By Sally Voth
The Strasburg Museum's newly acquired Bible has more than just divine tales to tell. The scorch marks that run through part of it bear the scars from a 250-year-old atrocity.
First Bank recently presented the museum with the 1739 German folio Bible, which was passed on to the bank for safekeeping in 1969.
The singed Bible was found in 1764 on a table in a house in Oranda, museum President Gloria Stickley said. She said it belonged to the Miller family, four of whom were killed by a group of American Indians and a white man who exhorted the Indians to attack them.
A live coal was put on top of the Bible in an attempt to burn down the Miller cabin, according to Stickley. A killed cat was then thrown on top of the bible, smothering any flames, although 14 pages were damaged.
The Miller's surviving daughter, who wasn't seen by the marauders, ran to what is now known as Harmony Hall, according to Stickley. Those neighbors found the Bible in the home.
The Millers' descendant, John Miller, turned over the Bible to the bank in 1969.
"The Bible was originally donated to the bank for safekeeping," Doug Arthur, chairman of the board at First Bank, said. "It has a vault. And, there was no museum. There was talk of the museum at that time, but it wasn't in existence."
He said John Miller was childless.
In the front cover of the large Bible, there is a handwritten account of the burning. That writing is dated 1880.
For a few years, the Bible was displayed in the bank lobby, Stickley said. Once the museum was up and running, it was displayed there seasonally, Arthur said.
"So, now it's just a matter of sealing the deal," he said.
Visitors to the museum, which opened in 1970, were always told the bank owned the bible, Stickley said.
She said the Smithsonian Institution had at one point expressed interest in the holy book.
"We're blessed that they didn't let it go," she said.
Arthur said the bank is willing to continue to store the Bible during the museum's off-season. He said the hand-over came at the behest of Stickley.
"Gloria...got to talking with me one day and said, 'You know, it would really be nice if the bank donated that Bible to the museum and formalized what was always intended,'" Arthur said. "She and I go back far enough to remember vividly when the Bible was given, and I thought this was a super idea."
The Bible was presented to the museum at its annual dinner meeting April 19.
"It's nice to be able to add this to our inventory," Stickley said. "I'm extremely delighted that the bank was willing to agree to that."
Contact staff writer Sally Voth at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or firstname.lastname@example.org