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A Hawaii Family Bible Story

An Amazing Story of Familes Reunited
This blog post is in no way meant to be an advertisement or endorsement for Bonanza; it is just a story that I felt should be told, because every sale has a story behind it, and this one is CNN News-worthy, in my opinion.  I have lived and worked on the Big Island of Hawaii for almost 14 or 15 years now.  I am a lifelong career Table Waiter in high-end restaurants, so my employment was based in Kailua Kona, on the famous Kona Coast, where some of the best restaurants in the world are purported to be.  Personally, that is up for debate, but that is a story for another blog.  I have been a renter the whole time living here, so whenever moving, I tried to stay as close as I could to the Kona Coastline so I would not have to make a long drive to get to work: they don't call it the Big Island for nothing, that's for sure.
During one of the times that I had to move and was looking for a new place to live, a co-worker of mine at the time recommended I go check out this piece of property her and her sisters just bought up on the mauka (mountain) above Keauhou.  My wife (at the time) and I went to take a look at it, and we liked what we saw, so we took it and moved in.  The living space was really cramped, though, by the time we got all our stuff inside.  However,    The house had an attached workshop 
which was a huge room, maybe 20' X 20' with vaulted ceilings, but you could not even open the door to it when we moved in because it was packed from floor to ceiling with old rusted metal tools, rotted shelves, boxes of old useless papers, non-working pieces of old useless household items, and just a big, huge mess of junk and useless, worthless, random stuff. Whoever had owned the house before we moved in just left it full like that. None of it had probably been touched for 40 years or more, because we contacted the "new owner" that we were renting it from to ask her about it and if we could clear it out for more living space, and that's the information she gave us. We asked her permission to clean it out so we could use the space as a living room area, because we needed it, and it was the biggest room in the house. She told us if we wanted to go through the trouble of cleaning it out, we were more than welcome to anything that was in there; she wanted nothing to do with it. So we dug in and went at it. 99% of it was useless junk and rubbish, but towards the very end when we were on the last couple of dump runs, towards the back of this room in the corner on a rotted, falling apart wood shelf, was a stack of about six boxes of books.  Most of them were falling apart ruined and worthless, but some of them were okay, although smelled musty. They were all books of a religious nature, and I donated most of them, but there was this Bible among the collection, and I have had it ever since, since about 1999 or so.
Hawaiian Family Register
Everybody loves their family, right?  Most families have at least one member that knows the genealogy of their heritage,have records and documents, data from internet genealogy programs, and basically a paper trail of some kind.  Most Hawaiians do not have this privilege as there are no written recorded histories or documentation evidence available to trace their family history.  And that is what Hula is really all about.  Certain styles of Hula and Meles (songs) and chants were a way of passing down stories of their ancients and elders, but no written histories.  I knew this item would have some kind of value to someone somewhere in the world, someday.
Hawaiian Births
Bible Cover
Item as Described in the Sold Listing

Rare Holy Bible you won't find anywhere! Published by A.J. Holman & Co., Philadelphia. There is no publication year or date that I could find anywhere printed but I've seen others similar to it in my research, and they were all late 1890's or turn of the century. If I am wrong, I apologize; please let me know and I will be happy to revise this listing. There are no missing, creased, wrinkled, or folded over pages, although they are starting to come loose from the binder. Leather front and back covers are still intact, but some of the spine has worn away. There are a couple of short strips of scotch tape that someone put there sometime in the past to lovingly hold it together, and was already there when I came across this item and have not tried to remove it for fear of compromising the current condition. The true value is in the contents of the Hawaiian Family registry. The front cover is engraved with the name: Herman K. Miller, and the very first birth listed in the family registry is Herman K. Miller-born 1880, and goes on from there with a complete list of over 30 years worth of births, deaths, newspaper clippings, etc. of Herman K. Miller descendants, all of which have Hawaiian names. Any Hawaiians out there looking for their Heritage or long lost family members? That is what makes this Bible a guaranteed one of a kind. The Hawaiian people have no written record of their descendency, and this could be a very important find to someone, and I would love to see this item sell to someone who can actually do something with the information to link some long lost family back together again. I will ship this item within 2-3 days of cleared payment, very carefully and well packaged via Priority Mail to ensure safety and quick delivery, with insurance, tracking number, and delivery confirmation included."

