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Bibles help preserve our history

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By Linda Hanabarger

One of the fun things I get to do as chair of the publications committee of the Fayette County Genealogical & Historical Society is come up with ideas of material that we can publish and, therein, earn money to support our programs.

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Our most recent book, “History of Fayette County Illinois Families,” published last year, was the first county history published since 1878. Nearly half of the pages of this 200-page hardbound book are filled with histories and pictures.    
On the heels of that success, thoughts turned to a new project, and “Fayette County Bible Records-Volume 1” was born.  
From 1971, when the organization was started, volunteers copied marriage records from 1821-1915, land purchases and estate records, along with records of births, deaths and burials, some coming from the city level.
In 1973, St. James Lutheran Church held a “Bible Day,” and the late Walter Johnson, a charter member of the group, took the time to copy entries from both the Lipple and Eeck Bibles, with this information printed in “Fayette Facts.”
Since that year, records from 51 Bibles from Fayette County families have been reprinted through the pages of “Fayette Facts.”
Family Bible pages, like that of B.F. Jones’, provide blanks on a preprinted form to make it easier to know what information to include. This particular page would successfully lead any family researcher to Wayne County for his marriage license.
The same researcher would note that the entries are in different hands and, if we didn’t know, that B.F. was, in fact, Benjamin Franklin Jones.
No such form for Eugene Wilson, whose family data is written in a nice ink and hand, with lines drawn to separate births, marriages and deaths.
Charles Sumption recorded his family on a German School Schedule, where he placed the birth, marriages and deaths in the columns set aside for days of the week – Sonntag, Montag, Dienstag, Mittwoch, Donnerstag, Freitag and Samsteg.
The Samuel Bunyard Bible, one of those donated to the Fayette County Museum, has beautifully styled pages, with the entries written in the calligraphic style. This Bible may well have been a gift to Mr. Bunyard. Most of the entries are written in the same hand.
An interesting fact about Stephen was that he married three times – first to Mary Miles in 1838, second to Mary Thompson in 1856 and then 1866 to a woman whom it is said deserted him. Her name has been successfully scratched out, thus obliterating her from the family record.  
The multi-generational chart for Richard Lowe’s family members is a one-of-a-kind 24-inch-by- 36-inch wall chart designed by an uncle, who sold the beautiful hand lined charts to help put himself through college.
Each of the charts was embellished with tokens to identify it with the family purchasing it.
Richard’s has a drawing of his childhood home centered at the top.
With contributions from society members and several visits to the Fayette County Museum, more than 200 Bibles will be represented in the new book, with the oldest entry of 1743 coming from the Stratton Family Bible.  
Some of the Bibles included in the book, scheduled to be released next spring as part of the Bicentennial celebration, are those of the Albright, Beck, Boaz, Brown, Burrus, Clow,
Donaldson, Eakin, Ehrat, Farmer, Harpster, Hinton, Hissong, Jenness, Kelly, Kistler, Lawler,
Lorton, Lovett, Pilcher, Taylor, Tuttle, Walker, Washburn, Welker and Wilson, among others.  
Now in its 46th year, the Fayette County Genealogical & Historical Society continues to preserve the history of Fayette County through the efforts of our volunteers.