BALDWIN — Almost 50 people showed up to a presentation about the Robert Smith family, given by Debbie Oleson Smith, during the Lake County Historical Society meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 9, at the Baldwin Business Center.

Tables of old photos and Smith family memorabilia were available for viewing along with military uniforms and artifacts collected from the service of Robert J. Smith in World War I and Robert S. Smith in World War II.

Smith said her dad, Robert S. Smith, seldom talked about the things he went through during WWII. He was in China during the end of the war and traveled to Hong Kong. He even shook hands with the president of China, Chiang Kai-shek. Smith brought back ivory carvings and other interesting items from his travels in China.

Smith compared the recent major election to elections back in older times. She recalled her dad giving people rides to the polls, even if they didn’t vote the way he was voting. She said back then people weren’t as likely to take other’s votes or opinions so personally. People weren’t looked down upon because of a different view.

Smith said how her dad was proud of the diversity in Baldwin and all of his friends of different ethnic, racial and religious backgrounds who he learned so much from.

She finished the presentation with a brief history of the Lake Osceola State Bank. Originally starting in Baldwin, when the bank merged with Luther, and then a branch in Tustin in 1963, the name came to be the Lake Osceola State bank. Of the 108 years of service to the Baldwin community, the bank stayed in the Smith family, starting with her grandfather Robert J. Smith; her father Robert S. Smith; her uncle Curtis L. Smith and now herself serving as president. 

As the program closed, Jill Engelmen, curator of the Lake County Historical Museum, publicly thanked the Smith family for generous donations of historical material from the Smith family to the museum.

Bruce Micinski, president of the Lake County Historical Society, said they are always looking for families to feature in the Family Portrait Series or ideas for other historical themed programs.