From the Daily Leader
Oct. 15, 2016
By Luke Smucker
Within the past decade, there has been a resurgence in people’s interest in their own genealogy, as well as the history of the place where they live. Is the speed of technology moving too fast? Or have we, as a society, pushed so hard to get ahead that it made us long for what we left behind?
Dave Hornickel, a Germanville farmer and historian, recently gave a time capsule to the Baltz Library of Chatsworth Township for safe keeping. Inside the time capsule were documents ranging from the 1890s to the 1960s.
“Chatsworth had a cornerstone and they put a time capsule in it with things from 1941,” Al Freehill, a local attorney, who grew up in Germanville, recalls “The idea was that every 25 years they would reopen it. So, in 1966, they did. They held a big gathering and then they opened up the time capsule, took a look inside and eventually added to the time capsule before putting it away for another 25 years,” Freehill said. “Then, about 25 years later, they stopped using the town hall.”
Hornickel said, at the time, the plan was to tear the town hall down because it was going to cost a lot to repair. The plan was to build a new town hall in its place, but nothing ever happened. So, the time capsule was given to Hornickel’s family for safe keeping. After years and years of hanging onto this time capsule, Hornickel wanted to do something special with it. So, he asked Freehill what to do. “David came into my office several months ago and asked what he should do with this time capsule. My thought was to donate it to the library. So, we called up Mary and she was fine with it,” Freehill said. “The content of the capsule is mostly focused on Germanville.”
In addition to newspapers of the time, the time capsule contained minutes from old Germanville Club meetings and a guest book, as well as minutes from a Germanville Woman’s Club meeting. “There were more clubs back then than I realized,” Hornickel said. “We also found a picture that features the Germanville officials during 1966 and their names on the back. Someone also put in a document that lists all the teachers at the time and what they were paid, as well as a document with the names of all elected town officials that starts back in 1893. A lot of the old Chatsworth names are in there.” Library director Mary Fisher-Miller said the time capsule will eventually be on display with a lot of other local historic items, for Chatsworth’s sesquicentennial, next year.
“I don’t intend to bury it again,” she said. “I think we’ll store it in the safe and next year, all the glass cases will be on display with this material. It will also be available for anyone who wants to do research.”
This may be the end for the time capsule, but by donating it to the library, all involved hope it will be of use to people who may be doing genealogy research. They also hope that similar items will be donated by community members who may have local historic materials they no longer wish to hold on to.
“When I cleaned out my mother’s house, we were rushed for time, but now I think of all the things I threw away. If I had two more months, I would have preserved a lot of that. Things like letters my uncle had sent from overseas when he was in the war,” Fisher-Miller said. “What frustrates me the most about losing those letters, is that it’s such a lost past time. I remember how fun it was to get a letter out of the mailbox from my grandmother or somebody. Nobody really writes letters anymore. We’ve started to lose that art of communication, but time is cyclical and we’re going to come back and we’ll have this decade or two of lost stuff because we’re in such a hurry to move on to the next new thing.”
In addition to holding onto local historic artifacts, Fisher-Miller said the library is also in the process of raising money to digitize all the old issues of the Chatsworth Plaindealer newspaper. The goal is to put them on a CD that would allow people to search for specific terms or people and then get a listing of all articles that feature that name or keyword for viewing. “I think there has been a resurgence in people being interested in their history,” Fisher-Miller said. “All of a sudden people are really interested in their roots. They are really interested in embracing their heritage".