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The Alabama Baptist inspires woman to give journal to historic collection comment (0)

October 25, 2012

By Sarah Anne Elliott

The Alabama Baptist inspires woman to give journal to historic collection

From the moment her mother gave it to her, Alice Faye Couch always knew her great-grandfather’s journal was something special.

“In fact my mother kind of warned me about loaning it out when she put it in my hands,” said Couch, a member of Lakeside Baptist Church, Birmingham. 

But after reading two articles in The Alabama Baptist about the Special Collection Department at the Samford University Library in Birmingham, Couch is now willing to part with her prized family possession and wants the rest of the community to be able to benefit from the history the journal contains.

“You don’t live forever, and I felt that I should put it in a place where others might could have the benefit of history,” she said.

The Special Collection Department of the Samford University Library serves as the Alabama Baptist State Convention’s source for historical information. Among other things the collection includes church records, copies of The Alabama Baptist, local histories and genealogical information, making it the world’s most complete resource on Alabama Baptists.

According to Elizabeth Wells, the department’s chair, Couch’s donation is a “wonderful example of a 19th-century manuscript journal.” 

“We focus on people’s lifestyle, and we get to see the inside of a person who tells us who we are as a people and as a state in a certain period of time,” she said. 

Couch said the journal belonged to her great-grandfather, Daniel Matthias Brindle Hassler, and dates back to 1850, when Hassler departed from his hometown of Chambersburg, Pa., to come south due to health reasons. It tells of Hassler’s journey to Somerville, Tenn., where he married before eventually settling in Pratt City. 

“He was an Aetna insurance agent, and he calls his wife his precious ‘Jenny Ray,’” Couch said. 

She also said Hassler was “a man of the Word of God,” and she wants people to be able to learn from a man who was so devoted to the Lord. The journal’s opening lines read: “I have purchased another journal to record the kind dealings of the Lord to my soul.” 

Couch said, “As a senior citizen, I think it is very important that we know the life of our forebears. ... History is a vital thing for people to know … [because] it shapes your future.”

Ultimately, the journal “really shows the daily life [of Hassler] and who this man [was],” Wells said. “When you look to Daniel Hassler’s life in 1859, you also see people of 2012 — some of the same experiences he records are the same experiences we have today.” 

For more information about the Special Collection Department, visit library.samford.edu/about/special.html or call 205-726-2749. To arrange for your church records to be archived, call the Alabama Baptist Historical Commission at 1-800-325-9863.

(Julie Payne contributed)

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