Hidden Between the Pages of a 130-year-old Bible
In the fall, I blogged about the restoration of a family bible which was published in the late 1800s. Because no births, marriages or deaths were recorded in the bible, I speculated that while it probably came from the McKenna branch of my family tree because it was passed down from my great-grandmother, Helen (McKenna) Dickinson, it could have come from the DuRoss family (Helen’s mother), or the Luke family (her mother-in-law). At the time, however, I didn’t devote any additional effort to narrowing it down. A separate family bible was also passed down, but it contained Dickinson family birth, marriage and death records, so the origin of that bible was clear and I knew that the unmarked bible didn’t come from that branch of the tree.
Last night I decided to search more carefully through the bible for clues, thinking that there might be something handwritten on a page or on something inserted between pages, as I had found in the Dickinson bible. I started going through the 500-page bible, one page at a time. Incredibly, tucked deep between the pages, I found a tiny 117-year-old newspaper clipping. It was only about a half-inch wide and two inches long, but it was the death notice of my great-great-grandfather, Cornelius McKenna, who died on December 6, 1898.
This half-inch by two-inch newspaper clipping was tucked between two pages of the family bible. It reads, “McKENNA – In Boston Highlands, Dec 6, Cornelius McKenna, 38 years. Funeral from his late residence, 8 Sherwood ct, off Bartlett ct, Friday, Dec 9, at 8.15. Services at St Patrick’s church, Dudley st, at 9 a.m. Relatives and friends are invited to attend.”
After finding the death notice, I reassessed what I knew. Cornelius and his wife, Susan (DuRoss) McKenna, were Catholic, and this is a Catholic bible. The Luke family was Methodist, not Catholic. Susan and Cornelius were married in 1882. The bible was published in 1884. Having found Cornelius’ death notice between the pages, I now believe that this bible did, indeed, belong to Susan and Cornelius McKenna, and that they purchased it during their marriage.