PREBLE COUNTY — The Preble County Historical Society is now in the early stages of a major digitization project.
This project will begin to scan, and take photographs of all textiles, objects, documents, photographs, slides, news clippings, etc. These items will then be stored in an online digital software that will eventually be available to the public to search and view the complete collection.
By doing so, the PCHS has come across items with very little information given. It is our job to now dig deep, ask questions and locate folks who might have those answers.
Scott Truncleman, history enthusiast, noticed an old steam engine in the PCHS exhibit hall and started asking questions. The PCHS didn’t have much information other than it had been donated in 2005 by the Schmidt family.
Scott then reached out to Joseph “Joe” Kramer, who is a machinist and has a vast knowledge of big engines and traction engines. Joe knew right away that this train in the collection was built by Karl Fredrick “Fred” Schmidt of Camden, Ohio. He was the owner/operator of the Camden Radio & TV in Camden for 40 years, a 1940 Eaton High School graduate and had attended Miami University in Oxford, a WWII U.S. Army veteran and had been a licensed airplane pilot for 50 years.
“Fred worked many long hours on this steam engine,” Joe said. “He was a collector. He drove a Volvo and was always tinkering.”
“We are grateful to Scott & Joe for sharing this story that goes with this train we have here in our possession,” Director Lisa White said. “It is exciting to know that we will continue to learn more and more about the people of Preble County.”
The PCHS would like to thank Brittany Corwin, Abbi Tuttle and Hannah Schneider for their continued work on this project. The Schmidt Train will be on exhibit during the Fall Gathering and History Celebration on Sept. 25 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the farm.