Bible Surprise

Not Just a Book

Family Bible

At first glance, this might just appear as an old book sitting on a window seal. This was a book full of surprises, I wasn’t sure what I would find. A member of the local historical society had a book she thought I might find interesting. Interesting is exactly the word I would use after a close examination.

Family Bible
A Book Full of Information

Such a family treasure from Virginia, a family Bible that had some obvious wear and tear. At one point a family member hand stitched a leather cover on the outside, I assume the original had been badly damaged. As you can imagine I was curious to see who the Bible belonged to and what family information was inside.

Family Bible
Hand-sewn Cover

In looking through the pages I came across the page below. Listing the names, dates of birth for some members of the “Coats Family.” The ink had come into contact with moisture but for the most part, it was pretty legible.

  • Francis Ann Coats born December 26th, 1820

    Family Bible
    Coats Family Births
  • John Richard Coats born October 15th, 1823
  • Mary Elisabeth Coats born June 27th, 1825
  • James Coats born March 16th, 1827
  • Robbert Coats born February 10th 1829
  • Henry Stapleton Coats born December 1830


Many of you know family Bibles can hold so much information. What a treasure to have the names with their birth dates listed. Well, I should say that is just a small and I do mean very small peek into this treasure. The following four pages caused my heart to pound and my eyes to water. I couldn’t believe what I was looking at. Handwritten information that many who are searching for the ancestors, their enslaved ancestors would love to find. I saw the names of slaves, when some were purchased and from whom they were purchased. The births of their children along with the names, the names of the mothers and their children. On a few, I notice they were sold, their names and dates they were sold.  

Family Bible
Families of Slaves

The Story Continues

Another amazing side to the story, the lady who showed me the Bible purchased it at auction. She has no direct connection to those listed in this family Bible. When I asked what she plans on doing with the Bible, she wasn’t sure.  I offered a few suggestions but ultimately, she wanted to keep it. I even offered to purchase the Bible in hopes I could place it in a museum or archives of some kind. But again, she wanted to keep it and use it as an educational tool in some way.

Luckily, she allowed me to take some photographs.  I’m going to begin sharing the names that I can decipher. So please share this post and the future post on the “Coats Family Bible.” Hopefully, those searching for their enslaved ancestors who were from Virginia on the Coats land will find answers.

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