Heritage Edition
Published February 2007
by Patricia Adams in The Towne Crier

In 1998, Bebe Loizeaux, a resident of Beaverkill and the Pastor of The Beaverkill Methodist Church, talked with neighbors about the need for help in preserving the original clapboard siding of this simple, elegant one room church. The Church had been open to everyone in the community for many years – for weddings, christenings, funerals and every Christmas Eve for a carol sing, so I sent a letter to residents of the valley to see if we could work with church members on this. The response was enthusiastic and when we met to talk about raising funds, we found other areas of mutual interest; the Beaverkill Covered Bridge, the Beaverkill Campsite and the 1890’s metal bridge at Craigie Claire. We decided to form The Friends of Beaverkill Community.

As we met and talked about ways to enhance and preserve these things, a growing sense of community developed and our natural surroundings led to curiosity about the people who lived here in the past. The old stone walls climbing across the mountains marked pastures from another era. Old barns reminded us of the days when this valley was dotted with farms and boarding houses. The sharpness of the icy winters, the river brimming and sometimes raging in the spring, the lazy summer days swimming under the covered bridge and the brilliance of sugar maples in autumn made us wonder; how did the people before us experience these seasons? Why did they build these houses, this church, this covered bridge? What were their lives like?

Most of us moved here as adults, but a few of us had the opportunity to get to know people who had lived here since the early 20th Century. Some of them had kept memoirs of their life. People who had spent summers in Beaverkill also had notes and pictures of earlier days. Many of us found records of valley events in boxes left in attics in the old houses we bought, old ‘flyers’ about the campsite or hotels in the area, some of which had been printed in magazines or newspapers, and many pictures(too often with no captions) left behind by previous owners. Clearly people in the valley had been keeping records and writing about the history of the Beaverkill for many years. So we decided to preserve this heritage in a book.
We combined an initial group of memoirs, stories and pictures to form our first volume of Stories of the Beaverkill. It was designed by Elizabeth Ennis, from Roscoe, and printed by the students at Livingston Manor High School. The 200 copies quickly sold and there was great interest in publishing another book.

Volume II was a much bigger undertaking. Over thirty people (some of whom moved away years ago) contributed articles, poems, pictures and background information. These voices illuminate a particular time, place or event in the valley and cover the period from early settlement up through the 1960’s. They include a variety of topics; the histories of over ten families, a mother’s letters to her two sons serving in WWII, telling of her solitary life at Clear Lake, childhood memories of swimming, hiking and rabid foxes in the 40’s and 50’s, games on one of the first golf courses in Sullivan County, and tales of hunting and fishing on the river.

The articles were edited by Virginia Lawrence, John Kelly and Patricia Adams. Virginia Lawrence volunteered to design the book. Again the students at Livingston Manor High School, under the supervision of Dr. Debra Lynker and Sue Zieres, printed 200 copies. They were sold within weeks after they came back from the binders.

Now we have combined the two volumes and added some more information and a collection of photographs from the Beaverkill archives to make The Heritage Edition of Stories of the Beaverkill, which went on sale in February 2007.

For those of us in Beaverkill, this book enlivens our present with the past and enriches our sense of community. Stories of the Beaverkill has strengthened our friendships and created a sense of mutual commitment to a place we have all grown to love.

But the value of this book goes far beyond individual voices or our individual valley. The real value is how a community can work together to produce something that celebrates a shared heritage and preserves it for generations to come.



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