The Smith Family Bible

It all started with the appearance of a message from someone named Brian who contacted me through Ancestry.com:

April 29, 2017

Phinney Bible with Family Name Information     

Leslie, I bought a Phinney Bible as an antique book. I found names in the Bible that I have traced to your website. I was looking at your family tree and it might be the case that these names and dates might be helpful to you. Let me know if you would like pics of the pages in the Bible this information came from.  

Michael S Smith born 8-23-1829 died age 67 December 19th

Married to Susan Walters

Hannah Smith died 12-6-1907

Two half brothers:

Benjamin J Smith died 11-28-1928 born 9-17-1864

William J Smith died 1-21-1938 born 2-10-1868

MS’s mom and dad John Smith born 9-5-1803 died 5-13-1878

Hannah Smith born 11-21-1799 died 2-28-1863 married 3-23-1823

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April 30, 2017

Wow, Brian, thank you so much for taking the time to trace the Bible information to someone (like me!) who appreciates such priceless history! YES, I would LOVE to see photos of the Bible records. If I may be so bold, could you also take a picture of the bible itself, just for provenance?

This is spectacular!

Leslie Lewis, a Smith descendant (my ancestor Polly Smith was a sister of John Smith 1803-1878)

PS, for attachments, it might be best to use my regular email:

leslie.irene.lewis@gmail.com

Thanks a million!

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April 30, 2017

Leslie

I will get the pics of the pages and a pic of the Bible to you later this evening.

Please do me a favor and let me know if the info I send you later this evening confirms that this is the John Smith in your family tree.

If it is, I would like to send you the Bible as a keepsake. It’s special to me for its age. But I am sure it would be even more meaningful to you if this is your family.

Brian

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April 30, 2017

Leslie

Here are the pics that I promised to send. Let me know what you are able to confirm.

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April 30, 2017

Brian,

Thank you SO MUCH for the photos. Yes, this is part of my Herkimer County, New York extended family. Michael Smith’s father, John is the brother of my 3x great-grandmother, Polly (Smith) Spencer. This branch of Smiths apparently “died out” as I have never found any living descendants.

You are very generous to offer to send me the Bible. If you are seriously willing to part with it, of course I would love it. But I would insist on reimbursing you for what you spent plus shipping costs. Where did you find it? Was it in an estate sale, antique store or on-line auction? I wonder what travels it has had since the Smiths possessed it. Do you live in Herkimer County?

Please let me know…. it is indeed a treasure.

With gratitude,

Leslie

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April 30, 2017

Leslie,

This is terrific news.  So here is the background on the Bible…not as exciting as you might think : )

I am LDS and I wanted to buy an antique Bible for display in my living room.  I purchased the book several years ago from an antique book seller.  He did not have any history of the book’s travels or ownership. 

I love the scriptures and a Phinney Bible just seemed like a great way feel the spirit of the Great Awakening period in the early days of our country.  The Bible is displayed on our coffee table and occasionally I thumb through it wondering whose cabins and homes it may have sat in.  When I found the names I wondered if I could find a living descendant.  My wife Angela and I both felt like the Bible should be in the hands of family members.  So I began my search.  I tried several times over the last two or three years.  Finally about a year ago I found your website.  I wanted to reach out but thought you might think it a little odd.  Recently, I really felt like I should reach out to you.  But then I could not find my notes.  Finally, I randomly remembered where I saved some of the census information I had found, which led me back to your website through Ancestry.com.

I feel like you should have the Bible as a gift from Angela and me. It looks like you have done a ton of genealogy work.  And we have long thought it would be cool for a family member related to the folks whose names appear in this copy of the Bible to have it as an heirloom.

We live in Fort Worth, Texas.  Angela’s family joined the LDS church when she was a young girl.  I have been a member all my life.  Family research is important to us and our faith as you may know.

Thank you for all of the research you are doing.  As a trade for the Bible I may ask help on some of my lines someday : )  They run into Mexico and then into Spain.

Send me your address and we will ship the Bible to you.  Who knows, maybe someday we will meet up.  We summer in Idaho and I have family on my mother’s side in Oregon.  They are originally from the Yakima, Washington area.

Kind regards,

Brian

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April 30, 2017

Brian,

You are so very sweet. Yes, genealogy has been very important to me, too. I have been researching my family and others for over 40 years. AND I have also been interested in the time of the Great Awakening. Although I am not LDS, my family has intersected with the Latter Day Saints in many ways. Some of my relatives out of New York went with Joseph Smith to Missouri and Illinois. My 4th great uncle, Moses Wade and two of his sons were with the Mormon Battalion and his daughter Minerva was one of William Hickman’s wives. There are some other connections too. For instance I lived in Yakima WA for a number of years!! That is where I met and married my husband Pete. Who were your family members who lived there? Perhaps I may have crossed paths with them?! I lived there from 1982 until 1994 and my parents lived there as well.

I would be thrilled to help you with your family lines… although I’m sure as an LDS member you are very well versed in all the research methods. My daughter-in-law also has roots that reach back into Mexico and Spain.

My family has recently gotten into the whole DNA thing… both my parents and my husband and I have tested, as well as several cousins. It is amazing how DNA can lead to clues on paths of research that had gone cold where the paper documentation had dried up.

Thank you again, Brian, and please give Angela my thanks and greetings.

Please let me know if you think of anything I can help you with on your genealogy. I would be honored to help out.

Sincerely,

Leslie

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May 7, 2017

Leslie,

I made a little progress.  I got a box for the Bible and padding for protection.  Just was too busy to get any further but wanted you to know I haven’t forgotten you.

Best,

Brian

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May 10, 2017

No worries, Brian. I’m still floating on a cloud thinking such a blessing as this can really happen out of the blue. You reinforce my belief that underneath it all, people are basically kind and caring.

Leslie

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May 14, 2017

Leslie,

Angela mailed the Bible to you on Friday.  Please let me know when you receive it.

Brian

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May 14, 2017

Will do. Exciting!

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May 15, 2017

The Bible just arrived! It’s beautiful. Later this evening I will have my husband take a picture of me holding it, and I will send it to you.

Thank you for your sweet note and your kindness in reaching out to find a family member who would cherish it.

With gratitude,

Leslie

Leslie proudly displays the Smith Family Bible

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May 15, 2017

Thanks so much for sharing the pic.  Enjoy!

Brian

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December 31, 2017

Leslie

I am driving to Portland this week and thought of you. Hope all is well. I bought another Phinney bible which is chuck full of a ton of family names from the 1800s.  What a treasure!

Happy New Year to you and your husband.

Brian

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January 1, 2018

Thank you, Brian! So glad to hear you found another treasure!! I think of you every time I look at the Bible you so kindly shared with me and my family. I did a bunch of research on my Smith line after the occasion of receiving the Bible from you. Genealogy sure is addicting. So much fun, and gratifying to shine a light on the people who came before, what their lives were like, where and how they lived, etc.

Happy New Year to you and Angela, too. I wondered if you guys felt the effects of the hurricane last fall.

Leslie

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January 5, 2018

Leslie

Sounds fascinating. We were not affected directly by the hurricane. I did go down to help clean up. It was overwhelming but like genealogy it’s a one person thing a time.

Had a great time in the northwest. Actually camped in the tree line of Mt Hood just to say I could survive a night in the cold and snow up there.  Hard to imagine those who came before us surviving such frigid temps and with nowhere near the gear we have at our disposal.

Best,

Brian

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