Bockhold · Heirlooms · Huber · Organization

Grandma’s Red Book

The month of August always reminds me of my grandmother, Laura (Huber) Bockhold. She was born in this month and she passed away three days after her ninetieth birthday. My niece, also born in August, carries her name. Grandma had a deep faith in God and family members believed that her prayers were always answered.

Grandma had an interest in genealogy, in a non-genealogy way. She didn’t do research, but she knew things and enjoyed the topic. Maybe it’s more that she enjoyed the fact that I liked family history. It’s hard to say. She was very patient to answer my questions about her ancestors. She wasn’t annoyed with the questions as some might be. She recalled significant dates, even those pertaining to her grandparents and to her husband’s grandparents. How many of us can say that? And most importantly, she kept things. Important papers, photographs, and mementos that were of genealogical significance.

One of those items is a thick red book that I now own. It is entitled Explanation of the Epistles and Gospels, published in 1880.[1] Based on the date, I suspect this book was given to her mother, Frances (Meyer) Huber for her confirmation. Grandma and Great Grandma used it as their filing cabinet. It is stuffed with notes, recipes, letters, mass cards, newspaper clippings, bits of ribbon, and other such ephemera. I treasure this book. One of the most precious items is a Christmas letter written by Grandma to her parents when she was twelve.

letter 1letter 2letter 3

Thirteen years later, Laura was getting married.[2] A receipt details some wedding expenses:


Besides a filing cabinet, the book also served as a sort of Bible and baby book. The birth dates of all Laura’s children may be found on the inside cover. She was always so proud that she never miscarried and none of her children died as infants.

baby book

I have scanned all these tidbits and carefully recorded their locations in the book. The book is safely stored in an archival safe box in my home. I feel I’m carrying on the tradition of saving special items. It’s in my blood.

With Laura’s ninetieth birthday approaching, Grandma’s eight surviving children planned a party. Those who lived out of town traveled to be with her. The party was to be held the weekend following her birthday. But three days after she turned ninety, she died suddenly in the middle of the night.  All her children were nearby, which was always her wish. While some may find that tragic, I think it’s exactly the way she wanted it. Another prayer answered!

Do you have a special heirloom? If so, I recommend scanning/photographing it, at least the portions with family member’s handwriting. This way it is preserved and can be shared with cousins, if they are interested. Be sure to document the origins of the item and keep the documentation with it. Then make sure to store the original book in an archival safe box. The box should be stored where it is not exposed to temperature extremes.

I am not an archival expert, so explore this topic to make sure you are doing the best thing to preserve your unique treasures. I have purchased archival materials from University Products with good results. Many other companies sell archival materials, so find what works for you.

I hope you find this helpful. Happy Preserving!

[1] Rev. Leonard Goffine, Explanation of the Epistles and Gospels […], forty-second ed. (New York: Fr. Pustet & Co., 1880). A digital image of this book may be found at

[2] St. Anthony Catholic Church (Quincy, Adams, Illinois), “Marriage Records,” 9 June 1915, Bockhold-Huber; St. Anthony’s Catholic Church.

One thought on “Grandma’s Red Book

  1. Thank you so much for sharing this letter and your reflections! It brings back fond memories of Grandma Bockhold. During my visits with her she almost always brought up the one prayer that was not answered the way she wanted. She often wondered aloud why God had not taken her instead of Uncle Henry (her son). But her Faith remained strong and she continued to pray for her large family. In her later years it was 3 rosaries a day!

    I also agree with your thought that she died the way she wanted. She often talked about having never imagined that she would live as long as she had. She did not like the idea of turning 90! I’m sure that with her surviving children all nearby that she felt the time was right.

    She would be very pleased that there are family members preserving the heirlooms and memories!


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