Thursday, June 16, 2016

Treasure Chest Thursday - Arthur Matthews' Bible

Over two weekends last September, Donald and I went through my step-mother's basement, finding many hidden treasures from my Dad's family in the way of Bibles, books, furniture, documents, photos, negatives, china and silver. After months of airing-out I am trying to devote at least an hour every week to scanning and photographing these items and sharing them with you on Treasure Chest Thursday.

On the second weekend of our cleaning out of my step-mother's basement last September, we were working our way through Dad's books. This was not an inconsiderable task. My father was a voracious reader and seldom parted ways with a book he had purchased. We were close to calling it a day, my step-mother was somewhat annoyed that we weren't taking more (Dad had an office and a library in their basement, I have a two-bedroom apartment) when suddenly she spied two piles of books on their backs behind the books on one of the shelves. As happened frequently during those two weekends, this discovery was quickly followed by a sharp intake of breath and lots of "Oh my goodness!" and other exclamations. What she had uncovered was a literal stack of Bibles and prayer books, one older than the next and all incredibly precious.

This Bible belonged to my paternal great-grandfather, Arthur William Matthews, his name barely still legible on the cover. It was likely not his first Bible, as it was published in 1901.

The first name inside is not Arthur's but that of his granddaughter, Louise Ahlers, but she was only four when he died in 1915, so perhaps it was given to eldest daughter Bess Matthews, Louise's mother, upon his death.  Later, it appears to have been passed to my grandfather while he was at Wyoming Seminary which was 1922-1924. My father signed it when he was nine, I don't know if it had been given to him then. How I wish Dad had shared these things with me when he was alive.

As I get back to my Research Plan with a capital R and capital P, I look forward to learning more about my great-grandfather's life in Coleford, Somerset, England. I believe the church played an important role in his life there, perhaps providing his academic and musical education. Information I have gleaned from his probable baptismal record leads me to believe that the family was very poor when he was born, and yet he composed music, lead the choir at the Methodist Episcopal church in Pittston, PA and played at least one instrument, the violin. Come to think of it, I wonder, with the embossing on the cover, if this Bible was a gift from the church or the members of the choir?

When I was trying to decide which parts of this Bible I should photograph, I decided that I would start with a couple of passages, Luke 2:36 and 1 Thessalonians 5:18. Family mythology says that I am named for Anna the prophetess of the Gospel According to St. Luke, so I went in search of that passage only to find a couple of pages missing. 1 Thessalonians was in-tact, though.

I Thessalonians 5:18 "In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God
in Christ Jesus concerning you."

This Bible also includes "Readers' Aids"; "Brief treatises upon and outlines of topics related to the study and understanding of the Holy Scriptures" and also a concordance and word guide including index, gazetteer and these maps.

I'm happy to have this much of the Bible photographed now, so that I can take a closer look at some of these maps without risking damage to the Book itself.

Next weeks Bible is much older, it belonged to Arthur's wife, my Great-Grandmother Ada Merritt Hobbs and she dated the inside of the cover 1867.


Wendy said...

This Bible seems to have an interesting history all to itself, traveling from one person to another.

Michelle Ganus Taggart said...

Oh my goodness is right! There seems to be no end to the treasures you are finding.