Sunday, June 23, 2013

Samaritan Sunday (June 23, 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 below to illustrate the prompt and to show it is adopted from this blog.  ;-) ]

Neysa Carpenter Garrett is my 4th cousin.  Joseph Carpenter (1789 - 1880) and his wife, Nancy Carpenter nee Bullock (1793 - 1880), are our common 3X great grandparents. I descend from Joseph and Nancy's son, Samuel Carpenter, and Neysa descends from their son, George Moulton Carpenter.  

Neysa and I met through a quest to locate a Carpenter family bible that was last known to be in the possession of my grandfather in June 1929; but my grandfather and his mother decided that it "would be honorable and just to give the Family Bible to the eldest son of Edmund J. Carpenter -- a brother of George M. Carpenter."  Edmund Janes Carpenter is Neysa's great grandfather and Edmund had three sons.  Through our mutual interest in Carpenter family genealogy, and Neysa's indefatigable efforts and detective skills, the very Carpenter Family Bible that had gone missing some 80 years earlier was found the summer of 2009. [1]  But this was not Neysa's only experience with a lost bible.  In 2009 Neysa also played the central role in a Good Samaritan moment involving another family's lost bible.

Neysa's cousin is the present owner of a historic home that sits on a lovely 33-acre property located in the unincorporated village of Upper Black Eddy, Bucks County, Pennsylvania (45 miles north of Philadelphia).  The property belonged to Neysa's maternal grandparents and before that it belonged to the Pursell-Gwinner family.  The land was originally deeded by William Penn to a John Chapman.  The original section of the home that sits on the property was built before the American Revolution and since that time it has been owned by only two families -- the Pursells until 1929 and Neysa's grandparents and their descendants since then.

The Pursell homestead in Upper Black Eddy circa 1870.  [Brice M. Pursell and his wife, Martha Poor Pursell standing outside the fence.  Their niece, Ollie Poor Bachman standing inside the fence.]

On a suffocatingly hot June afternoon in 2009, Neysa was rummaging through the attic of her cousin's home looking for photographs of deceased family members.  She suddenly spotted a large old book that  looked like it had been tucked up under the eaves.  Carefully retrieving the book, Neysa brought it out into some light streaming in through a window.  She expected the writing in the book to be in Danish, the language of her maternal grandparents, but was surprised to find that the book was in fact a King James bible with center pages clearly about the Pursell-Gwinner family -- and in particular about the fourth occupants of the Upper Black Eddy home.

Neysa knew that there were members of the Pursell family buried in a small, stonewalled graveyard on her grandparents'/cousin's property, and she knew there were some Purcells still in the Upper Black Eddy area, but none of the local, living Purcells seemed to be descendants of the Pursell family that once owned the subject property.  

If possible, Neysa wanted to find current Pursell-Gwinner family members that would cherish and preserve the bible.  When she spoke to her cousin about this desire, he mentioned that a Connecticut couple had unexpectedly dropped by a year or so earlier to ask permission to see and photograph the home that the wife's ancestors had once owned.  She was working on a genealogy of her family.  Since her cousin still had the name and address of the couple, he wrote them  and explained about the discovery of the family bible.  The couple replied and arranged to stop by the farm on their return from a vacation.  They stopped by for tea and left with a long-lost family bible -- and a Good Samaritan story to insert into the family genealogy.

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[1]  Neysa and I have collaborated on an article detailing our Carpenter family bible quest.  It might be the subject of a future post here at The Prism if we do not find a publisher for it elsewhere.

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,

Photograph of the Pursell Homestead provided by Neysa Garrett from a History of Bucks County.

Thank you to Neysa for telling me about this other bible story -- and for allowing me to use it as part of Samaritan Sunday on The Prism!
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Copyright 2013, John D. Tew
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1 comment:

  1. I am a descendant of the Pursell's that once owned this homestead. I was so happy to find a picture of the house. Thank you for posting. I visited the Pursell burial ground were my 4th and 5th Great-Grandafther's were buried this past weekend. Because of the picture of the home and talking to a neighbor near the burial ground we were also able to locate the Pursell homestead. This story was much appreciated.