Family History Moments: Not for sale

One evening in 1982, while assigned to Seymour-Johnson Air Force Base in Goldsboro, N.C., I happened upon an auction site and stopped to look over the estate. I noticed an old Bible. Printed in 1850, it was a Quaker edition copy containing the hand-written record of a Mark Pike family. Active in the local genealogical society, I recognized the family name immediately. I was saddened to see it for sale. I determined that I must purchase it and convey it to a family history guardian.

The auction the next day seemed endless. Finally, the Bible was presented. I bid and someone countered. I raised the bid; again it was countered. So it went until I could go no higher. It seemed I would not achieve my objective.When the bidding was over I asked the new owner if I could hand copy the family record. As I was copying pages, an elderly gentleman passed and exclaimed that here was the old family Bible. I sighed, "Yes indeed, and it's been sold!"

It turned out that he was the administrator of the estate, and he said, "This Bible is not for sale!"

He talked with the auctioneer, who then spoke to the buyer. Just as my heart leaped for joy, I found myself being dragged from the building by the angry would-be buyer, who was cursing and muttering something about a trouble maker. Before he hit me, someone stepped in and restrained him.

The administrator apologized and inquired as to my interest in the family Bible. I explained my intent, and he invited me to take it to the library and make as many photocopies as I thought necessary.

The next day, Sunday, I was assigned to teach in our branch's priesthood meeting. I took the Bible record copies and rehearsed the events of this story to the priesthood brethren as I taught a lesson on family history, testifying of the importance of the work. Our visiting high council representative asked to see the copies from the Bible. To his astonishment, it was the very record of his forebears he had been seeking. While I felt driven to preserve this old Quaker Bible, I had no idea the information would be so gratefully received the very next day!

Subscribe for free and get daily or weekly updates straight to your inbox
The three things you need to know everyday
Highlights from the last week to keep you informed