NORWICH — The second book about Little Merrit’s Tomb is now available. After a decade of work to repair Little Merrit’s Tomb, Stefan Foster will be hosting a book signing at Guernsey Library on Sunday, May 7 from 2 to 3:30 p.m.
Books will be available for sale locally after this event at the following locations: Bartles Pharmacy in Oxford, A Little Herbal Shoppe in Norwich, the Chenango County Historical Society CCHS Gift Shop in Norwich, the Masonville General Store, or directly from the publisher (Stefan) at revivetheambience.com.
Check out the story and the work to preserve Little Merrit’s Tomb on the Little Merrit's Tomb Facebook page.
Merrit Beardsley was an eight-year-old boy who was dying of a fever in 1865. His fear of the dark prompted his father to promise him he would not be in the dark. Merrit’s father, William, was a stone mason and built a special grave with a window so the light would always shine into the above-ground tomb.
It was several years ago that Stefan Foster contacted me to ask about Little Merrit's Tomb. Due to the vandalism that had been done at the grave site and newspaper reporters who wanted a ghost story for Halloween, I was hesitant to work with him. I did agree to a meeting with Stefan to find out what his intentions were with regards to the tomb.
Stefan presented himself and all his good intentions to preserving Little Merrit Beardsley's tomb, and I was thrilled to support his project. Stefan shared stories about his childhood going to the little boy's grave with his grandmother, brother, and parents. I could see he truly cared about Little Merrit.
When Stefan's first book came out, I wrote an article about him and Little Merrit's Tomb to promote his work. All the proceeds from the sale of the book went to preserving the site, but more importantly, it told the story of a little boy afraid of the dark and how his father promised him he would not be buried in the dark.
Those who damaged the grave site are gone now and educating people to respect the grave and who is buried there was a big part of why Stefan wrote the book.
Preservation was the next step and he has accomplished that as well. A New York State Historical Marker was placed on the cemetery site, and new special glass has replaced the broken window. The tomb was straightened and cleaned up with flowers planted around the graves of Little Merrit, his parents, and siblings.
The image is of Stefan as a teenager when he first started working at the grave site. I am so proud of his work then and now. It's not every day you find a young man who is so dedicated to go as far as Stefan did, showing his love for an 8-year-old boy he never met.
-by Vicky House, Oxford Town/Village Historian