Family Bibles have long been used to record births, marriages and deaths of family members. Arene J. (Leggins, Babb) Gorton’s Family Bible is no different. The book was retrieved by one of her descendants while cleaning out her father’s house after his death.
Before I get into the details of what this amazing find revealed, let me bring you up to speed on her family unit:
Arene Jay Leggins (spellings vary widely) was born 22 May 1866 in Indiana, USA to Louis & Sarah Liggins. She married first Thomas Van Meter Babb (1-2-3-1-3-3-10), who I previously wrote an article about in 2017 (Will the real Thomas Babb, please stand up? – Babb Unabridged). Their marriage was on 17 January, 1882 and after having a number of children (5 or 6 depending on how you count) they divorced and she married 2nd Nathan C. Gorton.
I can for the first time write the previous paragraph with some level of certainty because she received a Bible while married to Nathan and started keeping birth and marriage records in it. Those records cleared up a variety of issues for us. Unlike all the other records available, this was in her own handwriting and we are able to see how she spelled her complicated name. It also cleared up a mystery about Nathan’s proper surname, spelled in some documents as Garton, we were able to correct it to Gorton.
Most of the birth dates and full names of her children were unknown. It even contained record of a previously unknown youngest child, Catherine M. Babb (b. 14 Jan 1895). Catherine would be the last of the children she bore with Thomas Van Meter Babb and within 2 years she and Nathan had tied the knot. Arene and Nathan had no offspring, but he continued to raise the Babb children as his own including Franklin Cleveland Babb who was later adopted and became Raymond McKee before being brought back into the fold by the Babb/Gorton family. It is speculated that he is Arene’s child with someone else beyond Thomas Van Meter Babb. See the linked article above for the full story on this one.
Arene clearly passed the Family Bible on to her first born Harriett “Hattie” Eliza Babb who married Daniel Joyness III and later Irvin Wolf (another previously unknown relationship). Daniel & Irvin died within days of each other during WWII in 1943. I see no service record for either of them but Daniel would have been 62 at the time and not enough is known about Irvin to estimate his age.
I’ll end this post with a plea that anyone who has in their possession a Babb Family Bible that predates the 20th Century, please reach out to me directly. I’ll ask for a digital copy and can explain how to preserve it from deterioration.