Welcome Mayflower Cousins

This blog is full of information for applications to the Society of Mayflower Descendants in the State of Ohio. Check back often to learn more about producing a successful application. Click the email link at the bottom to be notified of new posts as they happen.

Our contact information is:
Ann Gulbransen, Historian, ohmayflowerhistorian@gmail.com
Lee Martin, Assistant Historian, buckeyemayflower@gmail.com

Saturday, August 27, 2016

BIBLE RECORDS - Are they acceptable proof ??? Well, it depends.

Many of you are lucky enough to have family bibles that were kept by your grandparents and previous generations. There is a section in most bibles where births, marriages and deaths can be recorded. For some if these events, the family bible may be the only place they are recorded.

When are these family records considered primary documentation for your Mayflower Society (or other lineage society) application? There are a lot of factors to consider.

First, you need to know who owns the bible today, who owned it originally and how it traveled into the hands of the current owner. The provenance of how it was handed down in the family can add or detract from the credibility of the data.

Next, you need to know how old the physical book is. The best way is to make a copy of the title page that has the date when the book was published. You need to know this so you can judge if the events that were recorded happened after the book was published or years earlier. A bible published in 1850 that records events starting in 1860 is worth a whole lot more genealogically than a bible published in 1950 that records events starting in 1700! Events recorded long after the fact are hearsay and are considered circumstantial evidence at best.

Now, look at the handwriting. Does it look like all the entries were written by the same person at the same time (same hand, same ink)? If so, then this is again hearsay. If the handwriting and ink looks different on the entries, it is much more likely that they were written at the time the events occurred and are genealogically much more credible.

The next thing to look at is the completeness of the data. It is rare that you will find places listed in bible entries, but sometimes you will get lucky. The important thing is to see if relationships are specified. A long list of names and dates with no indication of how the people were related does nothing to help you link the line carriers in your lineage. The best bible records specify relationships. Remember, a document has to say what you are trying to prove!

What about bible transcripts? Often, the original bible cannot be located, but you have a transcript, either handwritten or published. The first thing you need to do is find out who made the transcript and when it was made. That will give it some credibility. You won’t have the clues from the handwriting, but a good transcript will show the date the bible was published and all the details including any recorded relationships. A transcript is never as good as an original, but it is sometimes all we have.

So, having a family bible is a wonderful treasure for your family, but its worth as a genealogical record depends on lots of factors. For Mayflower, if the bible does not meet the above criteria, it will be considered as an unpublished family record and circumstantial evidence only. Is your family bible a good record - maybe - maybe not - it all depends...

Inspired by a post by Gregory Evan Thompson in the Mayflower Descendants Facebook group.