After reading the recent A-T account of the Bettsville-Old Fort School merger (July 12 edition), well done. I wanted to share with readers interested in history an untitled book, written by a former Bettsville superintendent, John E. Durrett, copyright 1984. It includes also: the founding of Bettsville, railroads, road-building, businesses, churches, fire department, post offices, settling families, doctors, Basic Inc., (also its H.P. Eells Park), cemeteries, schools and, yes, newspapers!
Having some past journalistic experience, I realize writers are limited on time and space and are not hired to write history books. I offer Durrett’s compilation, complete with many photographs, for reading. It is available at the Bettsville Public Library (call: (419) 986-5198) whose board published it with Durrett. It covers the pre-settlement era before John Betts founded the village in 1838, and goes as far as 1972.
Durrett fails to mention anywhere in his writing that he was principal and teacher at Bettsville High School in 1931. Also, he coached a 1929 champion basketball team at BHS. From 1935-1942, he became superintendent and continued teaching there, as was common for principals and superintendents to do “back then.”
This book was a most valuable asset to me when I became chairwoman of Bettsville’s 1988 Sesquicentennial celebration during which I wrote, produced and directed a historical, musical pageant, “Beat of the Heartland,” which was performed after a three-day blowout at the Eells Park July 4, 1988. Fifty of Bettsville’s 800 residents sang, danced and gave factual info based on the history in Durrett’s book. The whole weekend brought in thousands of people, seven hot-air balloons, athletic events, all kinds of foods, musical entertainment, and square and round dancing.
The memories have lingered on and on in the minds of those who attended. The fireworks on that Fourth of July night displayed the colorful Uncle Sam hot-air balloon over the quarry water, a picture forever captivating your mind. It was a true community effort by many Bettsville-ites!
Margaret Klopp Pope,