Sunday, July 5, 2009

Photographic Evidence in the Story of the Stockbridge Bible

This is part 10 of an ongoing series about the Stockbridge Bible

In the fall of 2003, the staff of the Stockbridge Mohicans' Museum gave me a digital copy of this photo which depicts Rev. Charles Kilpatrick (standing), William Dick (the last person to fluently speak the Mohican language), and the infamous "steel safe" where the Stockbridge Bible was kept.

If you have read my post of June 22, you'll remember that Rev. Fred Westfall was regarded as the villain responsible for sending the two-volume tribal Bible back to Massachusetts in 1930. Part of what made Rev. Westfall such a villain - as members of the Stockbridge-Munsee Historical Committee saw it - was that he took the Bible from the Quinney family and put it in the safe on the altar of the John Sergeant Memorial Church before selling it to Mabel Choate of Stockbridge, Massachusetts.

However, the photo you see above clearly proved that it wasn't Rev. Westfall's idea to purchase a safe. Rev. Kilpatrick's last year of ministering to the Stockbridge Mohicans was 1917, and Rev. Westfall didn't come into the picture until a few years later.

In the tribe's museum, I found a letter written by Viola Jacobs Knight in 1978 which explained how the Stockbridge Bible moved from the house of Jamison "Sote" Quinney to the safe in the John Sergeant Memorial Presbyterian Church (where Sote Quinney served as an elder). Ms. Jacobs wrote that when Quinney got older he asked around to see if any member of the tribe was interested in keeping the two historic volumes in their homes and after he realized that nobody would take him up on the offer, he agreed to keep them "in a steel safe" on the altar of the church.

I was getting closer, but I still didn't have all the answers.

No comments :