History Mystery: The Bible of Leonard and Martha Destin

Tina Harbuck
The Destin Log
History Mystery by H. C. “Hank” Klein

The original Holy Bible of the family of Leonard and Martha (McCullom) Destin of Moreno Point Military Reservation (later known as East Pass, and today Destin, Florida) has been located and contains valuable family information. This Holy Bible is the subject of this month’s History Mystery.

The Bible belonging to Leonard and Martha Destin was published by John B. Perry, 198 Market Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1855.

Family record page in Leonard Destin's bible.

It was acquired, after the death of Martha Destin in 1896, by their son, Leonard Destin, Jr. Leonard Destin, Jr. married Mary Ellen Parish on January 18, 1891, at Boggy and they had two children, Ellen, and Leonard III. After the death of Leonard Destin, Jr. on November 22, 1916, his daughter Ellen (Destin) Melvin acquired the family Bible.

Mary Ellen Destin married Odom T. (O.T.) Melvin on July 28, 1914, in Pensacola, Florida. After Mary Ellen (Destin) Melvin's death on November 8, 1982, the Bible was acquired by her youngest daughter Carolyn Isabel (Melvin) Vagias.

Leonard Destin's bible.

Upon the passing of Carolyn (Melvin) Vagias on December 18, 2013, her son, Louis Vagias II, M.D., acquired the Bible. This Bible documents the births, marriages, and deaths of Leonard and Martha (McCullom) Destin, the founders of Destin, Florida and their children, as follows:

Pages from the Leonard Destin family bible.

· The large handwriting in blue ink on the top of the second births page (the first three entries) and marriages pages (the first entry) is believed to be in the handwriting of Leonard Destin based upon other documents (1863 Quit Claim Deed) bearing Leonard Destin’s signature.

· The smaller handwriting (in black ink) on the first birth page is most probably in the handwriting of Martha Destin. Notice Martha's middle name is Jane. On the second birth page, the smaller handwriting (in black ink) – the seven entries just below Leonard’s are also probably in the handwriting of Martha Destin as are the first two entries on the deaths page.

Family record pages of deaths from the Leonard Destin's bible.

· Additional hand-written entries maybe those of Ellen (Destin) Melvin and other Destin children or grandchildren.

· In addition to Births, this Bible also contains Marriages, and Deaths of the Destin family documented through 1941.

Marriages recorded in the bible of Leonard Destin.

This Bible is large - 11 inches tall, 9 inches wide and 3 inches thick. The Bible's front cover is missing, and it has some water damage. The Vagias home received water damage when they lived on Okaloosa Island during hurricane Opal, in 1995.

Today, we have the internet and all sorts of genealogical websites where we can discover details about our past relatives' lives. Back in the day of Leonard Destin, the family Bible was how family records of births, marriages, and deaths were kept and then passed on to future generations.

H. C. “Hank” Klein is a Destin historian, author, and speaker on local history. He lives in Bob Hope Village in Shalimar with his wife (the former Muriel Marler of Destin). Klein recently published two Destin history books - DESTIN Pioneer Settlers...A Land History of Destin, Florida from 1819-1940 and DESTIN’S Founding Father…The Untold Story of Leonard Destin. Both can be obtained from, The Destin History & Fishing Museum in Destin, Henderson Beach Resort in Destin, The Indian Temple Mound in Fort Walton Beach, and Sundog Books in Seaside. Klein can be contacted directly at