The Journey Home of an 1870's BIBLE
A big thank you to Sandra Leavitt from the Osoyoos Branch in our Vernon, BC Stake for sharing this inspiring story of the journey home of an 1870's family Bible! Sandra is the Stake and Branch Temple and Family History Consultant. She was recently involved in the research and delivery of an 1870's family bible from England! She hopes that this story will encourage others to want to research their own families to experience the joy that comes from family history work! Here is her story:
The Journey home of an 1870s family Bible
In 1978 James Peden moved into a house in Wigan, Lancashire, England, and found a large, leather-bound Bible that weighed 2.5kg which had been left behind by previous occupiers. The Bible moved from house to house with Mr. Peden until 2022 when he challenged his long-time friend William Dunbar to find living descendants to pass the Bible on to. William, a retired Scottish police officer, is a dogged family researcher. He likes to hunt down ancestors and descendants alike to be able to enrich their lives with the knowledge of their family history, so he accepted the challenge … Game on!
The family pages inside the Bible revealed that it had once belonged to Peter Latham who was born in 1850 in Ormskirk, Lancashire, England. Mr. Dunbar dove in by starting a family database in Ancestral Quest so he could keep everyone straight and see where information gaps were. As he was researching English records, he found a gravestone for the Latham family at Holy Trinity Church in Bickerstaffe, Lancashire. Flowers had recently been placed so he left a message for family to contact him. While waiting to see if he would get a response, he continued his research and exhausted all the family lines in England. His last hope was a granddaughter of Peter Latham, Ann Latham, who married Harry Walmsley Jones and emigrated to British Columbia, Canada.
It was here that the intrepid researcher lost the trail and turned to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints FamilySearch Library in Osoyoos, British Columbia, Canada for help in finding Latham descendants. Sandy Leavitt, Stake and Branch Temple and FamilySearch Library consultant took on the file with great excitement. This is just the type of research that Family Search Libraries excel in – finding and reuniting families.
Volunteers at the Library took up the quest and within two days found living descendants. Contact was made with the family, and they were most anxious to receive the Bible. A trip was arranged to meet the Jones family of Kaslo and Ainsworth, British Columbia, and give them their family Bible.
As the great-granddaughter of Ann Latham, Casey said, “We didn’t need to travel to find our family. They came to us.” The gift was received with awe. Gratitude filled the air. It was a joyous occasion in which William Dunbar, in Scotland, shared via FaceTime. He saw his incredible gift being presented to Latham descendants so he could see a happy ending to the journey of a Bible that is more than 100 years old and contains the handwriting of the Latham family descendants.
A binder to accompany the Bible was also presented to tell the journey of the Bible from England to Scotland and then Canada. William Dunbar’s research included 186 Latham family descendants and was documented in Family Group sheets, Ancestral charts, and census records. The binder also included research done by the Osoyoos FamilySearch Library on Canadian civil registration documents and local newspaper articles and printouts of various websites.
Records used to find Latham descendants were church records, birth, marriage, and death records, obituaries from local newspapers, cemetery and census records, Google searches, Ancestry.com, and the Jones Boys Boats business website which gave a history of the business and the family which helped confirmed this was the correct family even before making contact with them.
If you are wondering how to start your family history, or if you have hit a brick wall with a family line perhaps your local FamilySearch Library can teach you how to get started or get you back on track. Visit https://www.familysearch.org/centers/locations/ to find a location near you.