Here at Tools with a Mission, we receive all sorts of fascinating objects along with our tool donations. Some people find a box in their garage full of odds and ends, not really knowing exactly what's in it.
We've found so many interesting items which all have their own unique stories; some of these stories are impossible to know and can only be left to the imagination, but a very small amount of items come with stories that tie them to people and places throughout time.
One of these items is an old Bible that came in with one of our tool deliveries. The worn cover immediately catches your eye, and the comforting smell of old paper pulls you in, encouraging you to dig deeper into its pages. As you open the book, you see the faded brown ink of a handwritten message:
"The teachers of the Wesleyan Sunday School present this Bible to John Baimbridge, hoping that he will read it with attention and prayer, treasure up its truths in his heart and live in obedience to its directions. Thornton - June 21, 1891"
The Bible must have been a treasured gift because what follows is a list of every birth in the family. The variety of different handwriting styles suggests that it was handed down through the generations. It even reveals that the family name somehow evolved from Baimbridge to Bainbridge in the early 1900s. This Bible is a true family heirloom.
On the last page, we see a very poignant final entry:
"Albert Edward, February 1st 1918.
-Died Oct. 14th 1944
Killed in Action."
It is the only death mentioned in the long list of births, and with this, the book drifted away from the family who had held it so dear.
Paul White, one of our volunteers at TWAM, was moved by the book's story and took it upon himself to reunite it with the Bainbridge family.
Paul also assists us by collecting old buttons, coins, military medals, and other militaria, so he was the perfect person to dig into the backstory and find out where it belongs.
Paul's experience volunteering with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission gave him the resources he needed to find the late Albert Edward's grave. Some further research on Ancestry led to him getting into contact with Yvette Shankster, the daughter-in-law of Albert's niece, Jan.
The family were amazed when they found out about the treasured heirloom. Yvette gave us a generous donation as a thank you, which we are incredibly grateful for. The family were also previously unaware of the location of Albert's grave, which they will now be able to visit.
When they received the Bible, they told us: "As a family, we are so happy and grateful to have this family Bible come back into our hands. It is part of our family history and also has a detailed family tree written in it by one of our ancestors. It's a wonderful feeling holding the Bible that goes back 5 generations! Thank you to Paul and the team at TWAM for taking the time and effort to track us down and return such a precious family Bible! Thanks from the Shanksters (née Bainbridge)"
The picture on the left shows three generations holding their family Bible. From left to right: Jan, Simon, and Amelia - granddaughter, great-grandson, and great-great-granddaughter of John Baimbridge.
It's not every day that we get to find the story behind the items that we receive, but it's so gratifying when we do. Many would have just given the Bible to a charity shop, and its story would have ended there, but we're so pleased that we could reunite it with the Shankster/Bainbridge family where they can pass it down for years to come.