Our Family Bible

Dec 19, 2010 | 3 comments

The John B. Pryor Bible

     Our family Bible goes back five generations to John B. Pryor, brother of my three times great-grandmother Rachel Pryor Taylor.  John, returning from a gold-hunting expedition to California, died when his boat overturned crossing the Mississippi on February 27, 1849.  He was twenty-six years old and, according to family records, he drowned rather than discard the gold-heavy belt he carried around his waist.
     John’s birth and death dates, along with those of many other members of my maternal grandmother’s family are recorded on pages at the end of the Old Testament – pages dedicated to that purpose.  The Bible, itself, is leather-bound with John’s name stamped in gold on the gold-embossed cover.  The Good Book measures 9 inches wide, 13-1/2 inches tall, 3-3/4 inches thick, and weighs 12 pounds.  It is handsomely illustrated throughout with steel engravings – altogether an impressive volume and well-deserving of its place of honor in the household.
     I sometimes wonder if it is the very Bible that my grandfather Harry Espy used to read aloud from each Christmas Eve.  It was his habit, when his children were young, to gather them in front of the library fire and read the lovely old Christmas story from the Book of St. Luke – this while my grandmother was lighting the candles and putting the other finishing touches on the tree in the parlor.
     The Pryor Bible seems too big and unwieldy for that reading, so it was probably another Bible that he chose.  Goodness knows, the house has enough of them!  Right now there are twenty-two Bibles on our library shelves!  Four are New Testaments.  In addition, there is a Torah, a Book of Mormon, and several histories of various other religious denominations.
      Among all those books of scripture is my own Bible.  It, also, is stamped in gold with my name and the date it was given to me – “Sydney Medora Little, Christmas 1944.”  Its cover is the most tattered on the shelf – not a matter of usage, but probably one of World War II quality.  Nevertheless, it is the one I choose for our own reading of the Christmas story each year, with just a little nod of apology to John Pryor for eschewing his gigantic tome.


  1. Stephanie Frieze

    I was fortunate enough to inherit a Bible, while not as old as yours, which belonged to my maternal great-grandmother Amanda McCollum Austin. She must has brought it to Ocasta with her from Indiana where she and her husband lived before coming to WA Territory because it records the death of her first child before they left there. Such things are treasures.

  2. Dennis Yancey

    are there any other family record pages in the bible other than the one sown above?

    • sydney

      Dennis, when I have time I’ll take a look. Why do you want to know?


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