Saturday, March 21, 2015

Queen Ellis' Bible

This week, instead of highlighting a couple or family, I thought I would highlight a genealogical document. I chose my mom's mom's mom's mom's family Bible.
Queen Ellis' Bible
Queen Vistie Snipes was born 10 January 1899 in Union County, North Carolina. She married Clyde Ellis on 5 April 1914 in Lancaster County, South Carolina. The Bible was printed in 1924, so this would have been her Bible as a married woman.
Copyright dates found on second page of bible
Queen didn't fill in any information on her parents or grandparents in this Bible, but she did complete the Children's Register pages with all 13 of her children's birthdays. Here is what she included (I have left all of her original spellings as she wrote them):

  • James Clarence Ellis, born 11 January 1915 in Chesterfield, South Carolina; married Ola Mae in Kansas City, Missouri
  • Virgil Vernon Ellis, born 6 June 1917
  • Albert Ellis, born 18 April 1918
  • Robert Ellis, born 8 June 1929
  • Arthur Fred Ellis, born 17 July 1921 in Gastonia, North Carolina; married Marie Conner in 1962
  • Jessie Roberta Ellis, born 21 November 1922 in Gastonia, North Carolina; married Everett M. Grimm on 2 February 1960 in Dinsmore, Florida
(Side note: I find it interesting that Jessie Roberta, my great-grandmother is listed as marrying Everett Grimm instead of her first husband, my great-grandfather, Gerald Dean Richerson. I wonder if Queen didn't approve of their relationship.)
  • Dorothy Ellis, born 23 March 1924 in Gastonia, North Carolina; married Warren H. Hall on 11 November in Lancaster, South Carolina
  • Clara Ma Ellis, born 17 January 1925 in Gastonia, North Carolina; married Veto A. Vespoint in York, South Carolina
  • Earl Dugar Ellis, born 17 September 1927 in Gastonia, North Carolina; married Renee
  • Margaret Mae Ellis, born 23 July 1931 in Charlotte, North Carolina; married Don E. Penninger in Lancaster, South Carolina 
  • Mikie Berry Ellis, born 27 September 1933 in Charlotte, North Carolina; married Francis White
  • Franklin D Ellis, born 29 October 1936 in Charlotte, North Carolina; married Faye Dowell on 28 August 1960 in Statesville, North Carolina
  • George Emitt Ellis, born 22 November 1939 in Charlotte, North Carolina
I love seeing how the first child was born in South Carolina, followed by several who were born in Gastonia, and then seeing the family finally settle down in Charlotte where my grandmother eventually was raised. I always find it fun to follow the families as they grow to see where they move to raise their kids.

I love old Bibles, and this is a great one. I think it's fantastic to be able to see my great-great-grandmother's handwriting as she wrote out the names of her children, made notes in the margins of the text, and tucked newspaper clippings inside which were important to her. Plus, the fact that this is a large Bible (measuring over a foot long), it gives insight into the role religion played in Queen's life.

My favorite part of her entire Bible, however, is a completely non-genealogical page I found inside: The Family Temperance Pledge.
Family Temperance Pledge page from Queen's Bible
Being that this bible was copyrighted in the early 1920s, the topic of alcohol and alcohol consumption was a controversial one. I found this page added a touch of character to the Bible that I wasn't necessarily expecting otherwise. This pledge provides a list of 12 rules or ideals by which the family is agreeing to follow:
Family Temperance Pledge
Rules 1-6
  1. Moderate drinking tends to drunkenness, while total abstinence directly from it.
  2. It is said on reliable authority that in recent years one boy in five becomes addicted to drink by the time he is 21 years of age.
  3. Intoxicating drinks can do no good as a beverage, and there are always safer and surer remedies to use in case of sickness.
  4. The idea of moderation is full of deceit, and our estimate of the power of our own will is usually a mistaken one.
  5. The drinking habit is the cause of the larger portion of the misery, poverty, and crime in our land.
  6. Both science and experience prove that even moderate drinking is injurious to health.
  7. Eternal interests are often forfeited through drink, for the Bible declares that no drunkard shall enter heaven.
  8. The Bible pronounces no blessing upon drinking, but many upon total abstinence.
  9. It is easier to keep a pledge publicly, solemnly given than a simple resolution.
  10. The pledge protects us from the solicitations of friends, and removes us from the temptations of the saloon.
  11. Persons miscalculate their ability to drink in moderation, and become slaves to the drinking habit before they are aware of it.
  12. Intemperance obstructs civilization, education, religion and every useful reform.
To me, more fascinating than the existence of the page at all is the fact that it isn't a "completed" page. No one signed it. Is that because Queen was indifferent to temperance? Is that because she was opposed to temperance? Or did she simply not want to mark a beautiful page in the Bible unnecessarily? My grandmother, who currently has possession of her grandmother's Bible, may know the answer. I will need to ask her about her grandparents' views of alcohol next time I speak to her. 
Queen Vistie Snipes Ellis
Provided by Thomas Cardenas
  • Queen Vistie Snipes Ellis, 1915-1962, The Holy Bible, Hertel's New Standard Alphabetically Indexed Bible (Chicago, Illinois, USA:  The John A Hertel Co., 1924); privately held by Clara R. Findley.
  • Photos of Bible taken June 2013 by Brittany Jenkins
  • Photo of Queen Ellis provided by Thomas Cardenas

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