1839, Elizabethtown, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania Susannah Leader has just received a new Bible. The Bible is small, leather covered and written in German. Whether she purchased it herself or it is a gift is unknown, but what is known is that Susannah is illiterate and why she has a Bible is a mystery. She can't read it. She had at least six grandchildren by now, and widowhood has either found her or is very near.
By 1850 Susannah had married again. Susannah and her new husband, George Kehler, moved from Elizabethtown to Londonberry Township further north. George and Susannah may have met in Church, for they both attended the same Church in Elizabethtown. Their children by previous marriages had been christened there. George's first wife, Anna, and an infant were buried from there, and George and Susannah were married there on January 30, 1844.
. . . . Fast forward almost 150 years. The year is 1990 and Susannah's great great great grandson has just passed away. A box containing family heirlooms is passed on to his daughter and in it is Susannah's Bible.
Sorting through old photographs, newspaper clippings and various mementos, I came across Susannah's Bible. As I held it, I wondered who Susannah was. I knew she had to have been related otherwise the Bible would not have been saved all these many years. The leather, by this time, was powdery in spots, the binding in bad need of repair. Some of the pages were stuck together, and the writing in the inside of the Bible fading. Just the same, the clues were furnished. As I held this musty Bible, feeling the rough leather, I knew I had something to do! This Bible beckoned to me! A genealogical venture had begun!
In September of 1997, my husband and I planned a trip to Pennsylvania from California to do a litttle "on site" research. I would visit Historical Societies, Libraries and Cemeteries, he would either find Ice Cream Shops or nap in the car. The plan worked well for both of us.
Harrisburg ~ the final day of our trip. A pile of notes from various Libraries had been accumulated and five rolls of film had been taken of headstones, family homes and third cousins we had met. We were packed and ready to leave. Why not one more cemetery? With nothing else on the agenda we headed for the Harrisburg Cemetery.
Harrisburg Cemetery sits in the middle of the city, Pennsylvania's Capitol. It is now a historical monument and takes up an entire city block, although at one time it was on the outskirts of town. One of the main thoroughfares in the city is a block away and slums are now it's next door neighbor. As we enter the cemetery we are awed by the surroundings. Monuments dwarf buildings, trees dwarf monuments and just about everything dwarfs us! There are headstones older than most of the city.
Thinking that the stone building inside of the gate is the office, I decide to see if there was anybody who could answer a question. Much to my chagrin, it is locked. With nothing but time on our hands, we decide to drive through the cemetery anyway. As the breeze whistled thru the trees, we could hear the traffic noise in the background and sounds neighborhoods make in the middle of the day. We imagined what it would have sounded like a century or two before, when the trees were seedlings and the horses and buggys brought the present occupants to their final resting place. Would it have been as awe-inspiring?
As we crept along we spotted a maintenance worker mowing the lawn in the distance and decided to see if he had any informantion on the office hours. My husband turned down the row he was mowing, and I gazed at the headstones as we passed. Suddenly, I thought I was seeing things! "Stop!! Back up!!" The car lurched to a stop; I stumbled out, and ran towards, yes! My great-great grandparents headstone! Was I directed to this spot by a watchful, caring ancestor?
While Jim set up the camera to take another picture of another headstone, I wander, reading neighboring headstones. NO! It couldn't be! but it was! Just down from my great-great grandparent's are her parents! Although I've had their names, I never had their birth or death dates! They must have guided me to this spot! Just as I was recovering from this discovery, I saw an even older headstone, the letters worn, and the grass grown over most of them. I saw "annah" and thought there was perhaps a Hannah buried there. Pulling back the weeds, my heart started beating as though it was coming out of my chest and I started gasping! SUSANNAH KAYLOR!!! Seven years of searching, and I stumble upon her grave! I get goosebumps as I type this! Now I know ~ it was Susannah who guided me there!
I will forever feed a special closeness to Susannah. Without her Bible, my genealogy passion would have never begun. Was this her way of thanking me for remembering her? I'll never know!
. . . . . . . . . . . . .and the search continues for more family!
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