Route #1, Box 54 Princeton, Wisconsin 54968
The Pickett Community Center's Second Annual Steam and Gas Show was held on September 10 and 11, 1988. Pickett, an unincorporated village, is situated on state highway 44 about 11 miles south and west of Oshkosh and approximately 7 miles north and east of Ripon.
The weather was superb and the event well attended. Parking space was more than ample and one could reach the grounds with a minimum of effort.
Immediately inside, a flea market was in full swing offering jewelry, toys, catalogs, tools, parts, fancy work, glassware and the like. On Saturday a pedal tractor pull was conducted for three weight classes. Nervous competitors and anxious parents and friends lined the track. At the end of the day the winners were posted.
Class C (51-60 pound class): 1. Sarah Bradley, 2. Sam Thomas, 3. Terin Krumenauer. Class B (61-70 pound class): 1. Polly Kafer, 2. Chad Smith, 3. Eric Folske. Class A (71-80 pound class): 1. Jay Kreuziger, 2. Leo Moffett, 3. Jason Banks.
Nearby, Norm Nohr and Gil Wendland of Route 1, Greenleaf, Wisconsin had set up their spectacular 'Farm Display'. Between compliments from passing spectators, Norm explained that they had been working at their hobby for about eight years. Gil had made a gristmill powered by an overshot waterwheel. Together they have built a farm house, windmill, barn and numerous pieces of farm machinery such as a plow, grain drill, manure spreader and hay wagon. Besides the various pieces of farm machinery and the horses to draw them, Norm and Gil have constructed a hearse, covered wagons, stage coaches and buggies. The display was prepared for the Chilton, Wisconsin show, but now the fellows have it mounted on a trailer so that it can be readily transported from show to show.
Further on, farm machinery was arranged in parallel lines in an open field. At one end were three antique Ford cars followed by numerous gas engines. Among the attention grabbers were Ralph Myer's miniature Oil-Pull, Bob and Bill Frolich's model gas engines and Dennis R. Lefever's 1? HP 'Little Jumbo' built in 1915. Dennis found it on a farm, back in the woods. At one time it had been used to pump water. Besides this engine he had an IHC, a Fuller-Johnson and a Fairbanks. He did not say how many engines he owned, but the Frolichs have at least thirty.
Gene Reisen of Ripon had several gas engines and a Maytag washer with a gas engine that did not want to start. Gene said that when he married he told his bride that he had a washing machine for her. 'I took her to the garage and showed her a 1924 gas driven Maytag'. Mrs. April Reisen is secretary of the Pickett Club.
One of the most unusual small engines, belonging to Bert Gordee of Stevens Point, Wisconsin, was taken from an airplane used in World War II to stage radio controlled targets for the pilots to shoot down.
Many farm tractors were on display: Farmall, Cockshutt, Co-op, Fordson, Case, Hass, Minneapolis-Moline, Allis Chalmers, Oliver and John Deere. The last named were probably the most numerous. Eugene Schumacher, treasurer of the Club, had his 20-40 Advance-Rumley Oil-Pull in place. This type G tractor (number 2895) at one time was the property of his grandfather. Perhaps the most rare tractor was a 1933 tri-wheel Fordson that William Gomoll was showing. It was manufactured in England and still has its original pneumatic tires.
Somewhere near the middle of the field of machinery, 79 year old Pat Schmallenberg of Shawano, Wisconsin was operating his shingle mill. His father began sawing before the turn of the century and the mill was a family enterprise for many years. For the past twenty years Pat has been taking his shingle mill to steam and gas shows and to Farm Progress Days. He began at the age of twelve as a bundle packer. When he took over the operation of the mill he had a crew of seven men and sometimes they would saw a hundred bundles per day. One man did the hauling, another cut blocks from which the shingles were made. A third fired the steam engine. Four men worked about the saw. Pat can still make the shingles fly and in all his years, he declared, 'I never lost a finger'.
