A DEFENSE OF Advance Thresher Company

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A reprint of an article that appeared in September/October 1956 IMA, written by Marcus Leonard of Salina, Kansas, reprinted at the request of James W. Russell, 125 E 600th Avenue, Oblong, Illinois 62449.

Much has been written, which confounded Advance Thresher Company with the M. Rumely Company organized by Dr. Rumely, the Rumely Products Company and the Advance-Rumely Company.

Advance Thresher Company was one of the most highly rated thresher companies, because Advance machinery was popular and the company had been under good management. Dr. Rumely, for those reasons, paid what was thought to be a prohibitive price for Advance Thresher Company.

Advance Thresher Company has been unknown to the business world, since December 22, 1911. The men who founded that company and the ones under whose management it prospered and grew to be one of the greatest thresher companies, have passed on, leaving but a few of the employees to defend the good name of the 'Grand Old Company.'

For reasons known only to the Maker of the universe, I have been permitted to remain and having been employed by Advance Thresher Company nine years, knowing that company as but few now living knew it, I have come to defend Advance Thresher Company against misstatements which have connected that company with the M. Rumely Company organized by Dr. Rumely and all other later Rumely companies.

In my defense, I have written about the 30-60 Oil Pull, because the development of that tractor, brought about the expansion of M. Rumely Company and about Dr. Rumely, who conceived the plan of expansion and successfully put it into operation.

I have been blessed with a good memory and drawn from it but it is not infallible. Highly reliable information was obtained from the Farm Implement News, Secretary of State of Indiana and Court House records.

M. Rumely Company had developed and so thoroughly tested the 30-60 Oil Pull by 1910, it was considered a huge success. Great possibilities were seen for it, because of the low operating cost as compared to the steam engine. That it would replace the steam engine, as a threshing power, was a foregone conclusion, which would create a great demand for tractors and increase the demand for separators and other machinery.

M. Rumely Company had built about 6,000 engines and 8,000 separators, when it quit business in December 1911, Advance Thresher Company had built 22,000 separators from 1880 and 13,000 engines from 1884 until December 1911 and Gaar Scott & Company, an older company, had built about 16,000 engines and 24,000 separators, until the same time.

M. Rumely Company considered every farmer a potential buyer of a tractor and with the greatly increased demand for tractors and other machinery, it would have been impossible to supply the anticipated demand. The only way to satisfy the demand would be to increase production and, to do that, it would be necessary to increase the capacity of the factory, which would require greater capital.

The Rumely family was devout Catholic. In many families of that faith, one son is prepared for priesthood. It had been the most ardent hopes of Mrs. Meinard Rumely, the grandmother, that one of their sons enter priesthood but all of them chose business careers and were highly successful.

Edward Rumely, grandson of Meinard Rumely, founder of M. Rumely Company, who was considered one of the great men in the threshing machine industry, was to be prepared for the priesthood.

Edward Rumely went to one of the great universities of Europe to finish his work, returned with a doctor's degree and a dream of high finance but evidently with something he had not been taught and a trait he had not inherited from the Rumely family. 'Dr. Rumely married a woman of a different faith,' lost his interest in the saving of men's souls, gained control of M. Rumely Company, and proceeded with his vast plan of expansion. Dr. Rumely considered time important. His plan was to buy other companies. The employees would be trained, sales organizations complete and factories in production. The other companies could build the machinery to satisfy the increased demand, some of the business of the other companies would go with them and their prestige would be an asset. The ultimate plan was to build nothing but Rumely machinery.

Dr. Rumely could have purchased companies, other than Advance Thresher Company and Gaar-Scott & Company, at much lower prices but it was not price with him. Both factories were fairly modern and in good condition. Both companies had enjoyed good business, were in good financial condition, their machinery was fairly popular and their prestige great.

It was reported neither Advance Thresher Company nor Gaar-Scott & Company had been for sale and the prices were quoted so high, they did not think Dr. Rumely could or would buy them, but price did not stop him and he bought both. Advance Thresher Company stock sold at 282 and it was reported Gaar-Scott & Company stock sold at 252.

Others than Dr. Rumely had attempted to consolidate thresher companies and failed, and it was not thought he would succeed, but regardless of what since has happened, it cannot obscure the fact that Dr. Rumely accomplished the almost unbelievable.

Quote from the Farm Implement News of Chicago, 'In our December 11, 1911 issue, we reported, M. Rumely Company, LaPorte, Indiana had increased its capital to $22,000,000 and had purchased the Advance Thresher Company and the Gaar-Scott & Company.' The combined earnings of the three companies for the four previous years were stated to be $910,000.

