BY JASON STARR
The story of Williston from the mid-1800s through the 20th century is told with scores of historic photographs and stories in a new book set for an Aug. 2 release.
“Williston — Images of America” is a project of the Williston Historical Society and Arcadia Publishing. It was researched and written by longtime Williston school teacher Richard Allen, who has penned numerous books on Vermont history, including a history of Williston Central School.
Allen is a member of the Williston Historical Society and a resident of Essex.
He and the Williston Historical Society put out a call last year to former and current residents for photos depicting life in Williston in the 19th and 20th centuries. About half of the 207 images published in the book come from resident submissions and local organizations such as the fire department and churches. The rest are from the historical society’s collection.
“I had done an informal inventory of the Williston Historical Society’s images just to get an idea if there was enough to get started with,” said Allen. “The idea was to share their collection with the town and beyond the town. Then we started getting the word out that we were looking for images from current residents and past residents … and things just started to come in. Sometime in the middle of the summer I finally said, ‘this is working. We are getting some good contributions.’”
Contributions were mailed or emailed to Allen and Williston Historical Society President Brenda Perkins. The historical society also set up a dropoff b o x at the Dorothy Alling Memorial Library. Allen researched www. newspapers.com for Williston stories and www.ancestry.com to learn about former residents.
“There are other books on Williston history, but this certainly is the first one with a main emphasis on images,” Allen said.
The images — and the descriptions Allen wrote to accompany them — are organized into eight sections, including the village, families and farms, recreation, celebrations and transportation. Each chapter has a written introduction.
The book cover came out this month. It features a photo taken in 1904 of Sanford Warren and members of his family in front of their house on North Williston Road. The house is still standing today.
“The house looks very much today as it did over 100 years ago,” Allen said.
Allen and the Williston Historical Society are setting up shop inside the old Stovepipe Corner Schoolhouse on the Village Green during this weekend’s Independence Day celebration to show historical slides and offer pre-orders of the book. Allen and members of the historical society will be on hand from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday — during and after the July Fourth parade — to discuss the book and the history of the schoolhouse.
“We hope to get some traffic from the parade-watchers,” Allen said.
Sales of the book will benefit the Williston Historical Society. The book will also be available at local book stores and online through Arcadia Publishing. Email Perkins, the historical society president, at email@example.com for more information.