Posted by: Kerry Gans | April 5, 2012

Family Bible Bonanza

Regular readers will know I am deep into genealogy. I love digging into the past to find the stories of my ancestors. This week, a tragedy led to a genealogical goldmine for me.

My uncle by marriage died suddenly last week. My parents went to my aunt’s house to help her start to sort things out and make her plans for the future. While there, my aunt told my mother, “I’ve been wanting to give this to Kerry for about 10 years. It’s the Warren Family Bible.”

Well, when I heard that, I was hyper-excited! Every genealogist reaches brick walls, and James W. Warren, born 1815, is one of mine. He married Mary Hobson, and he was killed in a train accident in 1852. Dying so young, there is not much information on him. His death certificate indicates he was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, but I have been unable to locate him or his family there.

So a Warren Family Bible could be a huge breakthrough! HUGE is a good word – the Bible itself is a foot long, 9 ½ inches wide, and a whopping 3 ¾ inches in page depth! And it’s heavy! I swear it weighs more than my toddler.

Unfortunately, the gold-inlaid inscription on the front made it immediately clear that this was not the Warren Family Bible, but instead belonged to Mary Hobson Warren and her second husband, Daniel Leinau. So there was no breakthrough for James W. Warren.

However, there was a great deal of information on Mary Hobson’s family! I confirmed some research I had done, and got new information pushing the Hobson line back 2 more generations. It is often very hard to find information on the wives’ lines, so that is valuable and exciting data. The earliest date in the book was 1754—before the USA even existed. Fantastic!

I also have information on what happened to James Warren’s children, so I may be able to find more about their father through their census forms. You never know what little piece of data will open the floodgates!

A new mystery was raised, however. Barbara Boss, died April 19, 1836 at age 72, which means a birth date c. 1764. Who the heck is she, and why is she in my family Bible?

So although I did not get more information on my brick wall, I am immensely happy with the find. Just holding those pages from the book, seeing the handwriting change through the generations is evocative and connects me to the past in a concrete way that few other things can.

My ancestors’ stories, written in their own hands. What more can a writer ask for?

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