Fifty Years a Thresherman

Reminiscing on a career in the fields

50 Case steam engine

This is a picture of Bert Johnson's ''50'' Case steam engine transporting kids around the city square on Galva's annual ''Sidewalk Day'' which is observed on the third Tuesday of June each year and is sponsored by the Galva Chamber of Commerce.

Content Tools

Bert has owned and operated steam engines and threshers, cornshellers, etc. since 1904. His first outfit consisted of a 13 H.P. Gaar Scott engine and a Huber 36 x 60 separator with a Sattley attached stacker, self-feeder and weigher.

Since 1904 Bert has owned and operated 35 different steam engines and threshers plus everything that went with the steam engine era. For several years he operated eight steam outfits and several tractor rigs. He did his first job of threshing in 1904 and the last steam custom job in 1954, so he has the distinction of being 'fifty years a thresherman'. He has exhibited his last 'Case' engine at Pontiac for 12 consecutive years.

Last September after exhibiting at the Buda show and Bishop Hill old settlers reunion where he also did some threshing (as a final roundup), he loaded his 'Case 50' on a lowboy truck and it was transported to the Ella Sharp Museum in Jackson, Michigan, where it will spend its retirement years. It will also be fied up occasionally to prove to the public that it is still a live engine. However, Bert contends that he already feels lost without an engine, but by reason of bouts with arthritis and rheumatism, he finds himself unable to cope efficiently with the big monsters; but don't be surprised if in the near future there will be a 'want' ad in the Iron-Men Album for a small steam traction engine up to 12 or 14 H.P. because he asserts that once steam gets into your blood, its elimination is virtually impossible.

Fifty years a thresherman, with a multiple of varied experiences. Some very happy ones and many that were not so gratifying, but on the whole, a most interesting career.