Thursday, July 2, 2009

A Lamp Unto My Feet

Psalm 119 says, "Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path." This has certainly been the case with the Jenner Family Bible!

A few months after we completed my daughter's school genealogy project, my Uncle Bob came across my grandmother's old family Bible (from the Jenner side of the family) in the back of one of his closets. So, knowing my daughter and I were still working on our family's history, he packed it up with a lot of other old documents and photographs and mailed it to me. It provided our first significant breakthrough in our search for our immigrant ancestors. In the back of the Bible was a section in which births, marriages, and deaths were recorded for several generations of Jenners -- most of them in florid handwriting that was difficult to decipher. Dates of birth were listed for Almond Lewis Jenner (1863), his father, Moses German Jenner (1833), his grandfather, Moses Johnson Jenner (1799), his great-grandfather, Timothy Jenner (1775), and his great-great-grandfather, Stephen Jenner (1749). Following this list was the statement: "Stephen was the son of Samuel and his father Samuel was born on the pasage [sic] to America."

I immediately emailed my daughter with the news! We had learned that at least one branch of our family had immigrated to America before it was an independent nation! I can't honestly say that my daughter was as deeply affected as I was, but for me this was a life-changing revelation. It meant that one branch of our family dated back to colonial times and that, at least to some degree, had participated in the founding of our nation!

This inscription also identified -- at long last -- our immigrant Jenner ancestor: Samuel Jenner! However, it would be several more months before I truly understood which Samuel Jenner was being described in my grandmother's Bible. I was soon to learn that there were many Samuel Jenners in the colonial history of the United States, and how tedious it would be trying to sort through the vast storehouses of information and misinformation to identify the right one.

And little did I know then, how literally my grandmother's Bible would become a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path as I continued my ancestral search!

In the weeks and months to come, the listings in my grandmother's Bible would frequently light the path through the assorted Stephen and Samuel, and Timothy Jenners to determine which were my ancestors and which were members of other branches of the Jenner family. And eventually, when I began traveling in search of the burial sites and ancestral homes of my forebears, that Bible literally guided my footsteps to the right people and locations!

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