The Story of “Grandmother’s Bible”

Also Now Known as "The John>John & Susan (PIERCE) OLIN Bible and The OLIN Family Society Bible".

Part I: The Chain of Ownership
By Mike Fisch

John Olin and Susan Pierce Bible

Based on the insert pinned in the bible we know the following timeline of who held this bible:

Bible was printed in Edinburgh, Scotland 1729 was held in the possession of Mrs. Roxana Olin Harwood from about the year 1838 down to the time of her death in 1893. It was a gift from her grandmother, Anna Reynolds Olin, wife of Giles Olin son of John Olin whose name stands at the head of the record in this old relic known as Grandmother’s Bible (Anna Reynolds died in February 1838 in Bennington, Vermont).

The transfer was made in Shaftsbury, Vermont at the home of Mrs. Harwood with whom her grandmother was then living.

H. O. Harwood

Two hundred and thirty years old when acquired by me, September 1959. Julie Snow, niece of Walton C. Harwood, last of family.”

The date the bible was printed does not tell us anything about where the Olin’s purchased the bible. I would not assume that they brought it across the Atlantic since these type of bibles were readily available for purchase in the colonies.

Who possessed the bible over the years:

  1. John Olin II and Susannah Pierce
  2. Giles Olin Jr and Anna Reynolds
  3. James Olin and Sarah Ellis
  4. James F Harwood and Roxana Olin
  5. Henry Olin Harwood
  6. George Hibbard Harwood and Caroline Walton
  7. Olin Walton Harwood and Emma Cartright
  8. Walton Cartright Harwood (Last of the Harwood line) and Alice L. Morrissey
  9. Julie Snow

There is a reference above in the pinned note to the death of Walton C. Harwood ( the last direct descendent to hold the bible) died 13 July 1958. Julie Snow became the steward of the Olin Bible when her aunt Alice Morrissey Harwood gave her the bible in 1959. This is where the journey of the bible gets a little murky.

Julie Snow is the niece of Alice Morrissey Harwood. Julie was the daughter of Helen E. Morrissey Snow, Alice’s sister. Since Walton and Alice Harwood did not have children the bible jumped out of the direct Olin line and Julie Snow held it we believe until her death.

Julie Snow was born in Bennington, Vermont 23 June 1937 and died 16 August 2000 in Burlington, Vermont. Julie was living at the time of her death in Granville, New York which is on the western side of Lake Champlain from Burlington.

I talked to the Mortuary that handled Julie’s funeral and they told me there were no family members present at the burial in Burlington. The funeral was paid for by a Trust set up by Julie’s mother on her behalf.

In talking to Julie’s cousin Vermont State Representative Mary J Morrissey, who lives in Bennington and is about the same age as Julie was she knew very little about Julie’s final years. She said that Julie was a loner and somewhat of an outcast from the family. She was an artist and moved about a lot and did not interact with family members much at all. In fact the family was not aware of her death until a few weeks after her death.

She believe Julie’s belongings were in the house in Granville, NY at the time of her death and she thinks that much of what she owned may have been disbursed among other tenants of the same house. Rep. Morrissey knew that her late brother had handled some affairs for Julie’s Trust which paid for her funeral, but knew little else of the disposition of any of her belongings.

She had never heard of the bible and was fascinated by this story.

So we can only assume that after Julie’s death someone outside the Morrissey/Snow family came into possession of the Olin Bible. We do know that in December 2004 someone tried to sell it on eBay.

In checking with eBay last year they were not able to tell us when, where or who listed it and could not tell us whether is it was sold due to their privacy policies. I had actually seen a reference to this eBay listing in a genealogy blog about two years ago and mentioned it to Jeffrey Olin and captured the photos of the family listing and the pinned note at that time. That’s how I knew it existed.

At this point we assume that the bible was either sold on eBay or it was put in a box and stored in a storage unit somewhere, where it may have languished. We understand that the niece of the people who we purchased the bible from acquired it in a storage locker auction sale of an abandoned storage unit. It’s unclear where exactly this unit was but we have reports of both Lancaster, California and possibly Tennessee, both places their niece had previously lived.

In August of 2016 Jeffrey Olin received an inquiry through our Family page inquiring whether we would be interested in purchasing the bible. The owner was the aunt of the woman who had purchased the bible in the storage unit auction. She knew her aunt was interested in such things and they had gotten it from her and held it for some time.

I will let Jeffrey tell the rest of the story since he’s the first person to have held the old "Grandmother's Bible" in many years.

(See Part II: How We Came Into Possession")

[Juliana Snow was the daughter of Charles Emory Snow and Helen Elizabeth Morrissey.]

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