A Bible believed to be about 100 years old has come home to Horry County, where Horry heritage buffs say it belongs.
“I’m telling you when Ronnie (Roach) gave Jamie Fay (Black) that Bible there were probably about 30 people…that saw that happen and I don’t think there was a dry eye in the group. It was just that moving,” said Shirley Johnson with the Horry County Historical Society whose Stories in Stone event played a key role in the Bible’s return.
The Bible, which belonged to Samuel Sarvis Jr., son of Confederate soldier Samuel Sarvis Sr., who was a member of Co. A, 26th S.C. Regiment, will eventually be placed on display in the Sarvis House, which has been renovated through the efforts of the Socastee Heritage Foundation.
The house is ready, but foundation secretary Amy Weaver says the group still needs money to buy proper display cases to hold the Bible and some other items they’ve been receiving for the house.
Some of the people following the Bible’s serendipitous return believe its owner was probably born in the Sarvis house.
They believe Samuel Jr. was the original owner of the Bible because his marriage to Mary Cooper, exactly 100 years ago, is the first entry in the Bible, which contains a lengthy list of births, deaths and marriages within the Sarvis family.
“It’s perfect timing with us being able to purchase the house this year, and then all of a sudden something like this showing up is a pretty amazing thing, so we’re excited to have it,” Weaver said.
The amazing part of this story, which actually started close to three years ago, is how the Bible got back into the hands of the Sarvis family.
The story began in Burlington, N.C., when Sherry Graves went to her local Goodwill store and saw an old Bible that caught her interest.
“It was just beautiful. I don’t know what attracted me to it,” Graves said. “It was just a beautiful Bible. I thumbed through it and I saw the letter in it.”
The letter appeared to her to be a memoir of a Confederate soldier. It was the letter that caused her to plop down $2 to buy the old Bible.
Graves works with Harry Ferguson, a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. After she had the Bible for a while, Graves took it to Ferguson just to let him see it.
He took it to a meeting of the Col. Charles F. Fisher SCV Camp 813 in Graham, N.C., and shared it with the other heritage-focused men there.
When Ferguson took the Bible back to Graves, she suggested he keep it. He offered her $1 for it, and she gladly accepted his offer.
Ferguson turned the Bible over to a member of his family, who agreed to take it to an antique bookstore to see if it had any monetary value.
An antique dealer assured her it didn’t, but he was interested in the letter so he began to research the information in the Bible to learn more about Samuel Sarvis.
Through a computer search, he located a story in an Independent Republic Quarterly, the newsletter of the Horry County Historical Society. The story was entitled, Reminiscences of a Confederate Officer by Capt. Samuel S. Sarvis.
Now knowing that the Bible had ties to Horry County, Ferguson thought of his friend Ronnie Roach, who grew up in Conway and works now with the SCV as the Army of Northern Virginia heritage coordinator, chief of staff for the N.C. Division and adjutant for the Col. Charles F. Fisher SCV Camp 813 in Graham.
Ferguson showed the Bible to Roach, who picked up immediately on the Sarvis name because he was busy practicing to portray Capt. Moses F. Sarvis in the Horry County Historical Society’s second Stories in Stone event in April. Moses Sarvis, also a Confederate soldier, was a member of the Co. G, 10th S.C. Regiment.
“Unbelievable” was Roach’s first thought when he saw the Independent Republic Quarterly story folded inside the Bible.
He guessed immediately that Moses and Samuel might have been related, so when he went to his next practice for Stories in Stone, he asked Shirley Johnson if she knew anything about Samuel Sarvis or his descendants.
Unbelievable again! Johnson pointed to Jamie Black, who was also taking part in Stories in Stone and informed Roach that she is a Sarvis descendant; however, she is descended from Moses Sarvis.
On top of that, the group was standing just a stone’s throw away from the graves of both men in Hebron Cemetery.
The family information inside the Bible caused Roach to call it “a genealogist’s dream come true.”
Roach, who lives now in Mebane, N.C., got the Bible from Ferguson at their next SCV meeting, brought it to Conway with him when he came for Stories in Stone and presented it to Mrs. Black in the Hebron Cemetery in what he calls an “emotionally-filled ceremony.”
Because she is not a direct descendant of Samuel Sarvis, Mrs. Black decided to give the Bible to the Socastee Heritage Foundation to put in the Sarvis house.
Samuel Sarvis was her great-grandfather’s brother.
She says this King James version of the Bible was printed by the Southwestern Company in Nashville, Tenn., but the page that might show the year it was printed seems to be missing.
The Bible, which measures 9.5-inches by 12.25-inches and is 2.5-inches deep, shows some wear, but is a great Bible with lots of beautiful pictures.
It also has lots of added information, along with the Scriptures, including a list of all the animals in the Bible, a list of all the books in the Bible including all of the important things that happen in each book, a list of everybody in the Bible and a short explanation about their importance.
There are also stories rewritten for children.
“It’s just a great book. It really is,” Mrs. Black said, adding “I wish I had one that my great-granddaddy had like this.”
Because the first entry in the Bible is Sarvis Jr.’s marriage, she believes the Bible might have been a wedding present.
She is pleased now that the Bible is headed back home to Socastee.
“I was excited when I read about the house because I remember going there as a little child,” Mrs. Black said. “I’m happy that it’s going to go to the house…I think it’s a wonderful thing that they’re doing.”
Roach says getting the Bible back where it belongs is what the SCV is all about.
“Call it what you may, Divine Providence, coincidence, luck, etc., but the facts remain that there are people in this world that really believe in history, heritage and the perpetuation of families,” he said.
Roach explains that there’s a difference in history, which he describes as the past that’s been recorded, and heritage, which is passed down through generations through diaries, journals and letters.
“You can’t buy heritage; it just comes with your life,” Mrs. Black said.