I have never heard from a story writer from this part of the country. I am now past 70 years old so thought I had better get it written while I could hold a pen.
In 1909 my father, G. C. Butler, bought a 16 HP Garr Scott Engine which was 2 years old, a 33-56 Reeves Compound Separator with Parsons Feeder, an 8 Roll big McCormick Deering Corn Shredder which had a blower pipe about the size of a 48' separator blower and a Garr Scott Clover Huller. The previous owner was going to lose it through a mortgage foreclosure. He had been trying to sell it to Dad all during the time he was threshing in our neighborhood. Dad finally bought the whole bunch of machinery for $1,250.00. The steamer had only been run two threshing seasons, 1908 and 1909.
Well, Dad had never run an engine very much, only grinding feed with an 8 HP Garr Scott engine and he would never move it if he could help it. When he got this 16 Garr Scott, he hired an engineer by the name of Bert Kern, who lived not too far away, to run the engine shredding corn in 1909. My Uncle Will Perin ran the shredder and I hauled water as Dad would not trust just anybody with the tank team which was a very good team of black mares weighing about 1700 lbs. each.
We started out about the 20th of October in 1909, shredding corn and put in 43 days that fall. We only Lost about 2 days on account of the weather. We moved home in December. I hauled water for 3 weeks that fall and then had to go to school so they put on another water monkey and a different team. I always thought Bert Kern was the best engineer that ever took hold of a throttle as he always knew what he was doing; he never got nerved up. He taught me all he could about the engine. It was like going to school to learn to be an engineer. After corn shredding in 1909, I fooled around with the engine in the yard at home. When the threshing season came along in 1910 Dad had a lot of prospects for engineer but they would either turn out to be boozers or _ poor recommendations. Dad finally decided that I may as well tear the outfit up as to hire somebody to do it. So, my brother and I took over the engine. My Uncle Will was going to run the separator and school teacher, Jay Kelly, was going to haul water.
Our first move was to go about 4 miles to get the huller as it had been left in the shed when Dad bought it. Believe me, I had a lot of experience that day. I did not know anything about the crosshead pump working until I found it had to be parked before it would work. I finally got that to work and left the steam get down while trying to get to work on the water in the head tank. It was too hot for the injector but we made it to where we were going to hull this clover before dinner. It was at a Scotsman place. He was originally from Scotland. We got started hulling after dinner and before night the water was running out the ash door which was caused by leaky flues which was caused by a poor job of firing. We got a man from town to fix them the next morning as I had no idea how to do it. We finally got the hulling done and moved home.
Next came the threshing and I learned a lot in a short time. Late one afternoon as we were moving; the old Garr Scott did not like its water, so it starting throwing up and I did not have sense enough to clean the bailer and started a long move home. The only way the engine would pull a hill was to fill the tallow cup and start. As long as that would last the engine would pull, but when it went dry the engine would groan and stop. We finally made it home about midnight -we should have arrived before supper-time. We cleaned the boiler next morning and when pulling in between the stacks, a hand valve gasket let go and we lost all the water. We had to cool down and get more water.
The next year or two we were threshing for an old German that always wanted to stack his oats and about the time they would just get in a good sweat then he was ready to thresh. However, it was better to thresh than wait because if we got much wet weather they would have to put an eves spout in the bottom of the stack to drain the water out as they would not turn water and would mold and stay wet. We were threshing there one day and the oats were plenty tough at the time. We had an Englishman tending separator who was sort of a rough character and while we were here 3 Irish brothers, ranging in age from 6 to 10 years, come over as they only lived about 40 rods from where we were threshing. This separator man came up to the engine all dirty with his slouch hat, etc. These 3 boys had all got on the tank wagon seat and this man said to me in a low voice, 'have you got room in the tool box for these boys?' I said 'yes' and if you ever saw three little Irishmen leave - they left so fast that you could hear the bush rattle for a half mile. They never came back anymore.