Is Your Lost Family Bible on Fold3 in a Pension File?

Genealogists are always in search of that long-lost family Bible that will conveniently fill in all missing branches of our family trees.

  • We diligently trace all living descendants of our target family.
  • We post queries to every online genealogy board that we can find.
  • We scour the antique shops in our ancestor’s community.
  • We write endearing letters to every distant cousin (self-addressed, stamped return envelope included!).

Then at some point, we either resign ourselves to the fact that the family Bible was lost in a fire years ago, or convince ourselves that it is not-so-lost, in the house of that one distant cousin who refused to return our self-addressed, stamped envelope.

Imagine that you are a descendant of Winborne Futrell of Trigg County, Kentucky.  You know that he was a veteran of the War of 1812 – it says so on his tombstone.  You know his wife’s maiden name, Colson – the marriage records for their home county survive.  But you don’t know that his widow filed for a pension for his War of 1812 service, or else you know but you never make the effort to send for a copy of the pension application from the National Archives.  After all, the real genealogical gold will be in the family Bible, right?  Your valuable genealogy research time is better spent looking for that Bible…but you never find that Bible and write it off as lost (or in the clutches of that unresponsive Futrell cousin).

You hear about’s growing collection of War of 1812 pension records and decide to take a break from licking envelopes addressed to newly-discovered cousins.  You look in the Kentucky index and quickly find your Winborne Futrell listed.  A few clicks later, you are looking at the family Bible, which has been in Washington, DC since the pension application was submitted by his widow in 1880:



You quickly utter a silent apology to your distant cousins and spend the next 14 hours browsing through the vastness of Fold3’s collections looking for other lost family Bibles (including their complete set of Revolutionary War pension applications).

Only a portion of the War of 1812 pensions are available on Fold3 (as of this writing, they are a little over half-way through surname letter H).  You can accelerate the digitization of these invaluable records by contributing to the Preserve the Pensions effort being co-sponsored by the Federation of Genealogical Societies, the National ArchivesFold3 and Ancestry.

While enjoying the rush of finding that long-lost family Bible, you notice the added benefit of a historical fact that your ancestor noted at the bottom of the second Bible page:

“The locuses [locusts] caim in the year 1868”

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