Swearing-In Bible Has a Storied Past

2013 Swearing InSaturday morning, the Curtis Bible was used to swear in Governor Pat McCrory's eight new cabinet secretaries. The Bible, which is in the permanent collection of the State Archives, has quite an interesting story behind it. In fact, it is believed to have saved its namesake’s life.

A native of Caldwell County, Burton McKinley Curtis enlisted in the Army shortly after the U.S. entry into World War I. Assigned as a cook with 113th Field Artillery Regiment, Curtis was sent to Europe less than a month after his enlistment. Curtis’s unit took heavy fire during an assault on German forces as part of the Battle of Saint-Mihiel near Verdun, France, and the Bible reportedly saved Curtis’s life by absorbing the impact of a bullet or shrapnel.

The damage to the Bible that resulted from the hit is still evident today. Curtis BibleAfter receiving an honorable discharge in 1919, Curtis returned to North Carolina and worked as a bailer at a cotton mill. He donated the pocket-sized, war-worn New Testament to the Hall of History (now the N.C. Museum of History) on November 16, 1920. The Bible was eventually transferred to the Archives because it is a document. This piece of North Carolina history was selected for the ceremony by Governor McCrory’s inaugural committee.

The governor provided a commemorative bible to each of his new cabinet secretaries. Some also chose to bring a family bible. The Curtis Bible resided on the the rostrum in front of Justice Paul Newby, who administered the oath. 

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