By Edna Ward
Brother Joe Wilson recently went to a dumpster in Lee County. Placed on the ground outside the dumpster were a Bible and several family photos. A big rain had soaked the area the night before. Wilson carefully picked up the soggy treasure and took it home. He laid it out carefully on his dining room table hoping all of it would dry. He was sad that someone would discard something so important. Wilson is a member of Hephzibah Church. He said, “To see that Bible next to the dumpster just made my heart sad.”
He wondered how a descendant could be found who would respect this Bible and treasure it. His neighbor Cora Reames suggested he call Edna Ward who volunteers with the Genealogical Society of East Alabama.
Several years ago, Reames had been the recipient of a similar situation. A lady in Columbus, Ga. bought a box of books at an estate sale. Included among those books was the Fullerton Family Bible. A request to the Genealogical Society of East Alabama from the buyer was to find someone in the family so this Bible could be returned. One call to Opelika’s Bill Southers solved that problem. Southers knew Cora Reames’ maiden name was Fullerton. A call to Reames completed the circle. The Bible was returned to the family and it was indeed considered a treasure.
The Bible Wilson found posed a different problem. The family pages listed W. M. and Rhoda Woodall and eight children. W. M. Woodall lived from 1834 until 1890. Rhoda Woodall lived from 1839 to 1916. Checking available records for Lee County revealed no grave markers for these Woodalls. Next a search was made on FindAGrave.com, a database now owned and provided by Ancestry.com. W. M. and Rhoda Woodall were found at rest in the Milltown Cemetery in Chambers County, along with some of the children who were listed on the birth page of the Bible.
Don L. Clark had posted photos of the Woodall family grave markers along with their obituaries on FindAGrave. A contact to Clark was the key to finding a Woodall descendant. Clark located Charles Woodall in Birmingham. Charles is a descendant of W. M. Woodall’s brother. Mr. Woodall was very pleased to know about the family Bible and would indeed treasure it. Arrangements are being made to place this Bible with him.
Tucked inside the pages of the Woodall Bible was a sad and touching photo. It is faded and had been folded through the years. Glenn Buxton at the Museum of East Alabama scanned the aged photo and made the contrast clearer. There are four little girls shown as pallbearers for a child. When the photo was shared with Woodall, he said, “Oh how touching. I had not seen it before.”
With the style of the bows in the little girls’ hair, and the high collars on the men’s shirts, the photo was evidently taken circa 1900 and 1910. Woodall is reviewing his family research to determine who the deceased might be. Some of the Woodall grandchildren who died young fit the time line listed above.
Wilson is pleased the Bible will soon be in the hands of a Woodall family descendant and will be treasured. “It’s really a blessing,” he said.