The Codington County Historical Society has a long history of publishing local history books, but it latest offering is unique.
It’s a novel written for young people.
“The Mystery at the Old Church,” written by Watertown historian Lois Hart, is an adventure story featuring the fictitious Gingerbread Gang. The gang is a group of young teen and preteen girls in Watertown in 1954 who try to solve a crime that occurred at the United Methodist Church.
Hart drew on her memories from her childhood in Watertown and uses historic buildings in town as the backdrop for the story.
While the story is intended for young people, adults on the staff of the Codington County Heritage Museum read and enjoyed the book.
“I couldn’t put it down,” said Christy Lickei, director of the museum. “It’s a real page-turner. Kids will definitely love it, but anyone who grew up in Watertown will enjoy the memories that the book stirs up.”
Hart wrote the book last winter at the suggesting of her sister, Jane Miner. Miner is also a Watertown history buff who is working on the second book in a series on historic buildings in downtown Watertown.
“About a year ago, she suggested I write a book for the museum, aimed at young readers and combining some history and geography of the town, so I decided to try,” Hart said.
While the story came from Hart’s imagination, the setting is real. She drew from her own memories growing up in Watertown in the 1950s, “before computers, TV and video games,” she said.
“When I was that age, I liked mysteries. I hope today’s kids agree.”
The book includes an application for young readers to fill out and instructions to become honorary members of the Gingerbread Gang.
Copies of the book are on sale now at the Codington County Heritage Museum gift shop for just $8. A book signing with the author is planned for Friday, September 13, at DDR Bookstore from noon until 2:00 p.m.