I have three other family Bibles, but this is the one that I treasure the most. It’s not because it’s the oldest. It’s not because it is the smallest. It’s not because it is written in German. and It’s not because it belonged to Susannah. It’s the feeling I get when I touch this Bible and when I think of Susannah’s life and how it’s affected my life.
Susannah’s Bible is responsible for many major changes in my life. The Bible is small, written in German, leather flaking off, and probably never read. Her name is written in it, the date is written in it and Elizabethtown, Lancaster County, is written in it. However, Susannah didn’t write in her Bible, nor did she read her Bible.
You see, Susannah couldn’t read or write. It was 1839 and many women did not read or write and she was no exception. Every legal document she signed, she signed with her “X.” The Bible was probably presented to her upon the death of her first husband, Samuel Leader. That is another story. This story is about the Bible, not Susannah.
I don’t think Susannah had any idea of the travels her Bible would take or the effect it would have one of it’s caretakers.
- At some point, Susannah gave the Bible to Amos Zook Myers, a Baptist Minister. It had to be before 1884, since that was the year Susannah died. Amos had a notation in the Bible that “Grandmother Kaler” had given it to him. Susannah’s 2nd husband was George Kaylor, so I know that it was Susannah who gave it to him. However, I cannot find out how Amos fits into the family tree!
- In 1911, Amos gave it to my great-grandfather, Edwin A. Niess. I know this because my great-grandfather was a meticulous, well-organized lawyer, and he noted this on the inside of the back cover. Upon his death in 1948, his son, Edwin Mark Niess, received the Bible.
- Edwin M. died in 1966 and it sat in his basement until his widow’s death in 1989. At that point, the family papers were all boxed up and went to my aunt in Maryland. My father got the box on a visit to my aunt a year later, and Susannah’s Bible left Maryland and went to California.
- My father only had the Bible for an evening. He died the next morning, yet the Bible was on it’s way to his home in California.
- I received the Bible shortly after it’s arrival in Calfornia. (See my blog titled “Every once in awhile I reflect on how far I’ve come in my research”) I became fascinated with the Bible since I had no idea who Susannah was! I knew she had to be kin, otherwise the Bible would not have been saved all these years.
Every summer we would travel to Pennsylvania from California so I could try to find out who Susannah was. It took me over five summers to finally find out, and I just stumbled on it in a cemetery!
Five summers was enough for us to know we loved Pennsylvania. Susannah’s Bible had drawn us to her homeland. We finally sold our home in California and bought a home in Pennsylvania.
One hundred and seventy years later the Bible is home in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.
We brought Susannah’s Bible back where it belonged.