Interview with Joe Dunkle. Role: Historical researcher and lecturer

Last updated: July 20. 2014 6:22PM - 646 Views
By Rosanne Bowman TLNinfo@civitasmedia.com

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1. How did you get into historical research?

I’ve always had a love of history. I was a journalist as a broadcaster for the U.S. army. The next thing I knew I’d see an old building or a name in the cemetery and that would get the ball rolling. The next thing I knew I was researching who that person was or what happened in that building. It just leads to so many wonderful questions that need answers.

2. Do you research a specific time period?

Really, it’s whatever catches my fancy. I can go into any time period. I have no preference. It’s all interesting and it’s all interwoven.

3. Where do you find your information?

The inspiration comes from various sources. I’ll just be driving around town or I’ll have a conversation with an older person and then I’ll follow up on that. It can be a name on a building or a gravestone. Anything can really get the ball rolling. I lectured on Ben Faurot and very few people knew the story of how he built a dam over the Ottawa River. The impact of that on the community was big. The more I dug, the more I found out.

4. What’s the most challenging part?

I would say the time involved. When I do lectures or research projects people don’t realize the behind-the-scenes time involved. Sometimes, I have to travel to museums in other counties. The Faurot dam project took almost two years. I gave a 25-minute lecture that took two years to build. People think, “Oh that’s nice,” but they don’t realize how much time is involved.

5. What’s your favorite part?

I’d have to say the groundwork of going to an actual site. I found the dam site through photographs and then just going and eyeballing it. A project I did took me to Upper Sandusky, Seneca County. It sends chills down my spine when you realize the gravity of an occurrence or event.

6. What do you lecture on? Do you have some specific talks?

It’s on demand. I have my name out there. WLIO has been very kind to interview me. I’ve taken ads in The Lima News and other local papers. It’s word of mouth. I work with the chamber of commerce. I also speak at places like the Rotary Club. From time to time, those places will call me if they need a lecturer. I am building my repertoire, and I have three historical lecturers available. I have a new one now I’m working on entitled the “Stop Over Pig.” An oil scraper came through Lima in 1959. In it, there was a microfilm with a message from the Texas governor to the governor in Pennsylvania. It traveled completely underground. My father worked for the Buckeye Pipe Line — it travelled through the pipeline — and his job was to escort it from Lima to Titusville, Pennsylvania. I got to go with my father on that trip. I was very excited. I think I was about 14 at the time. I still have the thermometer well in my possession. It was a cylinder that screws into the back of the oil scraper. You would put a thermometer in there to detect hot spots. Instead of a thermometer though, there was the microfilm.

7. How often do you lecture?

I would say maybe six to seven times a year if the usual crowd stumbles in.

8. How do people get a hold of you to have you lecture?

They can call me at 419-234-6603. I do lectures, but I also do tours of Woodlawn Cemetery, and upon request, I also do family historical research. I don’t do genealogy — I subcontract that genealogy portion out — but I will research a particular person. I’ll find the grave, take photos and investigate that person. It’s very rewarding because you almost feel like you are part of the family.

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