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Lardner Family Bible

Updated 07 April 2006

Introduction | Family Record | Other Items in the Bible

*Note:  All thumbnails can be clicked to see larger images






Several years ago, I got a call from a man who said he had a Lardner family bible.  He wasn't a Lardner, so it hadn't been passed down to him; frankly, I was never completely clear about how it came into his possession.  At any rate, he contacted me, knowing that Ring Lardner was a Lardner and that I was a collector of Ring Lardner.  He wanted me to buy it.  If fact he called it the Ring Lardner Family Bible.  That it wasn't.   

A beautiful piece of family history, it was.  So even though it didn't have any direct relationship to Ring Lardner, I felt the need to have it, to protect it from further harm, to give it a voice.  Mostly, I just felt the sick completest collector compulsion to have it.

The bible itself, as the photos above amply demonstrate, has seen better days.  The front cover is disconnected, its pages are water damaged and mildewed, and it has the general appearance of something which has spent the last hundred years as a cat perch or a bicycle ramp.  No reverence has been shown the bible--yet it exists, which is reason enough to cherish it.

The bible was more than likely a wedding gift to William Lardner and Julia Lewis from family in Philadelphia (where all of the Lardners lived prior to coming to Niles).  William Lardner is the cousin of Henry Lardner, Ring's grandfather.  Both William and Henry moved to Niles, Michigan, Ring's hometown, in the 1830s, where they ran a mill and various other enterprises. 

The bible was published in Philadelphia.

Between the old and new testaments are the family records, written in various hands.  The earliest entry is the marriage of William Lardner and Julia Lewis in 1841; the last entry is the death of Lucy Lewis in 1917.  After the death of William and Julia, it is hard to determine to whom the bible was passed.    

There are two interesting and valuable items in the bible (in addition to the holy words, of course):  first, the handwritten records in its center; and second, the various documents tucked into its pages over the years.  Unlike the bible itself, the ephemeral items sheltered within its pages were preserved fairly well.  Included in those are various religious tracts and pamphlets and newspaper clippings, mostly obituaries of family members and friends. 

The primary value is to the families of those mentioned in the documents, though the secondary historical value to a much wider audience cannot be ignored.  The bible gives a very personal glimpse into life of the mid to late 1800s.  The hardships faced by a family--even one with wealth, like the Lardner family--is all too clear.  Illness leads to death, and children are most vulnerable.  They were a people surrounded by death and a people bolstered by their faith. 

The beauty of the words found in the old obituaries reveals the societal reverence for the dead.  The caring attitude of those left living is shown in many other ways.  The handwriting of the records is elegant.  Longer clippings were sewn together with thread.  Pencil tick marks were drawn to mark key passages.    The days of the lives of the dead were counted. 


The Family Record:



Marriages recorded are:
  • William Lardner and Julia Lewis, in Niles, in 1841
  • William Shepard Lardner to Mary Foster Jones, in Christ Church, Philadelphia, in 1872.
  • John Lardner to Savanah McMurray in Chicago, in 1901.

William Shepard and John are sons of William and Julia.  Though the list seems short, it is complete (for reasons that will become clear when looking at the list of births and deaths).



Births recorded are:
  • Margaret Lardner, 1842, in Niles.
  • James Lardner, 1844, in Niles.
  • William Shepard Lardner, 1846, in Niles.
  • Frances Lardner, 1849, in Niles.
  • John Lardner, 1851, in Niles.
  • Margaret Lardner's confirmation is noted, 1858.
  • William S. Lardner's confirmation is noted, 1868.

On page two, one birth is added:

  • William Foster Lardner, 1873, in Philadelphia. 

All of the first page births are children of William and Julia.  William Foster Lardner, on the second page, is the son of William Shepard and Mary, grandson of William and Julia.


Deaths recorded are:
  • James Lardner, 1845, in Niles.
  • Margaret Lardner, 1854, in Niles.
  • Frances Lardner, 1854, in Niles.
  • William S. Lardner, 1905, in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin.
  • William Lardner, 1870, in Niles.
  • Julia Lardner, 1875, in Niles.
  • Lucy Lewis, 1917, in Niles.

Margaret and Frances died within five days of each other.  All are members of the immediate family.  Lucy Lewis is Julia's younger sister, who lived with them in Niles. 


