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Unadilla Valley senior writes book to benefit historic landmark
When Unadilla Valley senior and Norwich resident Stefan Foster visited the Beardsley Cemetery in Oxford as a little boy, he heard a story that stuck with him his entire life.

From his parents and grandparents, he learned about the local legend of Little Merrit’s Tomb. When the 8-year-old boy – who was afraid of the dark – died of a fever in 1865, his father built him a tomb with a window, so the sun could shine in.

Stefan kept revisiting the story throughout his life, and when he found out the cemetery was subject to neglect and vandalism, he wanted to do something to clean it up.

“Last summer, I researched more about the history of Merrit and how you clean and restore a cemetery, so I helped restore his tomb,” he said. “I went to the town of Oxford and asked for help in replacing the window on the tomb. I also made a Facebook page to get people interested and they did, and they sent in donations.

I collected them and paid a business called ‘One Stone at a Time’ to come in and clean the tomb. Between that moment and now, I am a part of their business where we clean and restore gravestones.”

The book took about six months to write, Stefan said, and he worked with the town and other organizations to raise money for the printing. A local print shop then printed the book.

The book sells for about $20 (Stefan sold about 250 already) and all proceeds go into a town account to further restore the cemetery.

“It’s rewarding to know my mission to restore the cemetery is actually a reality and something that is going to happen.” he said. “There is still work that needs to be done. “
After graduation, Stefan plans to go to college and study preservation law.


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