Thanks to the prompting of a fellow Genealogy Blogger, Jeanne Bryan Insalaco of Everyone Has a Story, a blogging theme for November is to write about our family heirlooms and share their origins and stories. Those of us who are fortunate to have family treasures may or may not know the provenance of each item. My first blog is about a treasure I find intriguing but it is an unsolved mystery.
LATIN BIBLE- DATE 1581
Walk into any antique store and you will find it crammed with knickknacks, furniture, photo albums, portraits, toys, and clothing. Discarded and forgotten by family members such treasures wait for a new home. My brother-in-law calls it all “family junk” but my sister and I call them treasures. The story behind your family heirlooms adds another dimension and may save a piece from being consigned to an antique store or relegated to the dustbin when you are gone. Have you recorded the stories you’ve heard about inherited family heirlooms?
My family has an old Latin Bible, printed in London England in 1581, with editorial contributions by Immanuele Tremellio and Francisco Junio. The ownership signature is by Benjamin GALE, date 1733. Is the date a special occasion? If so, there is no indication what it is. There are no other markings that show who earlier nor succeeding owners were. The Bible is probably Catholic since the Protestant Reformation had only occurred about 70 years before. There is a Latin inscription on the back cover that I haven’t deciphered, so if anyone reading this can translate, a clue might be uncovered.
The “story” is that it came through the NICHOLS side of our family. They are one of my brick walls and can only be traced back to Matthias NICHOLS born about 1796 in Virginia, according to the 1850 census. I have found no other records for Matthias and his wife Sarah, other than the one census. More detail is found in a previous blog about his son Thomas Ackley Nichols.
Is there is a connection between the NICHOLS and GALE families? Was the Bible passed down from one generation to another? Did someone in the family acquire it from a friend or purchase it? My maternal grandmother, Anna Jane BEATON HYDE, was the “keeper” of family heirlooms. Her mother had 4 siblings, two died before the age of 20, and two never had children. My grandmother only had one brother, who never married, so she inherited many family heirlooms. My maternal grandfather, John F. HYDE Jr., was an only child, and he too inherited his share from his father, John F. HYDE, and his mother, Mable NICHOLS HYDE. They both passed it all on to my mother, also an only child. I am the family historian and I relish solving these mysteries and making the connections.
The Bible intrigues me and we preserve it in our family in an archival box, but we know nothing about its’ origins. If you have any recommendations, please leave a message.
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