  Ephemera within the pages of the Bible
Obituaries are first, followed by other documents.




A funeral announcement sign, about 8 x 10 inches for the funeral of Julia A. Lardner, wife of William Lardner.  Julia died in 1875.    
Obituary written by Fanny Lacy (or Lacey) (as indicated by the initials at its close and the subsequent handwritten elaboration below it) for Miss Caroline Bacon, who died 2 October 1881.  She was a member of Trinity Church in Niles. 

After a religious flourish at the opening of the obituary, the personal information about her explains that she wasn't perfect, but she sought god's help.  Fanny Lacy's obituary can be found below.


Obituary for Mrs. Eloise Tiffany Josslyn, born 28 January 1816 and died 12 February 1895.  This one is also signed "F. L." for Fanny Lacy (or Lacey).  Josslyn came to Niles in the 1850s and was a member of the Trinity Church.  She is probably a family friend.




Three obituaries for General John Gibbon (1827-1896), hero of many battles and leader of the famous Iron Brigade.  The first obituary, the longest, is sewn together.

General Gibbon was the nephew of William Lardner.  Gen. Gibbon is one of the ten children of Dr. John Gibbon and Catherine (or Katherine) Lardner (31 March 1799 - 20 December 1874).  Two of Catherine's brothers moved to Niles:  William and Lynford.  There is another twist. 

Henry Lardner, Ring's grandfather, is Catherine's cousin, General Gibbon's second cousin.  One of Henry's brothers, Richard Penn Lardner, married General Gibbon's sister Anna--in other words, married the daughter of his cousin.  So Henry, and thus Ring, is related to General Gibbon in two different ways.

I'm sure there is a long and many hyphenated way to say it, but it is probably simpler to say that General Gibbon is Ring Lardner's grandfather's cousin's nephew. 

For more information on the career of Gen. Gibbon, visit the Arlington National Cemetery Site.  It offers a military biography and pictures of his grave marker.


Obituary for Mrs. Marion B. Mitchell Locher, sister of Mrs. W. B. (William Branson)  Lardner--the son of Lynford and Sarah Moore, nephew of William and Julia Lardner, and Ring's grandfather's second cousin.  Clipped from a California newspaper, this obituary is attached to the following obituary for Mrs. S. K. Lardner.


Obituary for Sarah K. (Moore) Lardner (1818-1899).  She was the wife of Lynford Lardner, sister-in-law to William, wife of the cousin of Ring Lardner's grandfather, Henry.  She and Lynford moved from Philadelphia to Niles, Michigan, and later moved to Iowa and to California.  Much of this branch of the Lardner family remained in California.  The obituary is attached to the obituary for Marion Locher, above.


Obituaries for Edmund Carrey and his wife, pinned together.  Edmund died in 1895, and Mrs. Carrey died in 1900.  Carrey was the former Consul General of France, and also a former Niles resident.  His wife was Lena (Phillips) Lardner's sister, Ring Lardner's aunt. 



Two obituaries for William Shepard Lardner (1846 - 1905).  William S. is the son of William and Julia Lewis Lardner, and was born in Niles.  He graduated from Philadelphia School of Pharmacy and moved to Oconomowoc, Wisconsin in 1870.  In 1872 he was married in Christ Church, Philadelphia, to Mary Foster Jones.  The couple lived in Niles and then Philadelphia, before returning to Oconomowoc, where he engaged in a number of business ventures.  His two sons were Dr. Lynford Lardner, whose son Lynford started the giant law firm Foley & Lardner, and W. Foster Lardner, the popular performer, often mistaken for Ring's brother (since the two were well known Lardners during the same period). 

As a tribute to this side of the family, Ring mentions Oconomowoc in the story "The Golden Honeymoon."


Obituary for Fanny Lacy (or Lacey), born 11 December 1836.  A notation in hand at the bottom of the clipping says "Lena," perhaps indicating that it was written by Lena Lardner, Ring's mother.  Given that possibility (along with the unusual style and content of the piece), I reproduce it below:

Miss Fanny Lacy Dead

Lady once of Brilliant Mind Died at Kalamazoo

Miss Fanny Lacy passed away last evening at Kalamazoo.  The remains will be brought to Niles this evening and taken to the home of Mrs. F. M. Pierson where the funeral services will be held Saturday afternoon at 2 o'clock.  Rev. George Huntington will conduct the services.  All of Miss Lacey's friends are invited to attend the service but are requested to omit flowers.


