Tuesday, November 30, 2010

There's One in Every Family - Treasure of Treasures

Jasia's dedicated work with the Carnival of Genealogy and her fabulous 100th Edition celebration has inspired me. My first effort focused on a colorful ancestor, but I kept thinking of a newfound treasure. As a long-time family history researcher I've dreamed of THE find - a letter, Bible or family record hidden in a trunk or closet that unlocks the past.  I've had some successes, but none more exciting than when I learned recently that my husband's aunt has an 1832 family Bible.  Once I picked myself and my jaw off the floor I spent a few hours photographing and poring over Leonard Smith's Bible.

Leonard Smith is my husband's gg grandfather. He was born 29 March 1794 to John and Elizabeth Fenwick Smith and died 2 July 1849. Leonard married Eliza Jamison on 3 Oct 1815. Eliza was born 19 December 1795. While I've had these dates before, I have never been able to adequately document the information. I suspected the dates were from a family Bible, but had no idea which Bible or where it was. Now I know.

An aside - my husband is from a large extended family and our visits have often been group gatherings. This trip we had a chance to visit quietly with his aunt and it was then that she remembered the Bible and other documents she had stored. Moral of the story - find some quiet time to talk to the senior members of the family!

Leonard's Bible includes a family record of both his parents' children and his own children. But it also held a number of papers tucked in its pages that give a fuller picture of the family.  Included are a number of certificates of prayer intentions for the family, confirmation and first communion certificates, sheet music for a Confederate song, and a lace-trimmed prayer written in 1852 for Rev. Mother Delphina, who I quickly discovered was a Carmelite nun and Leonard's sister (born Elizabeth Smith).


An 1833 first communion certificate for Leonard's daughter at St. Joseph's may help locate the family in the 1830 census (though not as yet).  Inside the back cover are still to be analyzed pedigree charts for the family. It's a Smith family treasure trove of information that I will happily be working on for months to come. I could not be more grateful that this one is in the family!




Leonard Smith Bible (dated 1832), The Holy Bible, Translated from the Latin Vulgate... Clementine Edition of the Scriptures (Baltimore: Fielding Lucas, Jr.). Privately held. Digital Images.

Submitted to the 100th edition of the Carnival of Genealogy.



14 comments:

  1. You're the best Susan! And such a terrific article... every genealogist on the planet will drool as they read about your treasure. It's the kind of thing that brings true envy! Thanks for sharing!

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  2. OMG! What a wonderful treasure for sure! That is rare to find such a Bible that dates this old with information like that and the items tucked inside are a huge bonus!! Lucky you! Maybe your interest in it will convince your husband's aunt to pass it down to him!

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  3. What an incredible find!

    Go, you...

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  4. Wow - what a find! Jasia's right, I'm drooling....

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  5. It WAS a good day. But I have to say LIsa, I don't want to be the caretaker of such a treasure - just to be able to photograph and document it. Fortunately there are plenty of family members and should none of them want it I suspect one of the area historical societies or Catholic institutions would be thrilled to have it.

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  6. Yep, envy and drooling. Loved this post!

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  7. WOW....There is mention of the family Bible in some old inventory papers of my Ferguson family from Monongalia County, WV....my question....where is that Bible anyway??? Your post gives me hope.

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  8. Lindalee - Email me please - nolichuckyroots at gmail dot com. I have more photos I'll be glad to share.

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  9. Is there anybody who's read this and not gone away absolutely green with envy? I'm betting not! If there's one like that in my family, I haven't found it yet. Your advice is excellent, though--about making some quiet time to give the older family members a chance to recall what they might have in a closet somewhere.

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  10. What a treasure! I'm so glad she remembered-and you got to see it too!

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  11. Wonderful, wonderful. I'm so glad for you to have this information, and to have been able to hold the Bible. Now, I'm curious, but where was this Smith line from? (Yes, I have Smiths, don't we all?)Is this the aunt who turned 90 recently? It was a pleasure to read this, and to be envious at the same time.

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  12. What a great find. The only family Bible I know of burned during WWII. Great post.

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