Saving the Family Bible

The Bible that was the lone possession that Philena Lloyd's father rescued from the fire.  It had special meaning on several levels:  as an object of great financial and spiritual value, as a symbol of his marriage, and as a connection to his family's life in the pre-fire city.

This Fletcher Bible was the first expensive piece of household needs my parents bought, when they came here from Holowell, Maine, a newly-wed couple in 1855 or 56. It was regarded as a family necessity as well as a life-time investment and cost I think $45.00.

At the same time of the Chicago Fire, we lived in a new, two-story and basement, frame house, midway between Dearborn and Clark Streets, facing north, one lot east of the little alley there. Its number then was 242 Erie Street.

The night of the fire, after disposing of his family, in different conveyances to wend their way north beyond the flames, my father then was the last on the premises.

He made a final and hurried look to determine a choice of the most valuable thing to be saved and decided on this Fletcher Bible. Taking off his coat, he wrapped it securely in it.

On entering the barn to mount his horse he found the barn in flames and even the fet locks of his horse, and the alley blocked. He threshed out the burning fet locks, led his horse by blinding his eyes with his hat, passed the narrow side yard between our house and our neighbors on the west both burning[,] mounted his horse with this heavy Bible under one arm, went through the gate, and got out to the jostling crowded throng of people on Clark St.

The Bible was the only piece of household belongings saved. It has been a pride to the family[,] reverently opened and sacredly cared for. It has really never been used--we being a family of many Bibles....

My father was Joseph Penny Maxwell, born in the small town of Wells Main, which is now Ogunquit.

My mother was Sarah Jane Thomas, 2nd daughter of Robert Thomas of Waterville, Maine.

My father's antecedents came from Scotland in the 17th century and the Penny branch from England n 1632.

And my mother's antecedents came from Wales and England not far from that date.