Before county-state records were officially recorded for births-marriages and deaths, these records were kept in the churches. However, if a person was born at home, not have a baptismal, married by a circuit rider, or buried in a family graveyard, there might not be any church records. Yet, most every family households (even non-religious ones) had the family Bible, handed down over the generations and inside were bound printed blank sheets where records could be handwritten of births, marriages, and deaths in a family.
So if you have not seen if your family has such a family Bible, you start now to investigate. Check with all your relatives — aunts- uncles- cousins – nephews, etc. If there is one with a certain aunt with her married name, there just might have listings for her direct birth lineage such as parents and siblings.
The family Bible might have traveled with family members, far away from the family hometown. If there was no one in the next generation to take the Bible, it might have been in an estate sale. A good place to check are any thrift stores in the family hometown as well as any in towns that branches of the family have lived.
With the online site of eBay, there is another source to find family Bibles pickup in estate sales and put up for auction. To give you an idea of the number available, on a typical day there can be 200 to 500 antique or old family Bibles up for auction on eBay. You would need to place ‘antique, vintage or old’ with family Bible to help narrow the search. Some sellers list the surnames and or locations listed in the bible for sale. There are some bibles dating back to the 1700s. Read the description a seller has as to the contains to see if there are any surnames from your family tree. In the Holman Company production of a 1872 bible, the seller also had, “It has some family history inside for the TURNER family. It’s nice because it has written to the right of the names, the relationship of that person to other Turners.” Now that would be quite a find.
Many family Bibles were written using the family’s native language, especially German was common. Yet, any with another language can be translated.
Even if you don’t find a family Bible on eBay, keep rechecking since there are hundreds placed each week.
Remember to check with hometown genealogy societies and local museums. You never know what might be stored.
Once you locate a family Bible, check also every page. There can be stuck deep between pages, an old newspaper clipping, a photo, a letter, a note, even pressed flowers from a wedding or other special occasion. These mementos had significant value to your ancestors, that’s why they were left in such a safe and treasured place: the family Bible.
Photos: Turner family bible plus family information sheets on eBay; the Skinner family with 2 bibles on eBay.
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