DANVILLE, Va. – Electrician Michael Hoskins is not averse to browsing when he drops off trash at the Route 41 dump bin, and a recent visit rewarded his curiosity. Hoskins said he discovered a 188-year-old King James Bible. Now he's fending off offers approaching $1,000 for the find.
"I go up there all the time to drop off my household trash, and there it was," Hoskins told the Danville Register & Bee. "There were three or four boxes of books leaning up against the concrete wall behind the Dumpsters," Hoskins said. "I found the Bible in four pieces, put them together and took it home."
While otherwise intact, the Bible appeared to have fire damage and had watermarks on some of its inner pages. The sheepskin-covered book was printed in Pittsburgh in 1818 and, according to Hoskins' research, is one of less than half dozen copies in existence.
"You can also see where it survived a fire at one time," he said. "I was always told a Bible wouldn't burn and have seen it before in other church and house fires."
Hoskins also looked into the Bible's history and discovered that it belonged to the Enoch family.
"So, I also did research on the Internet and found a descendant of Isaac Enoch listed in the Bible," Hoskins said.
Enoch was born on Jan. 25, 1775, and he and his children are listed on the outer pages.
"I talked to a man named James Lockhart in Coolville, Ohio, and he claims to be a direct descendant of Isaac," Hoskins said.
The two talked for several hours, and 71-year-old Lockhart told Hoskins that he has researched his family genealogy for 40 years and always felt there had to be a family Bible out there.
"I mailed him copies of the family history from the Bible, and he said it helped him fill in some of the gaps in his research," Hoskins said.
With word spreading on his discovery, Hoskins said he's had offers from rare book shops and others, all of which he's resisted.
"No, this Bible has made it through a lot. I am going to hold on to it for now. I will sell for the right price, but $900 is not realistic, not with only six of them left in existence."
His discovery early in July was found amid boxes of literary works on the Revolutionary and Civil Wars. He returned the next day to retrieve them.
"All of the books were gone, and the containers had already been sent to the landfill. So that's where the Bible would have ended up had it not been saved," Hoskins said.