Friday, September 20, 2013

Serendipity in a Rare Bible

Serendipity in a Rare Bible
Image Credit: Ed and Dawna Jones
More than 40 years ago a man walking through an alley came upon an old, antique Bible in a trash can. He readily recognized it as a treasure. It was an 1815 edition compiled by Rev. Joseph Knight. Measuring 12 by 18 inches and weighing nearly 15 pounds, the old and worn book contained beautiful illustrations and etchings illustrating the scriptures. The man rescued the Bible and gave it to the Rev. Carl Whitlock, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Pacific Beach in San Diego. Rev. Whitlock and his wife, Gwen, discovered another treasure hidden in the pages of the Bible, an extensive genealogy of an English Hammond family going back into the 1700s.

The Whitlocks made the determination to find and give the Bible to a descendent of the Hammond family. Through the decades they searched unsuccessfully among friends, acquaintances, and members of their congregations. Finally Gwen decided to donate it to the San Diego FamilySearch Center.

She called the center and talked to family history missionary, Elder Ed Jones. She asked if the center would accept an old family Bible. He said no, the library didn’t accept donations and had no space for it. Fortunately, his wife, Dawna, overheard the conversation. She grabbed the phone from out of his hands and told Whitlock, “Yes, absolutely, please bring it in.”

The following day Whitlock brought in the Bible. Dawna examined the Bible and found it to be one of her husband’s direct ancestral lines. Then they cried.\

“It’s been such a wonderful, spiritual story of how God put it for him to find, to bring to me, for me to hold it for them,” Whitlock said. “Then for God to impress me to take it the day the Joneses were there is a miracle of huge proportions.”

That is what we call, serendipity in genealogy.

For a better telling of the story, see Trent Toone’s article, “Rare Bible Rescued from Trash Provides Missing Family History,” Deseret News, online edition ( : published 22 July 2013, accessed 10 August 2013).


  1. Here's another Hammond bible now on eBay...seems that Hammond family can't hold onto their bibles...

  2. Lovely story! I had a similar experience. In 2008, I found a scrapbook of cards in an Antique store. I bought it for the old cards (1920s through 1940's) and when I got it home found that it had four pages of birth announcements. I made a tree on of as many of the announcments as I could identify. I'm happy to say, I connected with family members and was able to get the entire scrapbook back to a descendant.


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