March of Progress in Brown County, Kansas

From horse power to steam powered engines to gas tractors, agricultural development was seen first hand in Brown County, Kansas

This Russell engine and separator required quite a crew

This Russell engine and separator required quite a crew: an engineer, a separator man, water wagon man, and the field crew, who hauled and pitched bundles in the field, and at least two grain handlers.

Submitted photo

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While still teenagers, brothers Fred and John Mellenbruch purchased and operated a horse-powered thresher in Brown County, Kansas. A few steam-powered engines were showing up, and probably the horse-powered unit was reasonably priced. Eight teams of horses – working in two-hour rotations – provided power. The brothers started in summer threshing from shocked grain in the field, and finished in late fall, threshing from stacked grain.










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