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Local News

April 16, 2014

Walton woman reprints 'jewel' of local history

A “precious jewel” of local history has been polished up to a new shine by an area author. 

Beatrice Bennett of Walton has published a new edition of the book, “The Founding and Growth: Beerston Presbyterian Church 1888-1953,” supplemented with some new material. 

“I’ve added a sequel along with more photographs,” said Bennett, who will be signing and selling her book at Walton Big M Grocer from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday. 

During the snowy winter, Bennett began thumbing through her copy of The Founding and Growth.

“One photograph, of James Goodrich, caught my attention,” said Bennett. “I went to my Goodrich family genealogy and discovered the man was my great uncle.”

“The Presbyterian book also had a picture of another great uncle, Joseph Goodrich,” said Bennett. “I remember him from when I was a kid.”

“Then I read that my great-grandparents, Smith and Ella Goodrich, lived in Beerston,” added Bennett.

These discoveries, as well as demand for the rare tome, spurred Bennett to take on the task of reviving the text. 

“I wanted to add a sequel, though,” said Bennett, who proceeded to call relatives of the church members to ask for more photographs and history. 

“It was a lot of work. Not very many people had photographs,” said Bennett. “At first I was dismayed for the lack of photographs, then I finally realized not many of us could afford a camera back then.”

In the mid-20th century, when the New York City Department of Environmental Protection started buying buildings and land, the Beerston Presbyterian Church members mobilized. The prescience was clear. Cannonsville Reservoir would soon be the new image to behold along state Route 10.

Practiced at gathering the manna of spiritual food, they gathered history and photographs to produce the book, “The Founding and Growth: Beerston Presbyterian Church 1888-1953.” Members shared their valuable photographs long enough to publish them in one book.

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