PHOTOS: Genealogy Society tracks down owners of 166-year-old Bible

Larry Short wanted to find the owner of a 166-year-old Bible found in an old family home, and engaged the Campbell River Genealogy Society to help. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror.Larry Short wanted to find the owner of a 166-year-old Bible found in an old family home, and engaged the Campbell River Genealogy Society to help. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror.
Campbell River Genealogy Society president Christol James shows the wear on the 166-year-old Bible. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror.Campbell River Genealogy Society president Christol James shows the wear on the 166-year-old Bible. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror.
The family register of the Buck family, then of Crossfield, Alta. helped volunteers track down living family members. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror.The family register of the Buck family, then of Crossfield, Alta. helped volunteers track down living family members. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror.
Christol James from the Campbell River Genealogy Society shows the family registry in the Buck family Bible, which was found in an old farmhouse in Alberta. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror.Christol James from the Campbell River Genealogy Society shows the family registry in the Buck family Bible, which was found in an old farmhouse in Alberta. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror.
The date on the Bible is 1854. It was found abandoned in a farm house in around 1930. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror.The date on the Bible is 1854. It was found abandoned in a farm house in around 1930. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror.
Christol James from the Campbell River Genealogy Society flips through a binder of family history that will be sent along with the Bible to a surviving member of the family. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror.Christol James from the Campbell River Genealogy Society flips through a binder of family history that will be sent along with the Bible to a surviving member of the family. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror.

In the 1930s a woman found an old family Bible in an old farmhouse and thanks to the Campbell River Genealogy Society, it is about to be returned to its rightful owners.

Larry Short is the Campbell River man who inherited the Buck family Bible from his mother in the 1990s. She was the woman who found the Bible in the old farmhouse. It collected dust in Short’s home ever since he took possession of it..

“I didn’t just want to throw it out. I kept it for a long long time,” Short said, adding he thought that “somebody would probably really value this Bible. It’s very old… With the family history in there, it might be important to somebody.”

Short took it to the Genealogy Society, which is often asked to take on these kinds of challenges. Thanks to the hard work of society president Christol James and volunteers Rita Balboni and Darlene Watson, a descendent of the Buck family who now lives in Kelowna, Kevin Cooper, will soon get a piece of his family’s history.

“To be honest, at first I didn’t know that it was real,” Cooper said. “It took some convincing. I had to see some pictures and whatnot. They were just throwing some information at me, and it sort of seemed like a scam in the beginning. Once I found out, I saw the actual names in the Bible itself I thought it was very cool.”

Cooper has also been working on his genealogy for around 10 years. An influx of information on his family’s history will help him dig deeper into the past and fill in blank spaces on the family tree.

“I’ve got over 900 people on [the tree], but it’s just kind of growing wider,” he said. “I want to grow the roots a bit deeper and that’s why it’s neat to get something like this. I can actually start to verify things and get the roots to get a bit deeper and go further back as opposed to new babies and births and deaths, the current changes.”

And the genealogy society is happy to have been a part of his work.

“We did quite a bit of research, and it’s all provided in the binder,” Watson says. “It’s up to Kevin to carry it on. If it was mine, I would do a lot more of course, but this is a start for him.”

Genealogists use all kinds of records to track down family histories. The Campbell River society is a volunteer group that helps people with anything from small questions about their history to larger projects like this one.

The Buck family Bible was a rich information trove, which gave Balboni and Watson a lot to go on.

“As families, we don’t carry Bibles as much as we used to, and they were great ways of remembering the people in our families and sharing that history going forward,” said Balboni. “There’s still a lot of people who have these Bibles, and they tuck them away and lug them around, then someday when someone asks ‘where do I come from…’ this is how [we find out]. It’s important.”

“Back in the 1930s, a family just couldn’t make it, so they left,” Short added. “My family took over the farm. They just left with what they could carry in this car I guess, and they left a lot of things behind, including this Bible, which had a lot of family history and information in it, births, deaths and that kind of thing.”

Through their research, they were able to find out that the Buck family had come to Canada from the United States to build a homestead north of Calgary. The wife in the family married young, at around 16 years old, in 1900. She had around eight children over the next 13 years which included Cooper’s great grandmother, and the mother left the family soon after that. The rest of the family left their homestead in Crossfield by the 1930s. Short’s mother moved into the Buck homestead after they left, and found the Bible. It has been in her possession ever since.

“We’re going to have to package it up fairly well to send it. It’s not in very good shape. All the pages have brown spots on them,” said James. “These things are not particularly valuable. They’re only valuable to the family that has connection to them but he may want to keep some kind of archival protective thing so that it doesn’t get any worse.”

Cooper said that he will give the Bible to his mother for Christmas. She already has a family Bible from her side and this new addition will help add more information to their story.

“I wish my dad was still around to see it. He passed away around five years ago. I’m going to actually save it for a Christmas surprise for my mom. She’s got a lot of the old pictures and another old family Bible from her side of the family. I think she’ll think it’s pretty cool,” Cooper said.

“I’m just excited to have a little piece of history and share it with my family.”

Those interested in working with the Genealogy Society can contact them via their website or by visiting the Genealogy Library in the Maritime Heritage Centre.

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