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Book signing to aid Benjamin Godfrey Legacy Trail project

godfreystudentsALTON — A book signing to aid the campaign to establish a Benjamin Godfrey Legacy Trail is planned from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday, May 20, at the Hayner Genealogy and History Library in Downtown Alton.

The public is invited to purchase signed copies of “Seymour Bluffs and Benjamin Godfrey,” a children’s book written specifically for the initiative.

Students currently enrolled in Alton High School’s Graphic Communication and Digital Photography program created characters for the newest Seymour Bluffs book, written by local author Phyllis Bechtold and Hayner Library historian, Lacy McDonald.

“I wrote the book with Lacy McDonald, the historian. We want to make sure everything is correct,” Bechtold said. “The students at Alton High are illustrating it. When it’s complete, it will be for sale as a fund-raiser for the Benjamin Godfrey Legacy Trail Project.”

The students are the official illustrators of Seymour Bluffs and Benjamin Godfrey. Their work will come to life for local children and adults who want to learn more about Benjamin Godfrey, his accomplishments, and his life as a prominent influence in the development of Alton and Godfrey.

bechtold phyllis“It’s important to me, with this being our legacy, because I know that my nieces and nephews are going to grow up here, and they’re going to be in third grade someday and read this book, and it’s going to have my name in it,” explained student illustrator, Julianna Fair.

The book is part of a larger community project, spearheaded by the North Alton-Godfrey Business Council, in collaboration with the East End Improvement Association in Alton and Alton Community School District 11. “Seymour Bluffs and Benjamin Godfrey” is a companion piece to augment the historical education being introduced into the third-grade curriculum in Alton Public Schools.

“The school district and the community are interdependent,” said Elaine Kane, Alton curriculum coordinator. “We are always looking for opportunities to connect and collaborate with the community.”

The larger goal is to create the Benjamin Godfrey Legacy Trail, identifying historical landmarks tying Alton and Godfrey together. In addition to the book, Captain Benjamin Godfrey’s efforts in the 1800s are being documented and highlighted through multiple platforms: nine landmarks with historical markers, an informational brochure, a video documentary, and a self-guided auto-tour with accompanying smartphone access to an Audio/Video historical background.

Two other Seymour Bluffs books are currently being used in the local history curriculum, “Seymour Bluffs and the Piasa Bird” and “Seymour Bluffs and Robert Wadlow,” published in 2006 and 2007.

For more information contact Zeke Jabusch at (618) 779-9735 or the Genealogy & Local History Library, 401 State St., Alton, (618) 462-0677. For information about the trail project, go to

In photo top, Lexa Browning, teacher, with the students; and book author Phyllis Bechtold.

 – From the Illinois Business Journal

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