Family Bibles

Inherited object bring heritage with them, but also their own burden of responsibility. Generations end up keeping them because they’re family things.

What to do with this stuff?

I used to wonder if I’d ever inherit anything. My grandmothers lived to be 93 and 97 years old, but didn’t have any money, no grand treasures to leave their aging children and middle-aged grandchildren.

But they left other heirlooms, including old Bibles. I’ve become the keeper of family Bibles from my motherline.

Laura Goff’s Bible

Laura was my great grandmother. Her daughter’s memoirs alerted me to check inside the old Bible with boxes of my mother’s keepsakes, which also included her mother’s mementos. Yes, Laura Goff had bought the Bible when they lived in Key West, Minnesota, in the early 1900s.

I also learned that Great Grandmother Goff had read it through twice after she was widowed and moved from Dexter, Iowa, to Omaha, Nebraska. It looks like she read it a lot more than that through the decades.

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Laura Goff, Key West, Minn. They lived there from 1903-1904. (She also made that little doily.)
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Laura Goff moved to Omaha with her sons in 1935, so it’s interesting that she came back to Dexter to join the Methodist Church and be baptized there.

Clabe Wilson’s Bible

Clabe was Laura Goff’s son in law, married to daughter Leora (Goff) Wilson. His handwriting is on a clipping saved within the New Testament’s pages.

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This was a serviceman’s Bible. I wonder whether it had belonged to one of Leora’s brothers.

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Folded into pages here is a clipping called “Why Is Gossip Harmful?” based on James 3:1-6. He probably save the clipping because he’d been hurt by gossip.

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Clabe, a shy man, wasn’t a church-goer. But he must have drawn strength from passages in the New Testament.

Leora Wilson’s Bible

Leora was my mother’s mother, the record keeper, the caretaker of family letters, postcards, telegrams, Bibles. You can tell that she spent plenty of time reading her Holy Bible. It’s interesting that Clabe gave her this Bible the second Christmas of World War II. By then they had three sons in the service. A year later, one would be Missing in Action.

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Danny Wilson’s Bible

Servicemen were given small New Testaments. The most poignant family one was returned with Danny Wilson’s effects after he was Missing in Action the spring of 1945 in Europe. I’ve wondered at what point my grandmother, or one of her daughters, actually opened the small Bible. What tears they must have shed, as I did when I discovered what Danny wrote in it.


A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children. – Proverbs 13:22




  1. You are lucky to have such treasures. The oldest family Bible I have is from the 1850’s, not very old, However I do have a family baptismal gown that was hand made over 300 years ago.

  2. To think how much history there is in a family Bible! I read the newspaper article that Clabe saved. It applies as much today as it did in his day. Thank you for posting it.

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