Family’s history by the book

Kellie BalaamNarrogin Observer
Wagin Historical Village secretary Joyce Turnor and president Max Bell.
Camera IconWagin Historical Village secretary Joyce Turnor and president Max Bell. Credit: Picture: Kellie Balaam

Tossed into a back shed with ripped pages falling apart at the spine, the historical Holland family bible has been salvaged and is now on display at the Wagin Historical Village.

Descendant of the Holland family Bill Powell took it upon himself to restore the bible at a cost of about $600.

“I wanted to preserve this historical document,” Mr Powell said.

“The birth register entries are handwritten by my great-grandmother, Emily Jane Holland, and in those days this was the only way to record family births, marriages and deaths.”

The Holland family bible dates back to 1874 and contains the original birth register documenting the family of nine sons and six daughters.

At the front of the bible is the family register documenting family members in Emily Holland's handwriting.
Camera IconAt the front of the bible is the family register documenting family members in Emily Holland's handwriting.

Mr Powell said this pioneering family was important and not just for personal reasons.

“They’re important to me because they’re my great-grandparents, but they also contributed a lot to the community in sports, music, horseracing and business,” he said.

The Holland family had a farm in Wedgecarrup, a small settlement close to Wagin.

Investigations into their lives highlighted the ordeals endured by residents of the district in the early 20th century.

The parents, Edward and Emily Jane, outlived six of their children, who died in tragic accidents or from infections easily treated today.

Mr Powell said the family had a large number of descendants.

“Many of them still live in Wagin or nearby towns. In addition to the name Holland, known surnames include Nenke, Drage, Rudinger, Edwards and Morris,” he said.

The Holland family bible has been restored and placed in a specially made cabinet.Picture: Kellie Balaam/Narrogin Observer
Camera IconThe Holland family bible has been restored and placed in a specially made cabinet.Picture: Kellie Balaam/Narrogin Observer

Part of Mr Powell’s reason for restoring the bible was so relatives could learn about the family history.

The bible was originally donated to the Wagin Historical Village in 1990 by relative Heather Nenke and is now displayed in a glass cabinet inside the village church.

Wagin Historical Village secretary Joyce Turnor said she thought it was a fantastic idea.

“Normally, once an item is donated to the village, people can’t take it back but we gave him permission because the bible was in such a bad way,” she said.

Mrs Turnor said the glass cabinet was made and donated by Norm Robinson and is constructed from locally milled sugar gum.

Mr Powell hoped distant relatives in and around the region could be made aware of the reincarnated family bible.

“I just didn’t want the bible to fall apart and be lost. This farming family endured the same hardships as many other people who grew up in Wagin and Narrogin during those days.”

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