A treasured family heirloom was the family bible. There were not many homes that didn’t have a bible in early Appalachian days. In fact, this was usually the only book in the home. Children as well as adults learned to read from the family bible. During early school days, the Bible would be read by the teacher just before the class recited the Pledge of Allegiance to the American flag. In many Appalachian families, the mother would gather the children around as the father would read scripture each night before bed.
Birth certificates were not issued until the early 1900’s, so the family bible pages would contain the only proof of names and dates of births, deaths, and marriages of family members within the home. As soon as folks could get their official certificate of birth, they were required to bring proof, which was found within the family Bible. Men who went to war carried the family Bible to show proof they were old enough to serve. My grandfather, Paul, changed his birthdate in order to enlist in service before he was old enough.
As a family history researcher, I obtained copies of my 3rd great-grandfather Allie’s family Bible pages. I was also able to get photo copies of my 2nd great-grandfather Singletary’s Bible along with copies of the pages. In the last few years, my dad gave me his mother’s family Bible. He told me he wanted me to have it in case anything ever happened to him. These are great treasures to me and one day I will pass them down to my children and grandchildren.