151-year-old bible returned to Scotland after 3,500 mile trek

Donald Mackechnie, with a 151-year-old Bible which has been returned to the Scots descendants of its original owner. Picture: The Church of Scotland/PA Wire
Donald Mackechnie, with a 151-year-old Bible which has been returned to the Scots descendants of its original owner. Picture: The Church of Scotland/PA Wire
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A 151-year-old bible has been returned to the Scots descendants of its original owner after making a 3,500-mile journey from the US.

The book was returned after American owner Marshall Whitehead decided to track down the family of the original possessor.

Donald Mackechnie, 66, from Glasgow, said he was “amazed” when a stranger turned up at his home with the bible that had belonged to his grandmother’s great-grandfather.

Mr Whitehead, who was gifted the pocket-sized book in 2001 by an amateur bible collector from Cleveland, Ohio, had rediscovered it when moving home in May. Noting that the Bible bore the name Alexander MacDonald of Inverness with the date 1 January, 1866, he decided to track down the descendants of Mr MacDonald, who was born in Inverness in 1825 and worked as a ship master, wine merchant and grocer.

After contacting Highland Council, he was put in touch with Anne Fraser, a historian at the Highland Archive Centre who created a MacDonald family tree. Mr Whitehead used social media to track down Mr Mackechnie’s daughter Mairi, who alerted her Islay-raised father.

The Bible, which had a four-leaf clover tucked within its pages, was hand-delivered to Mr Mackechnie by Alistair Begg, a pastor at Mr Whitehead’s church in Ohio who is originally from Glasgow and was visiting relatives in the city last month.

Mr Mackechnie, clerk to the board at St Columba Gaelic Church of Scotland in Glasgow, said: “There was a knock on the door one day and this chap was standing there.

“I almost fell on the floor when he explained what he was giving me. I could not believe it. It was such a shock and a surprise. The whole family are delighted and over the moon to receive his previously unheard of family heirloom.”