In early 1998 I received an unexpected E-Mail message from a young man named Don Vest who lives in Elizabethtown, Kentucky. He informed me that he had recently purchased a very old bible from the owner of a local Ashland gas station. The bible had come into the possession of the owner when he found a lady throwing "old stuff" into the trash bin at his place of business. The station owner was the type of man who collects old items and odd bits and pieces of local history, so the station is apparently the residence for many such items and curiosities.
Don has a dream of becoming an archaeologist and so was attracted to the prospect of discovering more about the family members listed in the worn and torn pages of the bible. The names in the bible led Don to believe that the original owners were named Thomas and Elizabeth Pipes. Although not related to the Pipes family, he purchased the bible from the station owner and started an investigation of its contents, strictly out of curiosity.
Don Vest found my home page address for the Pipes family while doing some research into the Pipes surname. Shortly after that I received the E Mail from him, in which he suggested in a polite way that the bible might be available to purchase, if I were interested. I have to admit that I was skeptical and remained cautious that this could be a scam and an attempt to extort money for a non-existent bible. I had no intention of sending any money for a "pig in a poke".
So, the matter rested for over a year, with no further contact from Don and no initiative on my part, the bible rested in Don's home in Elizabethtown. Then a breakthrough occurred when Joe Pipes, who happens to live in Elizabethtown, made contact with me about his side of the Pipes family. After several discussions about the Pipes family in Kentucky, I asked Joe if he would consider making contact with Don and actually examine the bible. Joe agreed and shortly after that he confirmed the authenticity of the bible and we negotiated the purchase.
In the fall of 1999, Tom Cockerham, who had met Joe Pipes at the Perryville reunion in 1999, agreed to carry the fragile book and its contents to Milwaukee. Tom lives in Lexington and is a descendant of Nathaniel Pipes and a 2nd cousin of mine. His son lives a very short distance from me and so we met in October of 1999 to view the bible for the first time.
Two questions were foremost in my mind when I first examined the bible. How old was the book and who were the true owners? Unfortunately, the first few pages of the old testament and the pages that front the old testament were missing. However, the title page for the new testament provided valuable clues. The bible was printed by the American Bible Society. This is an organization that specializes in distributing bibles throughout the world and they are still in operation. This first page states the name "American Bible Society" and informs us that they were first formed as a company in 1816 ( in Roman Numerals). Then, one line down, the year 1853 is printed in numerals. I would scan this page in so it could be seen, but it is in very poor condition and cannot be handled without further damage. I do have a photo of this new testament front page. NEW TESTAMENT FRONT PAGE The date can barely be seen at the very bottom of the right hand page. Also note the name John Pipes, barely visible on the left page. The paper has deteriorated from the acid that was in the ink used, causing the brown stains and paper loss. I am assuming from the 1853 date that the bible was printed in 1853, making it nearly 150 years old. I am still working on further proof from this date that it is the true date of printing.
The book is in very poor condition, most of the binding has come loose and several pages have extensive staining and loss of paper.
The bible holds many notes, a marriage license, lists of persons born and married and two locks of hair, one is blonde and one brunette. There are a few pressed leaves and also one list of names that is on different paper than the original bible, added at a later date no doubt, by someone who held the book in temporary stewardship. One page in the bible was used by a young John David Pipes ( a son of Windsor Pipes and an uncle to Thomas Pipes) for practice of his penmanship, as he wrote his name several times over in ink. The inside front and rear covers also have what can best be described as scribbling or doodling, probably done by a child.
Who were the original owners of this bible?
All of the following families and names are listed in the genealogy report for John Pipes Jr. and Jemima Harriman.
The oldest names in the bible are of the family of Windsor Pipes (1798-1860). This Windsor was the son of John Pipes and Eleanor Slater from SW Pennsylvania. Windsor relocated his family to Meade Co. Kentucky after spending some time in Harrison Co. Indiana, where he married Christina Sappenfield. They had at least 10 children and probably 5 sons, among them Windsor (1840-1900), John David, Alexander, Daniel and one possible twin whose name is not known. (We do have a picture of Christina and her son Alexander). This photo came from Ron Pipes, a descendant of Alexander.
The next family to be listed in the bible is the son Windsor (1840-1900). Windsor was married twice and his wives and children are listed as well. He had 4 children, two boys and two girls. The boys were named Thomas (1870-1936) and Robert, the girls were Christina and Marry. Windsor and his brother Alexander served in the Civil War and were members of a Kentucky Cavalry unit.
Thomas Pipes (1870-1936) appears to be the owner of the bible for some time as all of his children are listed and his marriage license was in the bible in an envelope. Thomas married Elizabeth Thompson in 1890 and they raised 9 children in Meade County, Kentucky and Clark County, Indiana.
It is difficult for me to determine which family was the original owner of the bible, but it definitely was in the family of Thomas and Elizabeth. It could possibly have been in the family of his father Windsor. One fact to consider is that the name John David Pipes appears in a childish hand throughout the book and he was a brother to Windsor. The other is the date of the bible which was 1853.
I have taken several photos of the bible and will show them here.
Picture 1: Inside the front cover is an envelope with the marriage license for Thomas Pipes and Elizabeth Thompson.
Picture 2: John David Pipes wrote his name in several places.
Picture 3: One of the family record pages.
Picture 4: Another record page.
Picture 5: The outside cover
The bible must have passed to one or two generations after Thomas and Elizabeth. The name of Hardin Watkins is somehow associated with the bible and the name Watkins appears in the pages. He was a family historian from northern Kentucky, but it is not known at this time if he was a descendant of this family or not.
Thomas had a son named Wilie (or Bill) born in 1899 and a daughter named Mary Jane, born in 1898. There is a note written in red ink on page 818 of the bible from Mary Jane to Bill and his wife Velva. This note was written in 1955 as Mary Jane copied some dates and names from the bible. So I have to believe that the bible was in Bill's family at least to 1955.
We do not know how it ended up in Elizabethtown, but probably by being passed from generation to generation until it lost its significance, or perhaps Bill did not have any children.
If you have other questions or if you have further information on this family, please let me know.