By: Rebecca Miller
Richard Schmucker has lived in and loved his hometown of Pioneer, Ohio for his whole life. He was born on November 10, 1948, to Emerson and Laree Schmucker in the Wauseon Hospital.
His childhood home was where the old Coates Nursing Home was that burned down and he started out life with his five siblings.
He was the youngest and his oldest sibling was 21. They had moved down the street in the same neighborhood when he was about five or six.
He has such a love for all things Williams County, but it is even deeper for the Village of Pioneer.
He remembers going to auctions, when he was between twelve and fourteen years old, with the people who owned Coates Nursing Home, and they would loan him a quarter to buy old photos and he would then work it off at their house by mowing or taking out the garbage and other chores.
About the age of sixteen he bought his first souvenir plate of Pioneer and he “thought that was amazing!”
Even though Schmucker has hundreds of antique photographs, he does not consider himself an historian.
He says he just loves old photos and that somehow seeing them just thrills him. Recently he and his wife Lois shared some of those photos with Williams County Public Library historian Joni Smethurst.
“She was absolutely thrilled,” Lois said. “We do plan to donate all of the photos to the Historical portion of the library, someday,” Richard added.
There are pictures of every aspect of life in Williams County over the years with some of the photos being truly antique.
He was proud to show some glass slides, of which he has around 80, which he was getting ready to drop off at the historical section for someone to copy them all.
“We are concerned that if anything like a fire or something happened and the photos and slides were all lost, that would be awful.”
“This way, they are being stored digitally and will be safe for posterity,” Richard said.
Pictures of all of the surrounding towns are kept in photo albums, with one for each village. Besides Williams County villages he also has pictures of Fayette, Ohio and some towns in Michigan.
As Pioneer is so close to the border of Michigan, he remembers when all the kids who lived just north of Pioneer came to North Central schools until their state said they couldn’t anymore.
He also has many pictures of specific spots such as the Williams County Fairgrounds. Anyone who wants to step back in time can do so by browsing through his photos.
Schmuckers love of anything old caused him to set up shop at the local antique mall around 1988 and in 2002 he opened his own, Schmuckers Antique Shop.
“I am a history pack rat,” Richard said with a laugh. “My mom and my wife have been at me my whole life to stop making big messes around the house with my stuff.”
Lois laughed and shared how she had to tell him he needed to clean up all the photos that were spread all over the living room and dining room so she could decorate for Christmas.
This great collection of pictures will now be showing up some weeks in The Village Reporter as Richard Schmucker is thrilled to be asked to share them.
He is already posting them online on the Fayette and Pioneer Facebook pages and loves to have as many people enjoy them as possible.
Recently he found in his collection, some long cardboard pictures about which he is so “tickled” that he shared those for this article.
He is hoping that others will get “bitten by the history bug” and start saving things like he has so that history will not be lost.
Rebecca may be reached at email@example.com