It all started logically enough with a bowling ball. I was at the famous Christmas Place with my father who had a special project for me that weekend. Clean out the old home that we called the Witchs’ House.
The old home had been on the property for well over a hundred years and was now used for storage. I got up Saturday morning, backed a trailer up to the front door and got started while Dad headed to the lake to catch some fish.
Clothes, broken furniture, old farm records, assorted boxes, books, trash and an old bowling ball were in the front room. I started hauling stuff out. For some reason I picked up the bowling ball and did a great basketball hook shot with it into a large overstuffed chair. The ball promptly bounced out and straight onto the fireplace hearth.
Wham! The stone hearth was cracked open on one corner where the ball had landed. I looked and could see a narrow cavity. The bowling ball and cleaning were forgotten as I left to get a flashlight and a crowbar. Returning I shined the light in the hole and could see the edge of a wrapped bundle.
There was a very narrow and cleverly disguised gap under the hearth just big enough to hold the oil-skinned wrapped book I pulled out.
Opening it carefully I found the original Parker/ Christmas Family Bible.
I sat down in the old chair, made myself comfortable and started looking through it.
Faded birth and death dates were on many of the pages and the book was so fragile that I had to be very careful that it did not fall apart. In fact the back pages seemed all glued together and to the rear binding. I carefully pulled a few pages apart at this point and realized that the last few books of the bible had been hollowed out and a smaller book hidden inside the large Bible. I lifted it out and opened it. The first page said Diary and Journal of Lieutenant Julian Christmas CSA 1865.