Family bibles are a treasure for genealogists and often recorded important events like births, deaths, and marriages. Family bibles were especially popular in the 1700s and 1800s, and families passed them down from one generation to the next. Their popularity began to wane in the 1900s. One 1936 newspaper article bemoaned the fact that family bibles no longer seemed to occupy a conspicuous place in the best room of the house. Family bibles often contain meticulous records and can reveal lost family members or previously unknown details about a family. Have you ever tried searching the newspapers for information about your family bible? We’ve come across some fun family bible stories over the years.
Family bibles can prove a relationship, and historically courts used them as evidence to award inheritances. In the early 1900s, a Delaware man was thrilled to find his family bible housed in a Philadelphia museum. He and other heirs had searched for the book for 30 years to validate their rightful claims to a nearly $2 million family fortune.
In another instance, a Detroit man claimed he found a note inside the family bible in 1931, naming him the recipient of an inheritance. Authorities questioned the note’s authenticity, and the case went to trial. Prosecutors charged the man with conspiracy for faking the note. He denied the charge and the courts ultimately ruled in his favor, and he received the money.
In 1912, the Los Angeles Times published a dramatic account of Horace G. H. Tarr, a wealthy Philadelphia contractor who first traveled to California in 1853 via the Isthmus of Panama. The paper describes a tragic journey for travelers. Their ship sank, and hundreds of passengers died, including Tarr’s father. A whaling boat rescued survivors, including Tarr and his mother, and transported them to California. When they arrived in California, the Tarr family was distraught to find their household goods, including the family bible, were missing. The goods had arrived on an earlier ship, and when nobody showed up to claim them, the shipping company sold them. The bible contained a complete genealogy of the family, and 60 years later, the loss still haunted Tarr. He returned to the state, hoping to find the book. He placed personal ads in the newspapers, but there is no record to show if his efforts met with success.
During WWI, a Canadian stationed in Dublin wrote home to tell his family that he had found a family bible with original military certificates belonging to his 2nd great grandfather. The certificates contained the original signatures of King George II, and the soldier realized for the first time that military service ran in his family.
More recently, some genealogists have discovered their family bible for sale on eBay. In 2011, a South Carolina man came across his family bible and purchased the book for $165. The book originally belonged to his 4th great-grandfather and dated to the 1700s.
Newspapers include many more stories about people finding their family bibles. A Florida man was thrilled to discover his family bible inside the cornerstone of a church scheduled for demolition. Another family found an 1850 bible under their stairway. An abandoned ranch contained a dust-covered family bible still proudly displayed on a table.
Have we piqued your interest? Searching the newspapers for information about your family bible is like a treasure hunt. Give it and try and search today on Newspapers.com™.