Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Henry Family Bible...Reunited and it Feels So Good!

Teri Wheeler presents Henry Family Bible to Sandy Kinnaman.
Just before Thanksgiving 2013, I was determined to find a family for the old Bible I had rescued from my mother’s garage.  My mother, Mary Ellen (Davisson) Roberts had passed away on 03 September 2009.  She had a small prefab house in Anderson, Madison County, Indiana which she had purchased from her brother-in-law and sister, Calvin Chlorice “Joe” and Sophia Mae (Davisson) Gourley in the 1970’s, in which my brother, Ronald Stephen Roberts, lived.  After my brother passed away on 13 June 2010, my sister, niece and I had the daunting task of cleaning the house to get it ready to sell.

In a dark, dusty corner of the non-attached garage, I discovered an old cardboard box containing an even older, dilapidated and heavy family Bible.  My sister wanted to add it to the pile of items destined for the local landfill, but as a genealogist, I knew that family Bibles can hold a wealth of information not found anywhere else…and I have a great respect for Bibles.  I don’t know how the Bible came to be in my mother’s garage or how long it had been there, but I won my battle that day and the Bible was put with the “keep” items to be relocated to my sister’s garage since my own garage was located in Florida at that time.

Fast forward to 03October 2013…  As fate would have it, my husband and I had relocated to Kosciusko County, Indiana.  My sister, lived a mere two hours away in Muncie.  I was determined to get my items from the “keep” pile from my sister’s garage to giver here more space, so my husband I visited her, took her to dinner for her birthday and proceeded to load up our great grandmother’s antique dresser, the Bible and a few other keepsakes into my husband’s truck.  We returned to our home in Leesburg and unloaded the truck.  Now the Bible sat in my garage!

Shortly after obtaining the crumbling Bible, I carefully took it out of the box for a closer examination and began photographing it with our Sony Bloggie.  The binding and intricately engraved covers were held together with masking tape.  I turned to the title page.  The Bible was printed in Indianapolis, Indiana in 1881 by the Bowen Merrill Company.  No wonder the Bible was disintegrating …it was 132 years old! 

Now for the exciting part…I located the page certifying the marriage of Joseph Milton Henry and Mary Mahala Hunt.  They were married on 07 October 1880 in Eden, Hancock County, Indiana.  Other pages in the Bible listed the births, marriage and deaths of their children and grandchildren.  The Bible also contained a report card, a tithing card, and an obituary.  Even though there appeared to be no connection to my Davisson family in Henry and Hancock Counties, I photographed each page.

After photographing  and scanning the pages and documents the Bible contained, I started a new family tree on Ancestry.com just for the Henry Family Bible.  I made it public so the information will be accessible to anyone researching this family.  It can be viewed here: http://trees.ancestry.com/tree/63474404/family  I also posted the pictures of the Bible to the tree. 

Not long after creating the family tree, I noticed someone else researching the same family on Ancestry.com.  I emailed Judy Parker Walker from Panama City, Florida and asked if she was related to the Henry family.  She told me it could be her daughter-in-law’s family and she would get me in contact with them.  The next day I received an email from Sandy Kinnaman from Eden.  Her husband was a descendant of the Henry and Hunt families.  We made arrangements to meet.

Just before Thanksgiving 2013, I was standing in the Sandy’s dining room in Eden, returning the Henry Family Bible to the family.  As we were leaving Sandy’s house that day, I felt as if I was forgetting something.  I looked back and saw the Bible sitting on her dining room table.  With sadness and joy, I knew my job there was done.

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