Volunteer Spirit: McDaniel says it’s important for all to preserve history

Todd McDaniel

By Philip Case

Contributing writer

Todd McDaniel is a bit unusual for a volunteer.

He’s 38 and works a full-time job. McDaniel and his wife, Bekah, are the parents of an active 5-year-old son, William. In short, he leads a full life.

While McDaniel doesn’t have a lot of hours he can devote to his volunteer passion — assisting at Capital City Museum, 325 Ann St. — he’s willing to give what he can, that giving growing from his love of history.

A lifelong Frankfort resident, McDaniel grew up in the history-rich Forks of Elkhorn area. He’s a graduate of Franklin County High School and Georgetown College, where he received a degree in environmental science. And, while he’s not an engineer, he works for an engineering firm —HMB Professional Engineers — conducting environmental surveys.

“I became interested in the Capital City Museum after exchanging some information with Russ Hatter,” he said. “I loaned the museum some of the items from our house where my grandfather lived.

“I went to the museum and asked if there were things I could help with, telling Russ and curator John Downs that I didn’t have much time, but I would do what I could.”

Downs and Hatter were delighted to have his assistance even though he can’t come in on a regular basis.

“Everyone is nice,” McDaniel said. “I try to go down there on Friday afternoons when I’m off work, but my son has found out that can be a play day!”

McDaniel believes it’s important for people of all ages to be involved in preserving history.

“People need to share what they know,” he said. “Sometimes we’re able to fill in gaps – and sometimes others can fill in gaps and questions we may have.”

He’s interested in any history that has to do with Frankfort and Franklin County, particularly the Forks of Elkhorn area. McDaniel even becomes a little emotional talking about his roots that go generations deep in that area of the county.

“Russ has helped me find out a lot about my family,” he said. “I feel like maybe I can give back a little by helping.”

McDaniel talked about filling in the “gaps” in the history of places and individuals as well as saying it’s important for all to be involved in that — no matter their age.

“There can be a big gap when someone retires, moves away – or dies,” he said. “A part of history can be lost then and it may be hard, if not impossible, to recover.

“You look at a place and think ‘what was there’ or ‘who lived there?’ If you can’t find those who know the answers, then those answers are lost.”

Conducting environmental-impact studies across the state, McDaniel likes traveling to other towns and listening to people talk about the history of the place or the people.

“Everyone has a story and they don’t mind sharing it. My work heightened my interest in history,” he said.

It was his story that took him to the museum — and his love of the history of all things Frankfort and Franklin County that got him involved. He encouraged people to become involved in preserving and shared history. 

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