Biographies of 140 WWI veterans published in “Greene-Dreher in the Great War” 

By Lyle T. Galloway
via the River Reporter newspaper (NY) web site 

HONESDALE, PA — Bethel School may have closed decades ago, but there has been no shortage of learning there. Many tours, spelling bees, lectures and other special events have been conducted in the tiny building. On Sunday, July 11 Bethel School held an open house and a lecture.

About Bethel School

Bethel School was built in 1870. Despite some minor renovations to the stairs and other parts of the outside of the building, the interior looks relatively unchanged. A large blackboard is at the front of the room, a pull-down wall map from 1897 hangs above it, too fragile with age to be fully displayed. Rows of wooden desks are placed all over the room, topped with vintage books in all kinds of subjects from American History to Basic Arithmetic.

Before the school’s closure in 1951, it saw 31 different teachers, with Mary Agnes McCarthy being the last. She taught from 1946 to 1951.

Lennon's book on the local heroes of World War I. For some, the small, central room was home to many happy memories. “I went to school here and enjoyed every minute of it... Across the road was an apple orchard, and if you felt like eating your lunch in the apple orchard, that’s what you did,” said Dorothy Kieff, former student at Bethel School and member of the Wayne County Historical Society.

She remembered wading in the nearby brook, playing marbles in the middle of the dirt road and playing “Haley Over” with the other children.

Kieff attended during the school’s final years. She recalled that there were 21 kids in her class. It comprised kids across different grade levels. Classes were called up in order to the front of the room to present their work. Afterward, the next group was called and others did individual work. 

“If you were stuck on something, there was always an older kid to ask, or if you were one of the older kids, there was always a kid to help. I always said that was cooperative learning at its best,” said Kieff.

‘The army within the Army’

The old wooden desks were occupied with those eager to learn something new once again as local historian Bernadine Lennon presented a lecture entitled “The Army within the Army.” The lecture focused on the volunteers and other unsung heroes that kept the American armies fighting.

Lennon is part of the Greene-Dreher Historical Society. In 2016, the group wanted to take on a project related to WWI as America’s centennial anniversary of joining the war was approaching.

Lennon visited local cemeteries, taking note of gravesites with flags. The project grew from there. By the time research was completed in 2019, the biographies of 140 local WWI veterans were published in Lennon’s book “Greene-Dreher in the Great War.” Three more were discovered after the book’s publishing.

Read the entire article on the River Reporter web site here:


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