My aunt came to my house today. This never happens. When she got here, she got a little teary-eyed. "I didn't expect this," she said.
She told me, "I'm passing the torch. Your grandfather would have wanted it."
Here's the torch.
It is housed in a fairly innocuous box, though if I know my aunt, this box is AT LEAST as old as I am, if not older. You wouldn't think much of it, if you saw it sitting on a table. You might think it's garbage; it is worn in several places and the decorative striping is faded.
But ... inside, there is a treasure.
IT'S THE FLOWER FAMILY BIBLE.
"Your grandfather," she said, "always said that if anyone were going to seek the family history, it would be you. So I think you should have this."
Holy CRAP. It's mine. I have in my very own hands the single greatest piece of Flower Family history!
I might faint.
I spent time looking through it today. It's been extensively water-damaged; the first few pages have melted into the cover, so I don't know who its original owner was.
It's lighter than I thought it would be. The weight of my ancestry is metaphorical rather than physical.
It is the H. & E. Phinney's Stereotype Edition, published in 1828 in Cooperstown, New York.
The first record entered under marriages is this:
was} Jan 30th
born} of 1780
in the town of Plainf
Born July the
23rd 1788 --in the
Town of Clinton Township
County State of New York
The words are very faint, penciled elaborately, taking up the entire column.
The entry continues in the next column; someone has used a pen to darken it.
And Married in
the Ton [sic] of Milan (?)
Dutchess County state
of New York February
The writing is very hard to read; it's exactly the kind you see on old documents.
This is on the copyright page:
D. B. Murrell
Born January 7" AD 1814
October 25" 1878
I assume that is the date of his death, though it is not noted.
The front of the Bible has this inscription:
March 8 1922
It looks like a child's handwriting, though that is by modern-day standards and they may not be the same as early-20th century standards.
This was tucked into the Bible:
advertisment for Parsons' Purgative Pills
The ad talks about a circular that Dr. I.S. Johnson & Co. mailed out "in every State south of the Ohio, ... warning the people of the approach of this dreadful disease ...." The circulars went out 1878, so I guess this ad was distributed after that. Having googled the drug, I found on page 8 of this article a picture the PPP trade card and the information that this drug probably was not produced after 1900.
It goes on to say this:
"But in the mean time we urge upon every family and upon every
person the great value and importance of a frequent use of PARSONS' PURGA-
TIVE PILLS. They act directly upon the liver, purify and enrich the blood, tone
up and strenghtnen the system to such an extent that disease of any sort can
hardly get a foot-hold in a person thus fortified."
The cost of this amazing medicine?
"...send 24 Cents in Stamps to us,
and we will send a box by mail, post-paid ..."
There were several papers in the box as well, many of which are copies of letters to county clerks for information. The letters themselves were written in the 1960s, so they are historical artifacts as far as I'm concerned.
There is another list of births, starting in 1846. Somewhere along the way it seems that someone had gone back and added, because the last entry is 1828.
There's an overdraft notice on the Bank of Plato, Missouri, dated 1916. It's nice to know that financial insolvency is not limited to my generation.
Here's a letter:
Montrsoe Colo June 10/1898
Mr B L G---
Dear Son I will write a few
line we got a lettr from Ben
--- which braught to us the
Sad news that Martha was
dead she died the second
of June this laves us
all well write soon
Your Father James ---
The names are abbreviated for privacy's sake, but ... that is some kind of letter right there. Short and to the point, for sure.
And evidently there were some church elders in the family:
The Church of Christ Organized
At St. Annie Pulaski Co. Mo.
August 2nd 1891
Finally, what may be my favorite piece, is this, a section from a letter that is undated. It's not clear who it's written to, but it's town needs no interpretation.
...and that is what
we had the
fuss about i
arts last wekk
and heard the
ridiculing Me and
my family got
from you and
if i her any
more of it i
will let the cat
out of the wal-
let i dont think
you as a sister
or you would
ent have treated
Me like you ha
ve no sister
sinc the first letter
mother rote to
you she sad
she would deed
40 acres of land
apiece to all and
you if we woul
came back +
the next letter
she rote she
said she would
deed 80 acres of
land to Melvinie
Norman if she
would came back
since you denied
the 80 acres
being rote in
the second letter
Scandal! I didn't know that nasty note-writing was a family tradition!
So I will probably spend some time this summer searching out my family's origins. A lot of the work has been done already, but there's obviously so much more to learn.