19th century Bible donated to REACH Literacy to be reunited with family

Local News

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — A 19th-century book could give a family more answers about their ancestry.

It all started about a month and a half ago when a Sioux Falls non-profit got a donation.

REACH Literacy operates a used bookstore.

This year, the non-profit is on track to receive about 150,000 donated books.

As you can imagine, the organization gets just about any type of book you can think of, including Bibles.

While the non-profit has received Bibles before, this one stood out.

When REACH Literacy received the big, old Bible, it garnered some intrigue.

“It’s really interesting to look at and really pretty,” REACH Literacy executive director Paige Carda said.

But it’s what was inside the pages of this book that really caught the organization’s attention.

“When we found the marriage certificate and some names in there we were like, ‘Maybe this actually has some relatives that might be interested,” Carda said.

Marriage certificate found inside Bible donated to REACH Literacy in Sioux Falls.

Using a genealogy website, a REACH Literacy board member connected with a relative of the couple named on the marriage document dating back to the 1800s.

That couple? Michelle Smith-Young’s great-great grandparents, Moses and Eliza.

“I was totally shocked because it is one of the ancestors I’ve been looking for and trying to find information on since the very beginning of me doing family research,” Smith-Young said.

The Missouri woman says her great-great grandparents lived in Iowa for much of their lives.

This Bible could hold some important answers for Smith-Young, who has long been curious about her family history.

“This is huge for our family,” Smith-Young said.

“The opportunity to be able to give kind of a piece of history back to them is amazing,” Carda said.

REACH will send the fragile family heirloom to Smith-Young, opening another chapter in this Bible’s journey.

Smith-Young says some of her ancestors found themselves in Iowa after emancipation.

She says her great-great grandmother’s parents were enslaved, and she believes her great-great grandfather’s parents could’ve been as well.

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