The inscription in the book reads “January the 8, 1883 presented to Rebecca E. Garee by W.H. and M.A. Hamilton her father and mother.”
In 1883, Rebecca was 30 years old, living with her husband and children in El Dorado Springs, Cedar County, Missouri. Her parents were living 315 miles away in Lincoln, Sedgwick, Kansas where they had lived since 1869, “when the family migrated to Kansas they lived in Towanda a few months that winter, while the father was building a log cabin on the homestead just inside the Sedgwick County line. This home which the family moved to in the spring of 1870, was the first log cabin built in Lincoln (township.)” — from their daughter, Martha Ann’s obituary.
I do not believe the inscription is in Rebecca’s handwriting (see my post Yours as ever, Rebecca E. Garee). The 1882 publication date indicates it was new when given to Rebecca. The book includes only the new testament and the Psalms, doesn’t have any family information included, and is in very fragile condition. I just learned of it’s existence yesterday when my husband brought it home from his mother’s. I put the pages back into order with the exception of those that are in pieces. I will be purchasing a special archival box for it.
As I began to ponder the history of giving this book, I wondered what prompted her parents to give her this new Bible. It must have been significant. Was it to celebrate or console? I searched through all the known dates in Rebecca and her husband Frank’s lives but didn’t find anything that matched the date. I don’t know the month when they married, the year was 1872, nor do I know when their youngest child, Lewis, died.
As I thought about it more, I wondered if Lewis’ death may have been the prompt for the gift. But, we know very little about him or the events that lead to his death. In fact, in Rebecca’s son’s autobiographical stories he did not mention a brother. According to Thomas Newkirk’s book Rebecca and Frank had 3 children and in the 1900 census Rebecca indicated she had 3 children with 2 living. So, I presume that Lewis died at a very young age.
We know that by 1896 the family moved from Missouri with only two of their children. Granddaughter, Elizabeth Bullard’s, handwritten account says: “Mr. & Mrs. F.A. Garee, CEG and Elda May Garee came to Noble by covered wagon, buggy and horse. CEG on a pony driving a herd of work horses and mules in late spring 1896. (They sold the work stock along the way – such was scarse.) C.E.G. went back by rail and accompanied a box car load of furniture which he completed the “filling” by bringing apples from MO the fall of ’96. Of course, he made a nice profit on the apples for fruit was scarcer here (only a little more than 8 yrs after this part of Oklahoma opened by run). The F. A. Garee’s bought a home on the SE intersection of Walnut and 2nd and both died in the home.’
Rebecca brought the book with her to Oklahoma, it was in that covered wagon. Her husband, son, granddaughter, and great granddaughter have held onto it. What a clear testament that the family understands this present was important.
Ancestry.com. Genealogy and history of the Newkirk, Hamilton, and Bayless families [database on-line]. Provo, UT: The Generations Network, Inc., 2005. Original data: Newkirk, Thomas J.,. Genealogy and history of the Newkirk, Hamilton, and Bayless families. Evanston, Ill.: unknown, 1916.