When you are flipping through a magazine at the doctor’s office what are you looking at? Pictures.
When you are digging through historical research, what is the treasure you pray you will find? A picture! People love pictures of things they know, like the school you used to attend or the swimming hole on Lake Lisgar that you and every kid on the block swam in.
Pictures really are worth a thousand words and a million memories. But what do you do with all the photos? That was the problem Matt Scholtz had. Gerald Elder, an avid photographer of life in Tillsonburg, donated a ton of photos to him. Because Matt was our librarian for decades, others would bring him photos they didn’t know what to do with.
After years watching people with books, loving the photographs in them, Matt realized the answer. He would put them in a book and call it: Tillsonburg Album; A Photographic History. Sounds pretty simple, doesn’t it?
But how to organize hundreds of photos? Which ones do you use? Perhaps not the ones already published in other books on Tillsonburg. That makes sense. After spreading out all the photos themes emerge. There are some great ones of the 1937 flood which emptied Lake Lisgar, Lake Joseph and divided our town into two. That makes a good chapter.
A wonderful way to see Tillsonburg grow and change is by aerial photographs and over the years there have been quite a few. That would make another good chapter.
Matt was on a roll now, busily grouping the photos by Postcards, Churches, Early Tillsonburg; Businesses, People, Downtown Tillsonburg, The Library, Tobacco, Schools, Theatre, the Scholtzs’ beloved Tillsonburg Youth Chorus with all those children, and various events the town as been involved in over the decades. There definitely should be something in it to interest anyone who has ever lived in town.
From the first article done by the Tillsonburg News a couple of months ago, people in town and from across North America have been in touch with Matt, giving information and more photos.
A gentleman in Venice, Florida, found in a garage sale, a very large photo of probably 100 men of Tillsonburg’s IOOF (Independent Order of Odd Fellows), in front of our old Town Hall! Alas, no names.
A former resident of Tillsonburg now living in Palm Desert California, contacted Matt on Facebook. His Dad ran a restaurant on the south west corner of Baldwin and Broadway in the 1940s and sent along a photo of his dad.
Matt received a photo of students at the old Tillsonburg High School (at Lake Lisgar) in 1945. Nice photo, but like too many others, it had no names. A little digging on Matt’s part tracked down Gene Walsh, here in town, who had the name of every person in that photo! That nice photo just turned into historical gold.
Consider the year 1945: how many of the boys in that picture went off to war and never came home?
Group shots of service clubs, churches, schools, clubs can be nice in the future, but often not worth saving, however if you take the time to name the people they are invaluable. Please put names on your old family photos as well so your great-grandchildren know who you are, otherwise these photos will probably get thrown out.
Matt at the library, Patty at the museum and I as historian have all been asked the same question over the years: who is John Pound? Why was the road named after him? Well, that took a long time to answer. Patty realized that all the roads leading out of town were named for where the road went, like Simcoe St, went to Simcoe. Well, a little digging and we found that John Pound Rd (originally Forge Rd.), headed towards Aylmer but pretty much stopped at… are you ready? John Pound’s farm! John and family were Mormons. Nice story, but the pot of gold at the end of this story is that Matt has a photo of John Pound! I can’t wait to see it!
Another person to be highlighted was property and business owner, horse racer, and former mayor, Charles Mabee. It is not the story of his life but rather his unusual death.
The problems with photographs, is that they are addictive. Once you realize how many wonderful pictures are out there, all telling a story about our town, you want more. Matt, is no exception, so if you have photos hanging in your church or of service clubs and events that are unique and of good quality and have names or good background shots of town building, let Matt know. It would be fantastic to get more photos of the interior or some of the stores that have served us over the centuries, of prominent citizens and events.
Rather than throwing out those old photos check with Matt or Patty at the museum first. You never know, you may have a picture of someone or some place in town we have been searching for, for years.
You can contact Matt at 519-842-5584 or become a friend on his Facebook page. He will even keep you up to date with how the book is going.
If all goes according to plan, Sportswood Printing in Straffordville should have the book hot off the press by next September or October. Just in time for a fantastic Christmas present for everyone you know!