Bibles show mute evidence of the past.

I unexpectedly got in touch with my inner historical child today through an unexpected encounter with an old Bible.

I grew up loving stories about my grandma’s growing up on a homestead in Alberta and the family using catalog pages for toilet paper and Gram and her next-in-line sister, Meryle, perched on back of a horse to reach the local, one-room schoolhouse.

My great grandmother wrote down the names of each new daughter in the family Bible.

Another family Bible — now long vanished — played a role in showing where a 4x-great grandfather came from. Evidently, he never shared any details of his family or past with his wife and children and their children. Whatever happened to divide them, he stuck to his resolution to say nothing.

Except, in the family Bible. After his death, one of his descendants leafed through grandfather’s old Bible. And there she discovered he’d written down that he hailed from Pennsylvania. The lines for the writing of his mother and father’s names was blank.

I was reminded of those stories today while riding the bus today.  An older man sat down next to me much to my surprise. There were vacant seats to be had — however, he said he had something  I might like to see.

Now, I don’t know why he picked me. I wasn’t wearing a t-shirt marked with “History is the bomb!”

But I was glad he perched next to me. His treasure was a vintage Bible — leather bound, brass fittings. The original owner had signed his name and the year 1860. Gilt-edged pages still shone, the lithograph colored illustrations of King David and the Apostles still intact. The spine was in bad shape, but the new possessor said he planned to get the Bible restored.

1860. My 4x-great grandfather was still alive then and the westward movement was taking place with folks travelling to Oregon and California in covered wagons to homestead. On the national front, the debates over slavery and electing a new president raged. Women including my grandmother’s English-born grandma, using wood stoves, wash tubs and “sad” irons to care for their families and homes.

This Bible — and the ones owned by my great grandmother and 4x great grandfather — feature the elegant handwriting of the past. The recording — or not — of family lineage. The stories found in the Bible that probably provided the only entertainment allowed on the Sabbath days. Showing mute, small evidences of who these original owners were, like the delicate dried flower found in my great grandmother’s Bible.

Treasures indeed.

(C) 2017 by Mary Louise Van Dyke. All Rights Reserved. For more information contact her at