Family bibles and genealogy: Readers share their stories

Family bibles and genealogy: Readers share their stories

I wanted to share some of the responses to the recent post about heirlooms with genealogical value.

family bible sears catalog

My family is not the only one to have a family bible with inscriptions from ancestors. The huge bibles were common, and could even be ordered through the Sears catalog, as shown above. One reader writes:

"I have a similar bible that my family brought over from Cornwall, England. It has my Great Grandfather and all information up to my brothers and myself."

Love the detail about the bible still being used to record family members! And why not? Current family information will be important to future generations who inherit the bible.

And, as we always say, properly preserved paper records (whether charts, books, letters, or other documents) can last hundreds of years. I doubt any of the carefully built online trees on Ancestry will be accessible by our children and grandchildren 3 decades from now, owing to the relentless drive of its Wall Street parent company to squeeze profits from users.

Another reader talks about her family's loss of an even older bible:

"When I was a high school student, we visited cousins in Missouri. One was my great uncle, one generation down from my great grandfather, a Confederate veteran. He told a tale from his father of driving the mules to get the mail and having the mules stolen by jayhawkers on the way back to the farm. Later when he died all the adults got really mad at his wife but all I got was she threw out some family papers. Later when I started research on my own, I found letters from his sister. Then I learned that the family papers tossed in the garbage included the family Bible going back to Virginia in the 1700s."

I can sympathize. On two branches of my own family, irreplaceable family papers were discarded: Once in the 1960s during a move, when the house had to be cleaned out. Another loss took place in the 1990s after a death and nearly everything in the attic was trashed, including family papers and photos.

It's a loss, but it's also understandable, particularly when grieving children are struggling to sort through a loved one's belongings.

There is a lesson in these experiences: It's important to share paper genealogy records (or copies) with relatives early and often. Future generations will be grateful!

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