This is the kind of story that just makes you feel good all over. About 12 years ago, my aunt presented me with a very old bible discovered in my grandparent’s house in Dayton, Ohio.
A Family Relic
When my grandfather passed away, my aunt happened to find it. My aunt knew I was into genealogy, so she sent it to me. The bible was time worn and was falling apart.
Although I couldn’t find a publication date, the bible probably dates from the turn of the century. It contained a few obituaries, and several pages of births, deaths and marriages, some from the 1800s!
Historic surnames listed in the bible include Morton and Grey, in addition to Hughes. The bible clearly at one time belonged to Walter Louis Hughes (b. 1912) and his wife Emma (Lee), who were from Maysville, Mason County, Kentucky:Walter & Emma Hughes
Walter’s parents were Walter Hughes Sr. and Bertie (maiden name unknown). Walter migrated with his wife and children from Kentucky to Dayton, Ohio.
Walter and Emma had a large family—I counted at least 10 children in the Bible (Goldie, Mary, Emma, Ruth, Walter III, William, Joyce, Audrey, Michael, and Trenia). Walter’s obituary was in the bible:
Wouldn’t their descendants love this bible?
Trying to Find Descendants
Afrigeneas was one of the first websites to focus on African-American family research. Using Afrigeneas, I posted queries looking for these families.
Amazingly, I got an email back from a woman named Mary. Her mother was from Maysville and a Hughes cousin. She was thrilled and excited. Her mother is also involved in preserving Maysville African-American history.
After that, I dropped the ball. I don’t know what happened. Probably just the stuff of life. Recently while preparing for a renovation, I came upon the Bible again.
Fortunately I had printed out the email from Mary and placed it in the box. However, that was back in 2002. I called the numbers, feeling awful about not having sent the bible when I had the chance.
But as the spirits would have it, Mary’s phone numbers were the same! She remembered our correspondence all those years ago. I sent her the Bible immediately, because I know if that were my family, I’d just about die to have it.
I also digitized the pages. Even though the Bible is not in the immediate family (i.e., one of Walter & Emma’s children), I’m glad its within the extended family. It’s also back in Kentucky where it belongs. I wanted to post it here just in case any of Walter or Emma’s descendants decide to do an Internet search.
Out of curiousity I looked up Walter and Emma Hughes and found them in Kentucky in the early 1900s.1920
I hope one day their descendants can hold this beautiful book in their hands. In it, they can find over one hundred years of their family’s history.
I am an engineer by day, but my true passion lies in genealogy. I have been a researcher, writer, lecturer and teacher for over twenty years. This blog is where I share family history methods, resources, tips and advice, with an emphasis on slave research, slavery and its aftermath. This lifelong quest has helped me to better know my family’s past. I’ve taken back– reclaimed– some of that lost memory, especially that of my enslaved ancestors. I hope you’ll sign up to receive my posts—if you do, you’ll get a free PDF with some of my favorite tips! And please do share posts that interest you.