Family bible dating back to the 1800s returns to rightful heir

When a Rochester Hills couple found a family bible dating back to 1851 –complete with Mother's Day cards, marriage and death certificates, letters and more– they knew it was too valuable to hold onto.

Instead, Larry Schramm and his wife, Joyce, sought out its rightful heir with the help of FOX 2 Detroit. The only clue they had was the last name Wendell.

"It's amazing how old this book is," Larry said. "It was a neat find."

The couple own a storage facility in Grand Blanc. While cleaning out an abandoned semi-trailer on their property a few years ago, they found the bible. It was the only item that was not destroyed by the rain and mold; it was wrapped up in a plastic bag, completely dry, he added.

Larry attempted to find the appropriate recipient for the bible but was unsuccessful in contacting any family members. In June 2023, he decided to deliver the bible to Fox 2 Detroit. Eventually, Fox 2 was able to get in touch with a woman in Arizona, Chrys Wendell. 

Wendell says the bible belonged to her dad's side of the family. 

"My grandparents were antique dealers, and my father had this semi with all the stuff in it. And when he passed away, his friend said he would handle it and get rid of everything in there for us, but obviously he didn't," she said. "I (didn't) even know that the bible existed, so this is all news to me."

Wendell said she has been trying to learn more about her family history, so the bible came as a welcomed surprise and family heirloom. Her father, Patrick, passed away about seven years ago.


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"Once you get older like me you start going ‘Oh well, where’s my family? Where are we from?' So I did that DNA test and I found a lot of relatives on my dad's side that I didn't know because they had so small of a family," she continued. "My only connection was my dad really - to find out family history."

The bible is currently being sent to Arizona for Wendell to keep. 

"It belongs with family and that's where we're happy to have it at," Larry said.