Family Bible

Standard

Yesterday, I was in contact with Emmett’s great-grand nephew. His great-grandfather was Emmett’s youngest brother, Walker. He’s been a great help with the research; the question over the past week has been about whether birth certificates exist for Emmett (or any of his siblings). The jury is not out yet (as I’ve not heard back from the state of Florida vital statistics office yet), but we’re coming to the conclusion that:

a) official documents probably don’t exist, and

b) the record of their births was most likely recorded in the Wilson family Bible.

So, the question is, where’s the Wilson Bible?

Just for the heck of it, I thought I’d trot out my family’s Bible. This is the sort of thing I believe Emmett and his family had in Chipley.

My family's Bible. The cover appears to be carved of wood. There are engravings stamped into it and etched with gold leaf. That same cover is on the top AND bottom of the book.

My family’s Bible. The cover appears to be carved of wood. There are engravings stamped into it and etched with gold leaf. That same cover is on the top AND bottom of the book. The covers are about an inch thick on both sides of this book.

 

Douay & Rheims Bible. It is a Roman Catholic Bible; quite different from the New American Bible that we use nowadays.

Douay & Rheims Bible. It is a Roman Catholic Bible; quite different from the New American Bible that we use nowadays. This book is in very fragile condition; this is only the third time I’ve unwrapped it since I’ve had it.

This was my paternal great grandparent’s bible. Their names were William H. McCulloch, a Scotsman, and Lulu Hogan. Both were from New Orleans, originally. This branch of my family has no connection to the Wilsons, by the way. I’m related to Emmett on my mother’s side.

My great-grandfather, William H. McCulloch, 1890, New Orleans.

My great-grandfather, William H. McCulloch, 1890, New Orleans.

My father inherited our family Bible from his great aunt, who inherited it after my great-grandmother died. Dad gave our family Bible to me, because, well, I love these things and he knows my penchant for old books and family history.

As you can see, it is extremely fragile. I keep it wrapped in linen cloth, stored in a proper box, in a cool, dark closet on a shelf where I know it is safe. I’ve had an estimate on it for restoration, which around here costs several thousand dollars, given the size/weight/age and historic value of the book. Seriously, the quote I received to have this restored made me have to pick up my jaw off the floor — I know. I work with old books. I should know this, but still. I’m a teacher. It isn’t like I have spare thousands laying around.

Because I’m not going to get this restored anytime soon, I keep it quarantined and rarely handled. I don’t display it, ever. This is only the third time since my Dad gave it to me that I’ve unwrapped it, and really, the first time I thought to photograph it. I thought you’d like to see it. So, here it is:

Some of the detail on the cover, which features impressed Roman Catholic symbols.

Some of the detail on the cover, which features impressed Roman Catholic symbols.

 

One of the covers still has brass closure clasps. As you can see, also, a number of the pages are separated from the binding. Most of the pages are attached, though the original binding is coming apart.

One of the covers still has metal closure clasps — not silver, maybe steel? As you can see, also, a number of the pages are separated from the binding. Most of the pages are attached, though the original binding is coming apart.

 

Inside the front cover were odds and ends. I had no idea what was there.

Inside the front cover were odds and ends. I had no idea what was there.

Like any family Bible, there were documents and little mementos inserted into the pages. This was what I saw right inside the book. The top item was simply folded tissue paper.

This is what else was there:

A receipt from the old Valley Department Store from downtown Vicksburg. What was it that my great grandmother purchased that she put this in the Bible?

A receipt from the old Valley Department Store from downtown Vicksburg. What was it that my great grandmother purchased that she put this in the Bible?

 

Also, right underneath the receipt was this:

The bill for my great grandfather's headstone and the setup of the family plot in Vicksburg. It has marble outlining the plot. Also, they took a tree down from it for all of six bucks.

The bill for my great grandfather’s headstone and the setup of the family plot in Vicksburg. It has marble outlining the plot. Also, they took a tree down from it for all of six bucks.

There was also a modern prayer card with a large image of Christ on the front, and prayers on the reverse. It was from the early 1950s.

The next pages were about the book itself:

notinLatin

Leo13And then, surprise, there was this:

presentedtoI remember hearing from one of my grandparents that the family Bible was given to my great grandparents as a wedding gift. I can tell that this book was expensive back then; also, it made perfect sense to me that it would be a wedding gift. Here’s the next thing I found which clued me in to when it was given:

lulu'sbibleLulu Hogan. Also known as Sarah Louise Hogan McCulloch. This was hers. She and my great grandfather received this as a wedding gift. Lulu’s handwriting is the first entry.

There was also a page for births, but my photo turned out blurry. Argh.

Here’s the next page:

deaths

 

There was color artwork in the book, too:

The Bible has several color photographs, but this was the only one with a fern pressed on the page. I didn't see any other pressed flowers or ferns in this book, although I'll bet it was used for that purpose. This book weighs 13.5 pounds. I put it on the scale before I opened it up.

The Bible has several color drawings, but this was the only one with a fern pressed on the page. I didn’t see any other pressed flowers or ferns in this book, although I’ll bet it was used often for that purpose. This book weighs 13.5 pounds. I put it on the scale before I opened it.

In the back of the book, was this section:

Several pages, unused, for photos. I wonder why they didn't use them?

Several pages, unused, for photos. I wonder why they didn’t use them?

This Bible has a lot of interesting sections. Unfortunately, there wasn’t anything else tucked into the pages. I think perhaps whatever else was there was removed by other relatives.

As you can also see, this was not an insignificant book — it is a hulking massive, 13.5 pound tome that likely sat in a place of honor in my great-grandparents’ home. It is HUGE. It is in what I’d call good condition for something that is about 135 years old, and had been passed to four different generations. The Wilson family Bible, if it exists, would be at least 20 years older (Emmett’s parents married in 1866), if they had one like this.

This thing takes up most of the space on my large desk, even minus its wrapping. Closed, it was slightly larger than 11x17.

This thing takes up most of the space on my large desk, even minus its wrapping. Closed, it was slightly larger than 11×17.

My family’s Bible also doesn’t appear to have been used that much. This is not a piety inventory of my ancestors; schlepping this Bible around would have required a wheelbarrow.

Anyway, I have smaller prayer books in my possession that belonged to my great-grandparents as well as my grandparents, and they are much more portable and well-thumbed. I feel pretty certain this was the Bible for show and repository of important documents. This gigantic book was not their daily ‘go-to’ Bible.

The importance of the family Bible cannot be underestimated in genealogical research. As I mentioned in earlier posts, it is not likely that Emmett has an official birth certificate on record. His family was large — 10 children — and they must have had a record of everyone’s birth, death, and marriage written down somewhere. I’m still checking out a few other sources before I rule out the existence of his birth certificate.

It would be great to find the Wilson family Bible. I have a few leads on this one, too. Stay tuned. That thing may actually turn up.

Advertisements

One thought on “Family Bible

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s