BETHEL — In late June 2010, six Telstar Regional High School students, Asher Wilson, Errol Silver, Jean Lawrence, Rick Aguilar, Alexandria Crockett and Jean Lawrence, selected a summer history course sponsored through the Mahoosuc Kids Association to earn graduation credits.

It would not be any ordinary teacher-centered traditional history lecture course, but one where the students and the teachers, Jay Hanscom and Michelle Bouchard, would work together as “history detectives.” By recording the names on the gravestones of a small family cemetery in Greenwood and using a wide variety of skills and sources, the six students and two faculty assembled a wealth of information about the everyday activities of ordinary people.

In addition, they identified and learned a good deal about individuals who had lived through the American Revolution, fought in the Civil War, survived hardships and faced serious challenges. In some instances, specific information yielded to a focus on national and/or statewide events such as wars, economic turmoil, demographic and technological changes and life threatening epidemics.

Participants in the course consulted the resources of the Greenwood Historical Society and were greatly assisted in their quest for local information by extensive discussions with Blaine Mills. They also made wide use of the archival resources of the Bethel Historical Society, utilizing everything from census records to contemporary newspapers, among others, to shed light on the interconnectivity of the historical process.

A three-panel concentric display chart with photos and explanatory text was created by the students, providing insights into the research discoveries developed by the group. A color-coded kinship chart was also developed for those wishing to study the family relationships of the individuals buried in the cemetery. Both the panels and the kinship chart are currently on display at the Bethel Historical Society’s Mason House exhibit hall during regular hours, from 1 to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday, until Labor Day.

For more information about the society, call 824-2908, 800-824-2910 or e-mail [email protected]

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