A metro east community is working to preserve an important part of its history with the help of some high school students.

Business leaders in Alton and Godfrey recently launched the Benjamin Godfrey Legacy Trails Project. Godfrey, who was a sea captain in the early 1800s, eventually settled in the Alton and Godfrey area and helped establish the community. Godfrey helped build a business, a railroad, a church, a seminary, and more.

READ MORE ABOUT THE PROJECT: http://www.northaltongodfreybc.com/b.-godfrey-trail.html

“It’s our desire to bring that story forward, so that it can be preserved, so people can be aware of what he’s done and that we can be proud of that,” said Zeke Jabusch, with the North Alton-Godfrey Business Council, which is behind the project.

The group plans to eventually place markers at different sites around the community that are important to Godfrey’s history, but they wanted to publish a book about him.

Students in Alton High School's Graphic Design Class helped illustrate a book about Benjamin Godfrey.

Local author, Phyllis Bechtold, and Hayner Library Historian and Genealogist, Lacy McDonald, teamed up to write a children’s book. Bechtold already had a series of children’s books featuring the character Seymour Bluffs, a bald eagle. Her latest book is titled Seymour Bluffs and Benjamin Godfrey.

“It was an opportunity for me to give back the community what they’ve given me and supported me over the years,” Bechtold said.

The team behind the book recruited a group of students in Alton High School’s graphic design class to help illustrate the book.

“Well it was kind of a surprise to all of us really,” remembered Alton senior, Tristan Wuellner. “We’d never been approached before and this gave us a chance to spread out our artistic talents.”

Tristan and another student, Julianna Fair, helped design the characters in the book. The others students, Austin Curvey, Shaw Baer, Anna Summers, Jake Ebelen, and Chance Stice helped with the scene backgrounds and the virtual reality portion of the book. The work required research.

“We went out to the bluffs and tried to get big landscape shots of things you wouldn’t normally see like the river and as many trees as we could just to get the colors to pop,” Curvey explained.

Profits from the book will benefit the Benjamin Godfrey Legacy Trails project. It will also be included in the curriculum for elementary students in Alton next year.

“I learned a lot from this book. So as I was making it, or helping design some of the pictures, I imagined some of the kids reading it too,” Stice said.

Bechtold said working with the student was a positive experience.

“It’s been a good experience for them. They’re very well versed students and just really smart, great kids.”

The book was published by a local company: Abbey Inc. Graphic Design & Support Services. Everyone involved will participate in two book signings.

The first is an open house on May 18 at Abbey Inc. on Godfrey Road, which coincides with the business’s 20th anniversary celebration.

The second book signing is May 20 at Hayner Library in Alton.