Calling All Kittens

Kitten engine

Ben Winter, who brought the ''parts'' engine.

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Rt. 2, Box 6 Slaton, Texas 79364-9501

First, for all the people in the world who have the last name of Kitten, we have a short story of your heritage. For many years we have known of our family heritage from Texas to Nebraska to Indiana to Ohio to Ibbenburen (Prussia) West Germany. Last year we had a family reunion and invited the Kittens from Ibbenburen, West Germany. The Germans came and, much to their surprise, they found that the Kittens in the U.S.A., and especially West Texas, were very prolific. For until a few years ago, they thought they were the only Kittens anywhere. As it turns out, the Kitten family tree can be traced all the way back to 1100 A.D. According to Josef and Rein-hold Kitten of Ibbenburen, West Germany, the name Kitten came from a description of the mountain range that they came from. In Germany the valley or range was called 'From Kitte to Hollenberke.' Hence all the people from that valley were called Kitten. Also, as the researchers tell us, that far back the people only had one name instead of two or three that we now have. And in case you wonder, the American Kittens came over about 1850; Josef and Reinhold Kitten from Ibbenburen are my 6th cousins!!!! Reinhold Kitten lives on some farmland that has been continuously owned by Kittens since 1100 A.D.

The following article was written and given to Joseph Kitten at our Kitten Reunion on July 1, 1990.

'Dear Kitten Family,

'We are very happy to be here with you on the meeting with the big Kitten Family. This voyage was an old dream for us for our family. Even you have heard some information about our family.

'It was not easy to realize this voyage. Reinhold and I have normally to work, but now we are happy to be here. And today it is much easier to come than in former times that's only some hours with an airplane. Your ancestors need many weeks for this way and they had no comfort on this was, maybe no bed and maybe no home, when they came in this country. But they have had much courage we know it, they had founded farms and factories we have seen it yesterday, and they founded big families we see it here.

'And now we are feel us here like among old, friends and relatives. I may say: It's wonderful. It's a feeling like this: We know us, but we haven't seen us in the last 150 years. Your ancestors and we come from the same country, from the same village Ibbenburen we have the same history.

'A few years ago we didn't believe that so many Kittens are existing in the world. You have help us to extend our knowledge about our own family history, we got more interest for our family.

'And now you may allow, I say some words about our country. The last year, 1989, was the most famous year, for Germans in this century, I think. We have seen live a famous revolution, a peaceful revolution. It was a time full of emotions. In the last year, the East German leader, Honecker said: The wall will be stand hundred years. When one year ago anyone say: In 1990 you can travel through whole Germany one other would answer: that's not possible, you are crazy. And now it is reality: just this day, July first in 1990, is the first day since 1945, you can travel in Germany without any personal control between East and West that's a wonder. This wonder was possible.

'We in Germany have to thank for the courage of the Hungarian government for 'Gorbachev's Perestroika' and for the long friendship and aid from the Americans that's true. Many American soldiers had helped to defend the freedom in West-Europe.

In the morning Father Marvin Kitten said: Freedom is God's idea. We thank for the freedom. You know, that many people in the autumn of the last year had prayed and then they had gone on the streets for demonstration. And now I say: I thank God for this day and I thank you all for your friendship and the friendly atmosphere here.'

Of the few Kitten steam engines that are still together, there are some of them that are changing owners from time to time. The last sale that I know of is one that was sold by the Eiffel Plasterer Estate to Ben Winter. Eiffel had a few Kittens that he saved over the years. He had #219, #148, and the one that Ben Winter bought. He also owned a Kitten water wagon.

Another Kitten engine that changed owners last year was the one owned by Wallace Freeman from Cecilia, Kentucky. Ferdinand, Indiana celebrated its 150th anniversary on July 4th, 1990. The celebration included a display of antique farm machinery. Since the Kitten was manufactured in Ferdinand, Indiana, the firm was well represented with two Kitten steam engines and two Kitten separators and one Kitten water wagon. After the celebration Francis Lindauer of Ferdinand decided they needed a Kitten engine for a permanent display in Ferdinand. So another Kitten engine #176 comes back home to Ferdinand. The reason I say it comes back home is that the original owner was Harry Ruhe of Ferdinand. Herbert Ruhe was the next owner and then it was owned by Joe Lueken. And wouldn't you know that his son Merle Lueken still owns Lueken Lumber Company that his father used to own. Remember that Joe Lueken used to work at the Kitten factory before he opened his own business. So naturally if Joe has a lumber mill that uses a Kitten saw mill and he has not one but two Kitten steam engines and two Kitten separators then his sons have full time jobs. Now one of the engines that Merle used to fire when he was much younger now is back home. Home was in Ferdinand and now the engine is about a half a mile from where it was before leaving Ferdinand the first time.

Now there are two Kitten engines in Ferdinand and both of these engines have seen many hours of work in Ferdinand and also some of the people that fired them before are still there and of course they ran them again. This time it was just for fun and games instead of making a living.

I almost forgot to mention that there are two half-scale Kitten engines that were made about 1969.

Apparently they were made by Joseph Steinhaggen from Dodge Center, Minnesota and both of them had #105 on them. Joe Steinhaggen died and Joe H. Cross bought one of the engines from the estate.

And the short story well it really was my short story.


At this time I thought it would be appropriate to show my updated listing of the Kitten Steam Engines since there are so few of them around:


Year Mfg.




Jerry Kitten, Slaton, Texas



Leroy McClure, Colchester, Illinois



Reynolds Museum,

Wetaskiwin, Alb. Canada



Lawrence Troesch, St. Meinart, Indiana



Al New, Pendleton, Indiana



Bobby Plasterer & Alice Jacobs,

Huntington, Indiana



Lubbock County Museum,

Lubbock, Texas



Graveyard Headstone



Billy Kennedy, Grafton, Ohio



Edd Sigmon, Newton, North Carolina



Francis Lindauer, Ferdinand, Indiana





Leroy McClure, Colchester, Illinois





Hubert Reynolds, Boonville, Indiana





Bill Ruttledge, Dyer, Indiana





Oscar Cooke, Billings, Montana





David Sampson, Columbia Station, Ohio



Virgil Riggins, Odon, Indiana




Francis Lindauer, Ferdinand, Indiana





Edaville R.R., S. Carver, Massachusetts





Alice Jacobs, Huntington, Indiana



Charles Scafer, Argus, Indiana



Ben Winter, Candleburg, Illinois

TOTAL: 22 Kitten Steam Engines so far.