Sunday, April 21, 2013

Samaritan Sunday (April 21, 2013)

[If you should choose to adopt this prompt to contribute stories of folks who have gone out of their way to  lend genealogy-related assistance to others, I would greatly appreciate a mention to Filiopietism Prism whenever you do so.  Thank you!  And please do use the same photograph above to illustrate the prompt and show it is adopted from this blog.  ;-) ]

The parable of the Good Samaritan is from the New Testament of the Bible in the gospel according to Luke, and, as almost everybody knows, it is about someone helping a stranger when no one else would.  The phrase "a Good Samaritan" has passed into our language to describe generally anyone who is willing to go out of his or her way to help a complete stranger.  [And I am sure our favorite genealogist lawyer, Judy G. Russell at The Legal Genealogist, would be able to tell us all about the Good Samaritan laws that exist in many states in the U.S. -- if she has not already done so in early posts of which I am not aware. ]  

Many charitable organizations and hospitals have used the idea and ideal of the Good Samaritan in naming their institutions.  Similarly, it is the idea and ideal of the Good Samaritan that provides the inspiration for naming this new blog prompt of mine after the parable about a stranger going out of his way to help another stranger.  In this instance, it is about folks in the genealogy community ( or those who simply recognize the value of genealogical items and/or information) who go out of their way to lend genealogy-related assistance to others they do not even really know. 

This first installment of "Samaritan Sunday" is dedicated to the Union County Fraternal Order of Police No. 171 in Ohio.  It is from a story I read earlier this year.

In December 2011, Tim Shier was the victim of a burglary at the shop building on his property in Marysville, Ohio.  In addition to his Ford-350 pickup, some cash and a gun safe he kept in his shop, he had his family's heirloom 300-year-old Bible stored there.  For some unknown reason, the thieves took the Bible!  The Bible was printed in 1706 and had been brought from Germany to America by Mr. Shier's ancestors.  The Bible contained seven generations of Shier family births, deaths and marriages.

After the four thieves were apprehended, a very understanding judge offered the possibility of more lenient incarceration if one of the thieves would trace down the location of the Bible so that it could be recovered for Mr. Shier and his family.  Sadly, all one of the thieves could offer was that the heirloom had been "tossed into a bin" -- indicating the thieves had taken something they had no interest in whatsoever.

Fast forward a year or so later and one of Mr. Shier's cousins, who must have an interest in genealogy, spotted reference to a very old German Bible on  It sounded from the description like it could be the Shier family Bible.  Detectives were contacted and the Bible's journey after being discarded into some bin began to be reconstructed.  It appears that the Bible somehow became a donation to Goodwill, who then sold it on line to raise funds for its work.  The trail then led to Louisiana and finally to Georgia where a couple claimed ownership of the Bible as the result of an innocent purchase for $405.  The couple did not want to be out over $400 for an innocent purchase they made and so they agreed to return the Bible to Tim Shier, but only if their purchase price was refunded in full.

The Union County Ohio Sheriff's Office had an understandable policy against buying back stolen property and so there the matter stood until Det. Mike Justice, President of the Union County Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 171, and his organization decided on what I am sure is just one of many "Samaritan moments" for them.  The members of the Union County FOP recognized that this family heirloom was more than an ephemeral piece of personal property that was just another mundane item of theft; this was 300 years of family history.  They reimbursed the Georgia couple and Mr. Shier's Bible was returned to him compliments of these Good Samaritans! 

There are many stories such as this one out there and I hope to post more of them periodically here at The Prism.  You can read the story of the Shier family Bible and the Good Samaritans of the Union County Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 171 here -- and you can see photographs of Tim Shier and his Bible.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Photograph of the The Good Samaritan sculpture by Francois-Leon Sicard (1862 - 1934).  The sculpture is located in the Tuileries Gardens in Paris, France.  The photograph is by Marie-Lan Nguyen and has been placed in the public domain by her. See, 
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ 

Copyright 2013, John D. Tew
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

No comments:

Post a Comment