- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 3, 2015

LOGANSPORT, Ind. (AP) - Cass County’s new authority on local history has only been living in the area for a little more than a year, but his admiration for it spans back more than four decades.

Mike Stajduhar married his wife, Sarah, a Logansport native, toward the end of his undergraduate education in Missouri.

“I’ve always loved Logansport,” he said. “In 1972, I fell in love with a woman and I fell in love with her hometown as well.”

After Stajduhar graduated from law school, the couple lived in West Virginia for almost 40 years, where they raised their four children before retiring to Logansport in 2013.

It will be a retirement filled with one of favorite his pastimes - studying the past - as he settles into his new role of Cass County historian after his predecessor stepped down following a 13-year run.

Stajduhar is now responsible for coordinating all of the historical resources in the county, which include the historical society’s archives and museum on East Market Street in Logansport. He’ll also be using his knowledge and capabilities to assist the public with historical inquiries.

“If people have local questions of history, the role of the county historian will be to direct them to the proper resources,” he told the Pharos-Tribune (http://bit.ly/1D9dZI7 ).

One project Stajduhar wants to take on is working to determine the significance of any potential historical sites.

“I’m going to solicit ideas from the public on that in terms of historical markers and landmarks that need to be revisited,” he said.

Stajduhar said he is drawn to the county’s past for its economic history providing what he described as “a sense of broader themes rather than merely a bunch of famous people and certain events.”

Making up that economic history, he continued, are industries like rail, manufacturing and agriculture, the latter of which Stajduhar added brought settlers to the area in the first place.

When Richard Copeland resigned as Cass County historian after holding the post since 2002, the Cass County Historical Society set out to facilitate the replacement. The Indiana Historical Society and the Indiana Historical Bureau chose Stajduhar, who is also treasurer for the local historical society board, to take over the volunteer position.

“I thought it’d be a good opportunity to get further involved,” Stajduhar said.

The new job contributes to what Stajduhar calls “a lifelong interest in history.” He received a bachelor’s degree in the subject at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri, before attending Duke University School of Law in Durham, North Carolina.

“It’s something that gives me great enjoyment to read about,” Stajduhar said of history. “It gives perspective on life. You don’t get caught up on day-to-day things if you can look at the big picture.”

Stajduhar spends part of his time studying the different cultural backgrounds present locally since the first Cass County census in 1830 for a book he’s working on about the ethnic history of the area.

“He’s certainly very, very much interested in history,” said Thelma Conrad, executive director of the Cass County Historical Society. “He’s certainly willing to put forth the effort to learn as he goes.”

Copeland, who turns 83 in March, said neither his mind nor his memory are as sharp as they were when he became county historian.

“I think one needs to look at oneself and say, ‘Look, you have to look at yourself and know when it’s time to cease doing something,’” he said.

His term provided scores of fond memories, he continued, like receiving letters from the descendants of people he wrote about thanking him for telling stories not even they knew of.

Copeland said he will remain active at All Saints Church in Logansport, talking to students at the Logansport Juvenile Correctional Facility, hosting his radio program, gardening and traveling.

“I’m going to miss him,” Conrad said. “He has been sort of my mentor, historically speaking. I really bounced a lot of ideas off of Richard. I researched right along Richard on a few items, on a few topics. He was always my go-to guy.”

He won’t be going too far. Copeland remains a member of the Cass County Historical Society Board and will be helping Stajduhar familiarize himself with the duties of county historian.

“I think he’ll do absolutely fine,” Copeland said of Stajduhar.

Conrad agreed.

“I have every confidence Mike will do the very best of his ability to follow in Richard’s footsteps.”

___

Information from: Pharos-Tribune, http://www.pharostribune.com

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