Peggy Burns doesn’t know how her mother-in-law acquired the small Bible that once belonged to a Sheffield resident, but she’d like to return it to the family.
“What I have was in my late mother-in-law’s possession,” said Burns, who lives in a suburb of Sacramento, Calif.
Burns said she found a small Bible that had been given to Private Ulysses Saint by Mary Ellen Sanford in 1944.
She said the New Testament Bible measures 4½ inches by 2¾ inches. Written inside was the name, Mary Ellen Sanford, Route 1, Sheffield, and the date, March 23, 1944.
There also was a message that read: “May this Bible keep you safe from harm. I am sending you this to keep always. My love for you is more than words can express. I hope this little gift will express the way I feel about you. Pee Wee, always carry this close to your heart.”
Neither Burns nor her husband know anyone named Saint or Sanford, she said. Burns and her husband have had the Bible for 16 or 17 years. She did not know when her mother-in-law acquired it.
Burns said she used the Internet to locate websites for Sheffield and Colbert County, but emails to officials were not returned.
Sheffield Mayor Ian Sanford said he has never heard of a Mary Ellen Sanford.
“My dad didn’t have a sister,” Sanford said. “In 1944, he was in the war over in the Pacific.”
His uncle, Braxton Sanford, married a woman who had a daughter, but her name was not Mary Ellen, he said. Sanford said he would check with his mother to see if she recognized the name.
Burns would like to get the Bible back into the hands of family members of Ulysses Saint or Mary Ellen Sanford.
“It may mean something to somebody,” Burns said. “If somebody would like to have it, give me the address and I’d be glad to mail it to them.”
Russ Corey can be reached at 256-740-5738 or russ.corey@TimesDaily.com.