The transaction involved Advance Thresher Company, Gaar-Scott & Company, and M. Rumely Company and was a sale, as reported by the Farm Implement News. Statements the three companies or any others, merged to form Rumely Products Company or M. Rumely, designated from here, the Dr. Rumely Company, were not correct. Rumely Products Company was incorporated later and Advance-Rumely Company was not incorporated until December 14, 1915, making it impossible for those companies to have been a part of the transaction. The Dr. Rumely Company bought the Northwest Thresher Company early in 1912.

'A merger is the combining of the interests of two or more corporations, under one of them, as a head.' It is safe to assume, had Gaar-Scott & Company and Advance Thresher Company have had anything to do with the management of the Dr. Rumely Company, and they would have had, had it been a merger, the company would not have been in bankruptcy in three years.

It was part of the agreement that the Dr. Rumely Company would take over the employees of the three companies, employed by them, at the time the transaction was completed, provided the employee wished to remain.

The employees of the three companies were called to their branches. I was at the Kansas City Branch of the Advance Thresher Company, December 22, 1911 and about 4:00 p.m., hundreds of others and I, received telegrams which informed us, the Dr. Rumely Company with a capital of $22,500,000 had taken over and at that moment, the sun set forever on the Meinard Rumely Company, the friendly Gaar-Scott & Company and the grand old Advance Thresher Company.

The Dr. Rumely Company painted a glowing picture for the future of what then was the largest farm implement company. A few of the former employees of the old companies quit. Their judgments proved the better.

I sold Advance machinery on my old Block from December 22, 1911 until July 4, 19x2, for that company, for which I ever since have been sorry. On July 4, 1912, that great day, I stepped into the telegraph office at Hays, Kansas and wired my resignation. Whatever the intentions of that company may have been, it did not finish the job.

The Dr. Rumely Company was not thrown into bankruptcy later by misdeeds of mine. Included in the Advance machinery I sold, were two Advance 21 HP compound rear mounted engines, numbers 13222 and 13224.

The Dr. Rumely Company, when it took over at Kansas City, removed none of the managers but appointed the Gaar-Scott & Company manager over the Advance Thresher Company manager and the M. Rumely Company manager. Each had been with his company many years.

No 'star gazer' was needed to predict the future. The selling season at the Kansas City branch was over when I went there to check out. The employees taken over had served their purpose, were not needed, and the company could employ men of its own choosing for 1913. I was with my former Advance Thresher Company manager a few minutes at the branch. We had not been close during the six years I had worked under him but I thought I saw what was coming, felt sorry for him, told him bluntly if he didn't get out he would be let out. He looked up at me and said in his soft voice, 'Do you think so?' I said yes and within a short time the managers of the Advance and Rumely lines went, with hundreds of others.

The $22,500,000 Dr. Rumely Company built the Rumely machinery from December 22, 1911 until January 19, 1915.

M. Rumely nameplates were put on smokeboxes of the Advance engines, on hand, when taken over by the Dr. Rumely Company. The Henry Bakehouse Advance 16 HP engine No. 13095, exhibited at Mt. Pleasant in 1954, had the name-plate. Howard Blenkenforth, Lyn-den, Washington, has Advance 12 HP engine No. 13791. M. Rumely is cast on the smokebox ring, which indicates the engine was built by the Dr. Rumely Company. Both engines, when new, were sold by Rumely Products Company.

Quote from a report of the Secretary of State of Indiana, dated January 24, 1956: 'Rumely Products Company--a New York corporation, admitted to do business in this State February 29, 1912.' Rumely Products Company was the selling company for the products built by the Dr. Rumely Company.

Chattel mortgages covering the machinery built by the Dr. Rumely Company were recorded under the name of the Rumely Products Company and the first chattel mortgage for that company was filed in Saline County, Kansas, July 1, 1912, and it was --J. J. Hudson to Rumely Products Company--one Rumely Ideal 40-64 separator No. 9348. The second mortgage recorded was on July 5, 1912 and read W. A. Johnson to Rumely Products Company--one Advance 21 HP engine No. 13224. Those recorded mortgages are indisputable evidence that company did business in Saline County, Kansas at that time and indicated it was doing business at other places.

The buyer of a Nichols & Shepard, an Avery, a Gaar-Scott, an Advance, or a Rumely engine, prior to 1912, bought it from the company that built it and not from a financially weak company selling it.

The Dr. Rumely Company built three good lines of machinery and under good management, either of them, probably would have lived until the end of the thresher business but Dr. Rumely was not a Meinard Rumely nor any of the other men under whose guidance those companies prospered and became great.

Avery, Wood Bros., M. Rumely, Aultman-Taylor, Nichols & Shepard, Russell, Frick, Geiser, Gaar-Scott and others were good companies, because the officials were honorable and worthy of any man's confidence. None of those men would have suffered in comparison with A. W. Wright, S.O. Bush, B. F. Skinner, and M. Lefever of the Advance Thresher Company but all would have suffered, when compared with Dr. Rumely. The Dr. Rumely Company lived three years, 27 days, was what he made it and was less worthy than the least worthy, in the list.