Moving on from the shingle mill to the saw mills, one found that Tony Stadtmueller, vice president of the Pickett Club, had built a model saw-mill that he powered with a model Case steam engine. In terms of size his outfit stood in sharp contrast to that operated by Marvin Rustad of Cottage Grove, Wisconsin.
Marvin has owned several saw-mills. This particular one was a United States Marine Corps surplus, the kind the Corps had employed over-seas during World War II. He has sawed with this mill at numerous shows. More than fifty steam engines have been tested on it. On this occasion Dan Moehrke's 1919 Advance-Rumely steam engine was used.
Another center of activity was the model and full size threshing rigs. Mike Kolb had a half scale 20-40 Rumely Oil-Pull belted to his model Case separator. At the end of the grain spout stood a neat little farm wagon that received the grain. John Sell of Brillion, Wisconsin was running his model threshing outfit comprised of a Case separator and a Rumely Oil-Pull. Sell has constructed a small steam Case engine of which he is rightfully proud.
The crowd began to collect around Wyman Boettcher's Illinois steam engine when he opened the throttle and the wheels began to turn on Everett Patzlaff's 28x46 McCormick Deering thresher. Everett, who resides in Pickett, has had this separator since 1974 and has threshed with it each year since. An Avery 28x48, belonging to Larry and Tom Buehring, stood nearby awaiting its turn.
Wyman Boetcher's Illinois engine was manufactured in Sycamore, Illinois by a firm established by William N. Rumely of the famous Rumely family of Laporte, Indiana. This 20 horse engine was built before 1920 and was used at first by the Valders Canning Company of Valders, Wisconsin to power its pea viners. Eventually it was replaced by another source of power and was sold for $50.00. It passed through at least two other hands before it was purchased by Wyman in the early 1970's for $3,000. This purchase, he jokingly remarked, nearly caused his wife to divorce him. Judging from what one hears at these shows this is not an uncommon threat on the part of wives married to collectors of steam and gas tractors.
Wyman Boettcher is most ably assisted by his son, Carl. Not only is Wyman forming a strong bond with his twelve year old son, he is assuring us all of at least one more generation of steam engineers to carry on a grand tradition.
There were many other items that engaged the attention of those in attendance, but unfortunately only a few can be mentioned. Among these were a rock crusher, bailer, bucksaw, corn Sheller, grindstone, grain binder, antique garden tractors, chain saws, washing machines, motor scooters, outboard motors, bicycles, tricycles, lawn mowers and model farm wagons. These may seem less significant to some, but as Daniel Webster might have said, 'There are those who love them'.
Walking about and viewing the many worthwhile things to be seen is certainly one of the chief reasons for attending a steam and gas show. But it is not the only one. There is the renewing of previous acquaintances, such as those with Frank Howe of Nashota and Art Hess of Van Dyne, Wisconsin. And the making of new ones with people like Richard Sauer and Art Tomm. Richard, from Oak-field, Wisconsin can tell you about band cutting when some threshers still did not have self-feeders. Remembering his early experiences he sighed, 'I could sit all day and listen to a steam engine'.
Art Timm enjoys telling about tending an Advance-Rumely separator for nine years with only a 30 minute delay in all that time. His career as a farm machinery salesman spanned several years selling the Cockshutt and Massey-Harris lines. Among the more significant events in his full life was participating in the brigade of self-propelled combines that harvested various grain crops from Texas to Canada during World War II and which has been described so well by Merrill Denison in his book, Harvest Triumphant. He also remembers with fondness the American Threshermen's Association and its policy that forbade members from threshing for any farmer who had refused to pay his threshing bill of the previous season.
So, all in all, it was a worthwhile and most enjoyable affair. The Pickett Steam and Gas Show is growing and it was not uncommon to hear people speaking of plans to attend or to exhibit again next year. If you would like information regarding the 1989 show you may write: Larry Buehring, president, 6860 Clairville Road, Oshkosh, Wisconsin 54901.