In 2010, I signed up for eBay for the first time ever to get rid of a bunch of stuff that I actually got good money for, and it was stuff that I didn't even care about!  I was hooked on listing stuff after that.  I tried and tried to research this Bible, but it just became too exhausting with no luck online. I listed it on eBay at least three times, lowering the price each time, thinking it would go right away, but it did not.  So I decided not to relist it again, figuring maybe nobody cared, wanted it, or that it was just plain worthless.  I don't know what happened with eBay, but they just went blind and dumb since January of 2010.  I removed all my listings, closed down shop, and went on a web-search for "eBay alternatives", "Anti-PayPal" (which is how I found out about Google Checkout), and "Anti-eBay Auction Sites".  I did some more, but they all had the same basic search titles, and that's how I came across  I fell in love with it instantly.  The coloring, the simple, easy-to-use interface, one page listing creator, and free to list with super, super low selling fees.  They have the programming, the feedback, the ratings system, hand picked list creator, and is one of the very best eBay alternatives that I have found.  Multiple payment options are fantastic, including Google Checkout, Money Orders, PayPal (Yuck), or include your own payment instructions, such as Bank-to-Bank online transfer, Personal Checks, and more.  Sales are a lot slower there at first, but with the online community of other sellers communicating with you and tweeting and sharing your branding and listings, it will start moving.  
I posted the Bible there for sale for the same asking price I had listed it on eBay for.  At Bonanza, your listed items stay listed until you remove them, so there is no time limit for it to sell or not to sell, which is great because you can just create a listing and forget about it; if it sells, it sells, but at least it stays.  They also do automatic submission to Google for your items to appear in Google Search results based on the product information you provide when creating your listing.  It was one of the very first items I posted in my Booth when I signed up for Bonanza about four months ago.  In the meantime, I have continued to work on other listings at, and during the last month or so, Facebook has undergone some kind of "update"/"upgrade" (whatever), and when I was checking my Facebook messages last week, I noticed that my message list was different, with "messages" appearing as always, but under that was a link that said "other", where before it was "updates" from your F/B favorites.  So I clicked on it, and among the normal updates page, there was a personal message dated May 20-something that I just happened to decide to read, because I usually delete all those types of update messages.  There was a message from a person interested and making an offer.  I accepted.  Here is where this story gets really interesting.  Here is part of the message the buyer sent me during our communication on Facebook:
"If I remember correctly, that home once belonged to my Aunt Zelie... whose name is in that bible. I told my mom about the listing and she will be making the purchase. This was such an amazing find to come across on the internet... a random google search for Hawaiian Bibles! I cannot tell you how thankful we are that you didnt throw it away... which most certainly others would have.   It was actually purchased by my 4x great grandfather with my 3x gg name listed as the first birth... We've been sharing the story with our entire family and everyone is trying to figure out how it got into the back of an old house! What we have come up with is...The bible, among other church books, must have been cleaned out of My Aunt Zelies property (we found she lived in Kealakekua) but they had a church in Kona. My Aunt Zelie married Mark Sutherland and they were teachers/ministers in Kona. Its the only way we can think of why the Bible would have been among other books. That part is speculation... but its fun to try and find out what happened!  Thank you for accepting our offer and many blessings to you!"
I am in shock and ecstatic for them because it was just what I was hoping for.  I always thought it would sell eventually, but I never thought the transaction would go the way it did:
1. I was contacted through my Facebook profile with interest in an item, which I was very happy to see
2.  The buyer found it using a random Google search for Hawaiian Bibles, which lets me know right there that my listings are definitely showing up, which also makes me joyous.
3.  I always thought it might sell to someone who might be a specialist in Hawaiian Genealogy, or a local art shop museum or something like that, but I never dreamed that it would sell to someone who recognized a name on the list and are direct descendants!  
4.  I couldn't be happier for them, and it is not even about the sale, it's about heritage, family, history, and making long lost connections with other unknown family members.
So, now the Bible has been shipped and is currently on its way to the best home that it could possibly have, back home where it belongs, after over 100 years of moving around and being handed down, left behind, and held onto for over 10 years by a stranger, just waiting for Bonanza, Google Checkout, and that one  "OH MY GOD!  I DON'T BELIEVE YOU HAVE THAT!" moment when someone saw it.  This moment couldn't have been better for me or the buyer, and I am so happy for them and their family.


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Reader Comments  (13)

Vintage Around The Clock
Vintage Around The Clock | June 11th 2011 at 1307798976

I love this story! This is one of many reasons that I sell vintage also. These items belong somewhere and I feel it's my mission to find that item's proper home.

Thanks for sharing your interesting story!

Fredrick Nijm
Fredrick Nijm | June 22nd 2011 at 1308778506

Thank you for sharing your story with all of us. Love all the reasons why everyone chooses to do what they do. :) | June 22nd 2011 at 1308779558

That's the way it happens sometimes. It's always a pleasant shock. Congratulations.
beachcats_bargains | June 22nd 2011 at 1308780198

Very interesting!! Love the happy ending for all concerned!
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Donna's Stuff & More | June 22nd 2011 at 1308785653

What a wonderful story! Thanks for sharing.
Pink Hill Vintage
Pink Hill Vintage | June 22nd 2011 at 1308786209

What an awesome story...I had to share this with my husband, thank you for sharing Thomas.
Indizona Variety
Indizona Variety | June 22nd 2011 at 1308793963

Wow, how cool is that?
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marla radcliffe   | June 22nd 2011 at 1308804433

So interesting to read how things happen probably the way they are surposed to if we let/make them. Thanks for sharing a wonderful blog Thomas.
BargainBasement | June 23rd 2011 at 1308846208

Very interesting!
Tuckerstuff | July 6th 2011 at 1309966881 - in reply to pinkhillvintage

That's great, Pinkhill, apparently it has caught the attention of the Facebook executives and a movie and design team. We are working on some kind of deal right now. I'm just waiting it out. I sent this blog story to "The Best OF Facebook Stories", and the execs sent me an email within a couple days time, and it began on the 22nd when Facebook first contacted me and told me they wanted to publish and go "live" with the story, but they needed my permission to use the photos. I said sure, no problem. I haven't heard from them since the 24th, and honestly didn't think I would, but yesterday morning, I got the following message in an email:
Hi Thomas,
I hope you had a great July 4th weekend. As I'm getting closer to featuring your story, I wanted to tell you that your story has caught the attention of our film and design team. They were wondering if it would be ok if they contact you to see if your story fits with their current project. Would you also be able to see if the woman who bought the bible would be willing to participate? If you could pass on her contact info as well, our team would love to hear the story from her side--how she has been contacting her family members, etc.
Thanks so much!

Well, of course I said yes, so now I'm just waiting for the Big Move Deal. I will keep you all informed.
Shars Gift Mart
Shars Gift Mart | December 7th 2011 at 1323307382

Wonderful story! I hope it all works out for you :)
Tuckerstuff | December 7th 2011 at 1323312439 - in reply to sharlynscountry

Thanks very much, this is definitely a story "to be continued". I will be updating soon.
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Jan Maloof Rusticsecretgardens   | December 7th 2011 at 1323313037

What a great story, Tom! Hope all goes well for you!

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