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Bible Reveals Family History

"Bible Reveals Family History." Aberdeen American News, June 1975.


Many people have, in recent years, expressed an interest in the past through the collection of antiques. Mrs. Melvin (Gladys) Rodgers, Ellendale, N.D., expresses her interest in the past by displaying "Die Bibel oder dei ganze Heilige Schrift."
Mrs. Gladys Rodgers of Ellendale, N.D., proudly displays Die Bibel oder die ganze Heilige Schrift.  The Bible was published in 1812 and is written in the old German script.  It was a gift to Mrs. Rodgers from her mother.

Translated from German that means "the Bible or the entire Holy Scripture."

This Bible was used to record family history, including birth, marriage and death dates in the Oswald family back to 1867.

The Bible was recently presented to Mrs. Rodgers by her mother, Mrs. Margaretha Edelman Oswald, who is residing in the Good Samaritan Center in DeSmet.

The Bible was published in 1812 and had belonged to Mrs. Rodgers grandmother when the family immigrated to the United States from Russia. It was then presented to Mrs. Rodgers mother on Aug. 8, 1896.

By tracing the family history recorded in the Bible Mrs. Rodgers discovered that her mother’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Jacob Edelman, were among the first three groups of German-Russians found in South Dakota.

"They were Evangelical Black Sea Germans and came to the U.S. in 1873, homesteading 20 miles north of Yankton on Highway 81." There the family established a farm and also built a church called the Evangelical United Brethren Church.

The Bible consists of des Alt und Neuen Testmanets (the old and new Testaments) according to the German translation of Martin Luther. It also contains several maps of Russia.

However, not many people can read from the Bible as it is written in German and in script. But, Mrs. Rodgers is one of those people who can read, write and speak German fluently.

In speaking of her family history, Mrs. Rodgers noted "I was confirmed in both English and German – the only one in a class of eight to have this done."

Mrs. Rodgers was born in Yankton County on Sept. 15, 1918. She attended school at Yankton and later attended Freeman Junior College, majoring in teaching.

She taught rural schools in McPherson and Brown counties and was also the first secretary in the Farmers and Merchants Bank in Aberdeen from 1955-56.

She lived in and around Aberdeen from 1940 to 1972. In 1972 she married Melvin Rodgers and they established a home in Ellendale, N.D.

In addition to the Bible, Mrs. Rodgers also owns a Book of German Bible Stories and a copy of "geschichten der Bibel Evangeliums Lieder" better known as a German hymn book.

"I sang in the adult German choir for many years. On Sunday evenings we sang German hymns on a Yankton radio station."

Mrs. Rodgers noted the family church has been sold but the family cemetery is still located on the original homestead. "All of the relatives are buried in the Oswald Cemetery."

Mrs. Rodgers says she intends to maintain the family records in hopes that another generation may also learn from them.

Reprinted with permission of the Aberdeen American News.

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