Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Rev. Westfall's Gutsy Move

The Stockbridge Bible Series, Part 11

A photo of the Stockbridge Bible and the communion set that was long associated with it. This photo was taken in 1929-1930, while the relics were being kept at the First National Bank of Shawano. The Wisconsin State Historical Society claims ownership of this and five other black-and-white photos of the Bible.

In my last post, I introduced the evidence of how the two-volume Stockbridge Bible went from the home of Jameson "Sote" Quinney to a steel safe on the altar of the John Sergeant Memorial Church. Furthermore, I established that it was done by 1917, years before Rev. Fred Westfall came into the picture. So Westfall cannot be blamed for taking the Stockbridge Bible, right?

Well, not necessarily.

While members of the Stockbridge-Munsee Historical Committee presented the possession of the Stockbridge Bible as going from Sote Quinney to the church and then on to Mabel Choate in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, I came up with a different conclusion. In my version, the Bible goes from Sote Quinney's house to the safe in the church and remains there for several years, then it comes back to the Quinney home, before being sold to Mabel Choate.

Furthermore - and this again is something different from what was talked about at the meeting of the Stockbridge-Munsee Historical Committee that I attended - The Bible was kept at the First National Bank of Shawano for a period of time before Mabel Choate took possession of it.

Here's what happened with the Stockbridge Bible according to the paper I wrote that was published in the Spring, 2007 issue of The Book Collector:

When Sote Quinney died on March 22, 1929, the Stockbridge Bible was still at his house. A few weeks later, Rev. Fred Westfall heard a rumor that some kind of a dealer was 'out canvassing the Indians' so he went into the Quinney house while two relatives, but not the widow, Ella Quinney, were present, and took the two volumes, claiming them for the church.

How do I know that Rev. Wesfall took the once-revered Stockbridge Bible from the Quinney home? Westfall thought that he was doing the right thing so he told Mabel Choate's employee, Ruth Gaines, about it in a January 31, 1930 letter.

No comments :