledger, director of the Cape Girardeau County Archives.
According to Drew Blattner, archivist for Cape Girardeau County, many Bibles remain undiscovered. “We have heard rumors that various family Bibles exist that may contain important genealogical information unknown to anyone alive today. Many of the early probate files list a Bible that was sold at the estate sale. We know that there are bound to be hundreds if not thousands of these old Bibles lying around on someone’s bookshelf or in an old trunk somewhere in the county. It is our goal to scan or photograph the family record section of as many of these as we can to fill in gaps in our own records.
By digitizing the records, the information can be made accessible to distant relatives and researchers while preserving the original artifact. Many of the old pages are fragile, and need to be handled as little as possible. Archivists can provide attendees with tips on preserving their family heirloom Bibles. Only the pages of the Bible with family information will be scanned or photographed, along with the title page of the Bible identifying the date of publication. The information gleaned will be transcribed and indexed by surname and made available for researchers at the archives and the DAR Library.
Last Monday (January 19, 2009) was the 200th birthday of Edgar Allen Poe. Now I see that the Library of Virginia, in partnership with the Poe Museum, is preparing an exhibition dealing with Poe’s life and works. The centerpiece of the exhibition will be the Poe Family Bible. The exhibition is scheduled to open July 18, 2009.
This Bible includes genealogical information including birth and death dates of Poe family members, as well as notes on marriages. The earliest family information dates to 1725. A sketch of the Poe family burial plot at Westminster Hall and Burying Ground is included.
For more information, see the January 20, 2009 edition of Happy News.
Read another very good article on digitization projects that will make the fragile Poe Family Bible accessible, as well as information on the Poe Museum, from the January 19, 2009 Boston Herald.