It was reported Morgan & Company received $2,000,000 for financing the transaction and the Dr. Rumely Company received its first financial reverse when Wm. N. Rumely and a sister refused to go with the company, demanded and were paid $2,000,000 for their holdings.

It probably was not longer than two years after the organization of the Dr. Rumely Company, that Dr. Rumely was replaced by Mr. Funk of the International Harvester Company, but the Dr. Rumely Company was headed for a receivership and Mr. Funk did not prevent its going there.

Quote from the Farm Implement News, under the date of January 10, 1956: 'The M. Rumely Company was thrown into bankruptcy January 19, 1915 and a federal judge of Indianapolis appointed Finley P. Mount, an attorney, as receiver, who had liquidated the Dr. Rumely Company December 14, 1915. Advance Thresher Company was in no way a part of that company. Advance Thresher Company stockholders may have invested in the Dr. Rumely Company and if they did, their investments, with others, were washed away in that whirlpool of corruption.

Dr. Rumely possessed a brilliant mind but evidently a great weakness. A strong man would not have done so great a wrong and for that reason, the world, probably, should look with compassion upon him.

Quote from the Secretary of State of Indiana, dated January 24, 1956: 'Advance-Rumely Company, an Indiana corporation, incorporated December 14, 1915. 'Quote from the December 16 and 23, 1015 issues of the Farm Implement News-. 'Newly organized Advance-Rumely Company bought all the assets of M. Rumely Company and Rumely Products Company.

The capitalization of the Dr. Rumely Company shrunk from $22,500,000 to about $2,500,000 in the Advance-Rumely Company. The name was changed and the reorganization to Advance-Rumely Company for the benefit received from the good name of Advance Thresher Company and for no other reason.

Advance-Rumely Company built thousands of small Oil Pull tractors and Rumely separators. That company designed and built the Advance-Rumely engine with the wing sheet boiler. M. R. Voorhees, manager for Advance-Rumely Company at Kansas City, when the engine was built said, 'The Marsh reverse gear was adopted because the engine, when equipped with it, was more economical and powerful, than when tested with any of the other seven types of reverse gears.' Advance-Rumely Company bought and took over Aultman-Taylor about March 1, 1924.

Advance-Rumely Company recorded its first chattel mortgage in Saline County, Kansas, July 15, 1916, and it was Wm. Stahl to Advance-Rumely Company--one Rumely 20 HP engine. That company recorded a chattel mortgage in Saline County, Kansas July 5, 1918, which read, Charles L. Richards to Advance-Rumely Company--one Gaar-Scott 32 HP engine No. 16221. That engine was new and shipped from Canada. It evidently had been built by Gaar-Scott & Company and carried through the life of M. Rumely and into the time of Advance-Rumely Company. That was a good threshing engine. The buyer of that engine lives in Saline County, Kansas.

Men write and speak of Advance and Advance-Rumely engines, as they do Advance Thresher Company and Advance-Rumely. They buy Advance engines, thinking they are Advance-Rumely engines, because Advance-Rumely transfers are on the jacket. 'A leopard does not change its spots' and the exhaust of no other make of an engine ever built, would snap, under a heavy load, as an Advance simple would snap even though the name of Advance-Rumely, in large letters, was on the jacket of the boiler.

The misstatements, evidently, were made by those who possess but little knowledge of Advance Thresher Company and were not well informed when the several Rumely companies lived and the relationship of one of them to the other companies. The statements were unfair to Advance Thresher Company and misleading to the thousands who read them. Statements in 'A Defense of Advance Thresher Company', concerning that company, the Dr. Rumely Company, Rumely Products Company, and Advance-Rumely Company, are not 75% wrong but should statements be proved misstatements, I will, 'without equivocation and mental reservation' correct them.

It probably made little difference to many readers of the ALBUM, whether the transaction in which the ownership of the Advance Thresher Company and the Gaar-Scott & Company was acquired, was a sale or a merger, the date 1911 or 1915, the Dr. Rumely Company or the Rumely Products Company built the Rumely machinery, but to those to whom it made a difference the records submitted are indisputable evidence that Gaar-Scott, Rumely and Advance engines and separators were recorded under those names, when sold by either Rumely Products Company or Advance-Rumely Company, that Advance Thresher Company and Gaar-Scott & Company sold to M. Rumely in December, 1911, that Rumely Products Company was admitted to do business in Indiana February 29, 1912, and that Advance-Rumely Company was incorporated December 14, 1915.

Advance Thresher Company's selling in December 1911 made it impossible for that company to have been linked to or connected with either of those companies and for the same reason, none of the misdeeds of the Dr. Rumely Company should be charged to Advance Thresher Company, which was too worthy to be compared with the Dr. Rumely Company.