Fanny Lacey was born Dec. 11th, 1856, [corrected in pencil above to 1836] the daughter of Obed Pierpont Lacey and Lucy Pelletier, who were among the early settlers of Niles.  She inherited many of the traits of her Virginia father and her French mother making an unusual combination by which her character stands out as unique in her generation.  She possessed solid qualities with the lighter graces of life, and a love of companionship and genial conversation which only her intimate friends realized.  Naturally she and reserved she "came out" surprisingly, where she felt untrammeled; her fine mind, ready courtesy, unselfishness, desire to help and to serve to the best of her ability, were appreciated and understood by those who were fortunate enough to be "close to her heart."

The death of her beloved father was a life-long memory of sorrow.  It occurred when she was  a mere child, but shadowed all her life; later she was to bear more separations; and the death of the mother to whom she was devoted hade the most depressing effect upon her.

Failing health through several years, and brooding over the past affected her mind; yet through all that clouded her Reason her Faith shone bright and she looked forward to "the rest that remaineth."

We, whose hearts have been with her on "The Sorrowful Way," rejoice in her happy deliverance in Paradise with her Christ and her loved ones gone before.

"She lives--whom we call dead!"




Two obituaries for Mrs. Harriet Wickham, who died 7 September 1910 in Niles.  She was born in Niles on 23 October 1834 and was the daughter of Obed Lacy (or Lacey), an early pioneer of that city.  According to one, "Her beautiful influences were spread over a life and character as spotless and charming as was ever possessed by any of the noble women who have lived and died during the ages that are gone."  Her late husband, Captain Thomas Wickham, was also a prominent citizen.  She was a friend and neighbor of the Lardners. 


A clipping (an unusually jagged one) from the Chicago Daily Times, 29 January 1885, of "The Route of Gen. Stewart's Army." 



The Trinity Record, the bulletin of Trinity Parish in Niles, Michigan.  All the Lardners were members of Trinity and involved in various leadership roles.  Three issues were in the Bible, the first of which is pictured on the left.
  • Volume1, number.2 (February 1875)

Includes the beginning of the church history.  The Lardners are included:  “The house (now owned by Mrs. Hale,) corner of Broadway and 5th street, was purchased for a Rectory in March, 1849.  The price was $700, about half of which was subscribed in Philadelphia by friends of Miss Elizabeth Lardner.”  Ring’s maternal grandfather, Rev. Joseph F. Phillips, is also mentioned. 

Sunday-school choir:  William P. Lardner (Ring's brother) is a member.

  • Volume 1, number3 (March 1875)

The missionary committee of the Ladies’ Guild (getting materials and money together for a Colorado missionary) includes Mrs. Lardner (probably Lena, Ring's mother).

“Mrs. Lardner” is also listed as a Sunday school teacher, and William P. is in the choir.

  • Volume 1, number4 (April 1875)

Mrs. Julia Ann Lardner, wife of William Lardner is remembered: 

"Our City has lost, during the past Winter, an unprecedented number of those who were long and well known among us.  The remarkable ravages of death have been the subject of universal remark.  Of our own parishoioners [sic], seven have died during the past four months!  On Thursday, April 1st, the whole community was startled by the sudden, distressing death of Mrs. Julia Ann Lardner, who died after scarce a moment’s warning, while being driven home from an evening entertainment.  A large congregation attended "


A one-page religious tract entitled, The Law of God as Changed by the Papacy, printed 1884 by J. W. Scoles.  The content is suggested by the title. 



A religious tract entitled, Why and How you should read the Bible. 






A religious tract entitled, You Me, or Anybody Else, and published by the Free Tract Society in Los Angeles, California.    
A handwritten list of occasional verses (those best suited to inspire, sooth in time of sorrow, etc.) on P. H. Murphy Company form paper.  The Murphy Company is in New Kensington, Pennsylvania.



A handwritten note concerning the death of Julia Lewis Lardner.  Besides birth and marriage information, it includes a calculation of the number of days, months, and years she lived. 



A scrap of paper used to mark the page of a particular verse for church.  

Ancestry Immigration Collection

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