Old Bible finds new home

Clyda Lodge

Over 30 years ago my mother-in-law came in possession of a family bible that, as the story goes, was carried in the saddlebags of a circuit preacher in northwest Ohio during the 1870s. This was the family bible of my deceased father-in-law who passed in 1986. For several years my mother-in-law attempted to find a family member to whom she could give the bible. Every avenue she searched turned up no living relatives.

The bible was huge: six inches thick, weighed eight pounds and was printed in the 1850s. To collectors this book was of considerable value. However, money was never a consideration in finding a family home for this document. After the passing of my mother-in-law, the bible became the responsibility of my husband and me. We immediately focused our efforts on locating a living relative. My mother-in-law had been searching for descendants with the name Geisinger. We searched the bible and determined that while the owner of the bible had been Geisinger, the prevalent line of births and deaths recorded in this document was Nyswonger. The births and deaths were in the 1820 to 1917 range. We decided that the last two recorded births posted in the bible would be the family line on which we would focus. One happened to be Victoria Nyswonger Mote, born in 1900. Through simple math we knew that any descendant of Victoria would at best be an elderly grandchild, a middle-aged great grandchild or even a young great, great grandchild. Western Ohio seemed to be the center of this family, therefore Nyswongers in Western Ohio would be the center of our search.

We spent 16 hours of intense research going through internet postings, phone records, obituaries and calling or emailing potential descendants. Finally our search narrowed down to the family name Mote in Miami County OH. After several calls we reached a grandson of Virginia Nyswonger, David Mote age 67 in West Milton, OH. David not only told us of his grandmother but also mentioned other relatives listed in the bible that we had not discussed. We knew we had found the proper descendant, and he was thrilled. We sent the bible to the Mote family.

My husband and I belong to the Robson Ranch Genealogical Club. The information we have learned from club members and outside genealogical speakers who come to our meetings on a regular basis provided us with the knowledge, the discipline and the staying power to successfully complete our search.