CHICAGO (CBS) — Members of a Chicago church dedicated a plaque today in honor of Herman Schueneman captain of “The Christmas Tree Ship,” which, long ago, brought trees to Chicago and gave many to the poor, reports WBBM’s Mike Krauser.

Pastor Emeritus Tom Henry says Captain Herman Schueneman was a member and a part of Chicago history.

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“He became Captain Santa. There were many Christmas tree ship captains but he became Captain Santa because he really played the role,” said Henry.

Captain Dave Truitt heads the Christmas Tree Ship Committee which keeps the tradition alive today.

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“One of the first things he would do is take the biggest tree and with the kids from around here and he would carry the heavy end and kind of like the pied-piper, they would carry the tree to the church ,” said Truitt.

Captain Schueneman’s great granddaughter Barb Ehling had tears in her eyes.

“It is incredible. For the people of Chicago to recognize my great-grandfather with this tribute is awesome,” said Ehling.

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Scheunemann's grandson Dr. Bill Ehling and his great granddaughter Barb Ehling.

Scheunemann’s grandson Dr. Bill Ehling and his great granddaughter Barb Ehling.

Schueneman’s ship, the Rouse Simmons, went down off the coast of Wisconsin in 1912 laden with Christmas trees, the skeletons of which are still lashed to the deck.