Photo by James Moss
Jason Bricker and Judy Richie have pored over dozens of sources in search of information for their book about the history of East Alton.
EAST ALTON | Since its establishment in 1893, the Village of East Alton has developed a fascinating history.
That became clear for Jason Bricker and Richard Chartrand when a display showcasing old pictures of East Alton came to the village’s city hall. After seeing the photos, Bricker and Chartrand decided to write a book capturing the history of East Alton.
“We did a display case over at city hall that kind of sparked everybody’s interest,” Bricker said.
Originally, Bricker and Chartrand were going to co-author the book, but Chartrand, who is the director of East Alton’s library, stepped down from helping with the book earlier this year. In April, Judy Richie, who retired from the Alton School District, picked up where Chartrand left off, helping Bricker as the book’s primary co-writer.
“It’s been really interesting,” Richie said. “I didn’t realize East Alton had such a rich heritage.”
Though the display case at city hall provided the impetus for the work, Bricker said he was also motivated by the lack of literature on his hometown.
“We’ve never really had a decent book,” he said. “We had one made during the centennial, but it wasn’t a very good one. It didn’t have hardly any pictures in it at all. So, we thought we better do it while the getting’s good.”
Bricker and Richie’s book will tell the history of East Alton through pictures. Bricker, who works for the St. Charles, Mo., school district, has been researching for this project for almost two years, a process made easier by a co-author.
“I think we each have our own strengths,” Richie said. “Jason is good at finding pictures and digging up information. Mine has been scanning pictures and getting captions under them and following up with information. It’s been quite a job.”
Their book, targeted at citizens of East Alton and history buffs, will not result in any money for the writers, either — Bricker and Richie have pledged to donate all royalties to the forthcoming East Alton History Museum, which both of them are helping to set up.
“Anything we make, the city is going to get to improve the museum,” Richie said.
Bricker and Richie have a December deadline to meet to get the book to their publisher, Arcadia Publishing. Once they submit it, the book should hit shelves within the next year. It will be sold at various businesses and at local sites like East Alton City Hall and the East Alton History Museum, once operational.
With their deadline looming, Bricker and Richie said they are still looking for help from residents and others with knowledge of the village’s history.
“We’re just looking for pictures,” Bricker said. “If anybody has anything out there, please (let us know).”
People who wish to contribute pictures to the project can call Bricker at 618-447-5007 or Richie at 618-604-5807.