Reflections From Indiana

Fred Blauth engine

Fred Blauth engine #1515 Keck-Gonnerman at Pana, IL.

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R. R. 2, Box 274 Shelburn, Indiana 47879

Like some of the other old Iron Men, this is my first time to write. Lloyd Creed's story and picture on page 13 and 14 of the January-February issue got me 'fired up' to write and send a picture of Keck-Gonnerman engine #1515 of Fred Blauth of Tower Hill, Illinois. The picture was taken in September 1952, at the fairground in Pana, Illinois. Fred is on the engine. The lady walking by the engine is my aunt, Clista Ransford Moore (1891-1984). She lived east of Assumption, Illinois, across from the Frank Oaks farm (now owned by Don Kuhle, the Case-IH, Ford dealer on Highway 51 in Assumption). Mr. Creed's picture was probably taken at Fred's farm in Dollville, Illinois. The time I was there he had two single-cylinder Keck-Gonnerman engines and a Minneapolis engine. He also had three engines at his home in Tower Hill. Fred's wife had lots of dolls. The one that I remember the best was an engineer doll dressed in striped overalls, shirt, and cap with a tiny shovel in his hand. She said that was Fred's favorite doll. The picture of the Peerless engine taken the same day in 1952 belonged to Ralph Fisher of Assumption. Ralph had a machine shop and was mayor of Assumption for a number of years. In the picture of the scale model engines at the Pana show, one of the men may be Milford Reese that Mr. Creed mentioned.

The picture of the Minneapolis engine was taken at the Centennial at Assumption in 1953. Fred had #1515 there also. I think the Minneapolis belonged to someone from Taylorville, Illinois. That was the day I signed for the IMA and have taken it ever since. I think the price was $2.00 per year.

The story in the May-June issue about the 'Indiana Special' brought back memories of my dad Gene Ransford's separator. It too was an Indiana Special, and was double belted also. It was #2125 and a 36-60.

In October 1925 my dad and Mr. Don Starkey bought a used Keck-Gonnerman rig (engine #1643 single-cylinder, and a 36-60 separator). It had a Kay Gee feeder and a Hart belt and bucket weigher. It was not double-belted. Mr. Starkey ran this rig for about 20 years, and Dad ran his own rig.

I was born in January 1917, and my dad bought his first rig in 1918, a Huber engine #9635 and a Huber separator. In 1924, he traded for the Keck-Gonnerman rig. In 1930, he traded the Keck double-cylinder for a 20 HP Advance Rumely #15171. It was shipped on the Nickel Plate Railroad from Mellot, Indiana, to Cayuga, Indiana, then on the C & EI Railroad to Farmersburg, Indiana. The freight bill was $33.60. I was 12 years old then and got to help unload it off the flat car and run it home west of Shelburn in June 1930. At right is a picture of the Advance Rumely, my dad, and I.

Dad bought the Huber 25-50 HP tractor (bottom right) to run a clover huller and a bean huller. He had a #8 Birdsell clover huller. He traded it on an Advance Rumely #9 huller. The bean huller was a 36-48 Keck-Gonnerman with a Kay Gee feeder and a shaker cross grain pan. The shaker pan emptied into half bushel buckets. If the beans turned out good it was quite a chore to keep the buckets emptied into sacks or a wagon grain bed. It had two spike-toothed cylinders.

Dad also had a Gaar-Scot sawmill. After the combines came he spent his final years at sawmilling with the 20 HP Advance Rumely engine, then a 22 HP Advance Rumely, then a 4-71 GM diesel power unit until 1966, so he was in the threshing and sawmilling business for nearly 50 years. He was a coal mine hoisting engineer and was also a fireman on the Evansville and Terre Haute Railroad and the New York Central Railroad and 'Big Four' Railroad from 1913-1918.

This is a story about Dad's and my threshing years that. I had been wanting to write for a long time. I ran the blower on the Keck separator from 1934-1936 and was engineer on the Advance Rumely engine from 1937-1939.

Dad was 80 years old when he stopped sawmilling in 1966, and he died March 10, 1972 just shy of being 86 years old.