Thursday, May 20, 2010

Treasure Chest Thursday - A Family's Bible-A Treasure In Our Midst

The Old Family Bible

How often do we take note of the treasures in our midst?  I lived with a treasure throughout my entire childhood, but did not understand the treasure for what it was.

While growing up, in western Arkansas, for many years, when bored, I would often find myself thumbing through an old family Bible.  The bible was passed to my father when my gr. grandmother Sallie died in 1961.  That bible had belonged actually to my grandfather, but he passed in 1940 and Sallie his mother kept it for many years. Only years later I learned that the original owner of the bible was my gr. grandfather Samuel Walton--the first to bear that name.

Rev. Samuel Walton
My great grandfather, and the 1st of 4 Samuels in the Family

There were some interesting inscriptions in that Bible---a few names I had known--I knew my grandfather Sam was the second of four (yes 4) Samuels in the family, and his name was actually the only name that I knew in that bible.  Grandpa Samuel (the second Samuel) was the one who would eventually become the soldier in the 809th Pioneer Infantry. But who were those other people?  The only person whose name I was really sure of, was my Grandfather Samuel--born in 1891.  And even with his name, I would often stare at wondering if I would ever really know any details about his life.

Inscription in Bible reflecting my grandfather Samuel Walton's birth.

But there were other names, and I would often pull out that Bible and stare at them---Lydia Talkington, Amanda Hunt, Houston Walton, Ethel Sanders.  I knew we had cousins who were Sanders, but I was not sure how they were cousins.  And who was Lydia?  Who was Amanda, and who was Houston?

Pages reflecting Gr. Uncle Houston, Amanda Hunt and Ethel Sanders

Well years later when truly I began to research the family I learned that those were the names of my ancestors. 

Fast forward to my genealogical pursuit and I would learn through a Civil War pension file that Lydia was Samuel's mother. The mother of the 1st Samuel!   And I would learn through a record from the Choctaw Nation, on a Dawes Enrollment Card, that Amanda was Sallie's mother.  Both of these names--Lydia and Amanda, were the names of two women, who were the mothers of each of my gr. grandparents. These women---were my great great grandmothers!

Amanda Hunt!  Lydia Talkington! 

The facts I know about them are still limited, but the questions are multiple:

Both were women born in the 1830s and both died in 1898.  
Did they ever meet each other? 
Did they share stories about their lives with each other? 
Did Lydia travel to see Amanda?  Did Amanda travel to see Lydia? (They lived across the Arkansas river from each other.)
What were the lives like of these two women both born enslaved?  Lydia, I learned was born in North Carolina and taken to Arkansas as a young girl of 5.  Amanda was born in the Choctaw Nation, and lived as a Choctaw slave till she was freed by the Treaty of 1866.

So many questions---but at least I know their names, can say their names, and know who they were and why their names were in that old Bible and those fading pages opened doors for me to find my past.

I later learned that Houston was an uncle---Grandpa Sam's brother.  He died young, so no stories were ever told about him. But his, like other children on those pages had their short lives recorded, and they dwell now among the ancestors, not forgotten.

I am grateful to those who did not discard that old Bible for it offered me the confirmation that I needed to know that I had found my ancestor's names.  That old bible was and is a treasure to me.

A haiku came to my mind as I encountered these names and learned who they were:

The Old Family Bible

Names on Bible page
whisper secrets of the past.
I now call their names

Page reflecting the death date of Lydia Talkington my gr. gr. grandmother


Renate Yarborough Sanders said...

Angela, that's a treasure, indeed! I love the Haiku. :)

Any chance there's a connection between your Sam Waltons and the Sam Walton of Wal-Mart?


J said...


Treasure indeed, and wonderful story. In my research, I always ask did anyone have a family Bible..

I knew we had a family bible, but couldn't find it after my aunt passed. Someone had moved it. I found it last summer in the basement. It did reveal some names which, answered questions for me.

I'm still looking for the other one.

Thanks for sharing.

Luckie said...

Absolutely beautiful Angela! What a GEM! I think many families don't understand what a TRUE treasure a family bible is.

I often think about my Great Grandmother, Annie Carter Jackson's family bible that was destroyed in the basement of my Aunt Mitzi's home.

What mysteries would it have both answered & spawned?

A the keeper of my Paternal Great Grandmother's family bible, I will it a bit more tight now.

So proud of you. Your blogging is exceptional.


Angela Y. Walton-Raji said...

Thanks Renate. So far, no connection found. (I am also not greedy---I would only ask for 1%.) But---nope---no ties to the great empire in Bentonville. LOL

Angela Y. Walton-Raji said...


Thanks so much! Indeed this is a treasure and I lived around it for years. No one living really knew who the people were--and I marvel at the fact that I have learned who some of them were. I still don't know who all the children were, but I still find myself so fortunate to have been able to answer the questions and to discover that 2 gr. gr. grandmothers were on the pages in that Bible! What a blessing!

Angela Y. Walton-Raji said...


I am glad that you enjoyed the post. Bibles are such wonderful treasures. I think of my gr. grandfather Samuel who carried it around for many years. I realized that he was the one who wrote the inscriptions on the pages. Sallie could not read or write. And of course he would put down the dates of death of his own mother, and that of his wife's mother. How fortunate I was to get it, many years ago when I asked my mother if I could have that Bible and take it back with me. I guess even then before I was actively pursuing genealogy I did it for a reason. And thankfully--she did not object to my having it.

Terrence Garnett said...

What a wonderful treasure! There was a family bible on my father's side of the family which belonged to his grandmother's sister Rosie Garnett Smith. When Aunt Rosie passed in 1982 it was given to her daughter Idell. Cousin Idell stated she lost the bible while moving, but I plan to help her clean up a bit and maybe we'll know for sure.

Max said...

That Bible need preservation.

Max Marbles/Bookbinder