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.

Marriage register from family bible

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.

San Francisco Examiner April 5, 1912

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.

The Tampa Tribune May 11, 1977

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™.

Share using:

Related Posts

30 thoughts on “Family Bible Finds in the Newspapers!

  1. I Bought a old family bible mid 1990s in Bangor maine that belonged to a family in texas in 1850s And was taken to california
    Thru use of newspapers and other genealogical resources I decided to try to return it to the family if possible 2 years ago
    I found the family got in touch with them and returned it
    They we have surprised and glad to get it back

    1. That is definitely a GAK (Geneological Act of Kindness). The world needs more people like you!

    2. I am all for preserving family bibles and ensuring they get returned to family who are interested in preserving them!! Great Job!
      BUT just as important or probably MORE important – than simply reuniting a bible with family
      is ensuring DIGITAL images of the record are taken and then uploaded to public sites like FamilySearch memories.
      Sooner or later many bibles will still ultimately and unfortunately end up being destroyed or lost
      BUT digital images – uploaded to multiple sites like FamilySearch and/or Ancestry – can live on almost forever.
      PLEASE ensure digital copies are taken and preserved.

  2. I have been searching for years for the Miller Family Bible in Lauderdale County, MS. This was the family of Charles Gause & Martha (Jones) Miller. Charles and his wife were probably married somewhere in or near New Hanover County, NC, but around 1835 they migrated to Lauderdale County, MS. Charles died in Apr 1877 in Lauderdale County. We know that one daughter had the bible. She had married a Fant McElroy. They had no children. It is a believed that one of Fant’s relatives took the bible. This woman denied ever taking it to the day she died, but everyone in the area said she took it. She died a few years ago in Sumter County, AL. She also had no children. The trail ends there. It is heartbreaking not to know where this bible is. I don’t have to have the bible itself. I’d just like to have copies of the copyright page, and the family pages. I’ll gladly settle for that.

    1. Try the state archives, including its digital collections. My state’s archives has some of my family’s Bible records online.

  3. My father was a Navy pilot and when he was in London, just for the day in the 1960’s, he bought a huge old bible at a flea market in a park for a souvenir. I remember the bible growing up, and when my mom and I were downsizing we wondered if we could find the owners. Using Ancestry we were able to return the bible we had for almost 60 years to the family in Australia.

  4. My family Bible was given away by a family member to a charity company and I have been searching for 3 years.
    The only distinguishing mark in it was a large picture of ‘William of Orange’ on horseback – glued to the inside cover.
    I have searched everywhere and used social media but so far, it has not surfaced. It’s so sad to have something that my ancestors valued so deeply that it was one of the possessions they brought from Ireland when they immigrated in the 1840’s.
    Maybe I too will be surprised with a reunion!

    1. Our local “Savers” charity is for the Boys and Girls Club. I know they send their extra donated clothes all around the US and sometimes overseas. I don’t know about articles donated that are not clothing but if they have the same policy, your family bible could have gone anywhere. On the other hand I have never seen a book with writing or underlining in it on their shelves. I have purchased several newer bibles at this store but they don’t have any marks in them or anyone’s name printed on the cover or inside.

  5. This is all really cool
    and newspaper articles can be a real treasure to Family Genealogists.

    BUT one should also consider the possibility that in some cases of rather fabulous stories
    that not everything that gets published in a newspaper was always based on the real facts.
    and Family Bible forgeries are sure to have occurred in some rare cases where there was financial motive.

  6. Being recently very interested in my family history, I visited home to look at both our family bibles. The oldest was my great grand mother’s from my father’s side. I was shocked to find out that I had a great uncle that I never knew of who died of scarlet fever when he was only 6. Further more, upon visiting graves where they were all buried I was able to correct the record in find a grave and add pictures. I also found a great number of records, my G-Grandmother’s and her sister’s birth records from Switzerland! Also along with a number of sunday school records and news paper clippings from the early 1900s.

  7. The DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) had a family bible project since at least 2007, to scan, transcribe and submit family bible records. I think the plan was that some were being published in books, possible grouped by location, I’m not sure if that happened. There were always some old bible records in the DAR Genealogical Research System, but the new bible records index was announced in 2015. Check

    1. DAR has been working with Family Bibles since its inception I think. (for nearly a century I think)

  8. If you have a Family Bible to pass on and do not have someone. Where can you send it?

  9. In addition to looking on eBay for family Bibles (check the closed listings as well) there are two other sites that always have them;
    They are both auction sites. They don’t always do a very good job describing or taking adequate photos but you can message them for info. If you get side tracked and decide to bid on something you should know that both sites tend to charge excessive shipping…

  10. My maternal grandmother had the Clark Family Bible. Someone had removed the family photos. She said her sister took them. Then I noticed changes had pen made with ball point pen. Check very carefully when you read your Family Bibles. On Ancestry, I found the corrections were not correct! There are a lot of stories handed down, that are not correct. I found a lot of things in old newspapers, about my family that was not talked about.

  11. My stepfather erased my dad’s name from ours and put his name instead and changed our last name. It totally worked me off and my mother said he had th right as he was now our father. I refused to change my name but my brother did and made the family very unhappy. My dad was a very good dad and kept in touch with me a my kids till he died at 92 and so did my uncle at 92. My step father was an abuser among other things. I am proud to keep my father’s name. I don’t know if my grandmother ever had a family bible as I never saw one

  12. I’m fortunate to have the family bible featured in this story about my great-grandmother, as well as the historical information from the article. She passed away the year I was born, and my family would never have been able to accurately pass along all the details from the article. This and another family bible were what sparked my interest in genealogy at about 7-8 years old. I have digital scans of the birth, death and marriage records from the mid-late 1800s, and have a customized preservation box for it and also separately preserved the history pages, which had long been mostly or fully detached from the binding. Overall the book is not in great condition but I’ve taken care of the historical pages as well as the photos and other items that had been stuck inside.

Comments are closed.