The Historical Society of St. Marys and Benzinger Township is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, and during the organizationâ€™s 48th annual banquet on Sunday night, members paid tribute to the societyâ€™s founder, Charles "Charlie" Schaut. The event marked the 129th anniversary of Schautâ€™s birth.
Bill Conrad, banquet emcee, said Schaut provided an invaluable contribution to area residents.
â€śWithout Charlie, there wouldnâ€™t be a society as we know it today,â€ť Conrad said. â€śI shouldnâ€™t say there wouldnâ€™t be, but Charlie was the catalyst who brought everything together. Would somebody else have done it? Maybe so, but Charlie had some unique qualities that allowed him to bring this society together in ways that others probably could not have.â€ť
In particular, Conrad noted that Schaut was born when the community was only 39 years old. Putting that into context, he explained that Schaut had the fortune of growing up knowing many of the communityâ€™s founding fathers.
â€śHe knew the people who came first. His family was part of that movement,â€ť Conrad said.
He added that 50 years ago, when Schaut first started the historical society, it would have been difficult to find another individual with a similar background. At the time the society was founded, Schaut was 78 years old.
For more on this story, see the Dec. 6 edition of The Daily Press.