STEAM DREAMS.

Hohwald Threshing Ring

Content Tools

Upper Sandusky, Ohio R.F.D. 1

I certainly enjoy the Iron-Men Album and the Gas Engine Magazine. I read them from cover to cover, over and over again. Being born too late and growing up too slow to take part in the steam era, these fine magazines give me the opportunity to read of the grand old timers. Through the letters, pictures, and articles I can gain a little of what I have missed. The era of modern machinery and larger farms that promised us ease and prosperity, brought instead confusion, the destruction of the family farm, drew us apart from our neighbors, and farther from God.

I will tell you what I can of the Hohwald Threshing Ring of S.E. of  Upper Sandusky Ohio in Wyandot County. I have in my possession the minute books of this organization, as my father, John Barick was sec.-treas. of the group. From these records and my memories of my early years I will reconstruct as best I can.

In March of 1920, fourteen men met in the Hohwald one-room school to form the Hohwald Threshing Ring. Harry Myers was elected president, John Barick was elected sec.-treas., and Fred Seifert was appointed manager of the Ring. Rules and bylaws were drawn up and signed. Money was borrowed from a bank to purchase equipment. A note for 3000.00 was signed by all the members of the ring. A Nichols Shepard engine, water tank, Red River Special separator, and Birdsell clover huller were purchased from Vernon Schindler. The note was to be paid off with the earnings of the outfit. Wages and terms were agreed upon etc. Threshing was to begin at end of the line for wheat. Oats would be threshed on the way back. Barley, beans, or timothy seed would be worked in when ready. The charge to members in the ring in 1920 was $.08 for wheat, $.05 for oats, $.06 for barley and $.40 for timothy seed. After the threshing season ended a picnic was to be held at a park or amusement center for the members and their families. On one occasion 72 were in attendance. At least once a pest hunt was conducted in august, the losers to furnish water melons for the annual picnic.

So began years of cooperation hard work, neighborliness, and fun. The cooperation was not confined to threshing, but often helping one sick or in need, or raising a barn or erecting a building. Hard working men had to eat, so the Ladies had a very important part in the ring as they demonstrated the same kind of cooperation by helping each other prepare the meals and plan the outings. However in later years the men carried their lunch.

About the most important member of the ring was Old Nick, the faithful old steam engine who kept all the wheels turning. He was called on to move almost anything immovable in the neighborhood including houses, stumps, trees, etc.

I remember when I was about five years old, watching Old Nick pull an old house that was to be used as a granary almost a quarter mile across the fields to a new location on our farm. And of watching as he pulled stumps and trees across the road from our house. Of standing back out of every ones way admiring the powerful engine as it so easily pulled the big thresher. Only when the belt was off and the steam down was I allowed to approach my big iron hero, and maybe even stand on the platform. Ever since this time I have been a steam engine fan, but my dreams of being 'Engine Man' were never fulfilled, as Old Nick and many other good engines have gone where far too many good engines have gone-to the scrap heap!

I now own the Farm that has been in our family for 120 yrs., but the farm is only as a hobby while I am forced to seek employment elsewhere. The same wonderful kind of people still live in the old neighborhood but we don't have time to be neighbors anymore. Just an occasional 'Hi!' as we rush madly about trying to keep up with this crazy world.

The crashed engine had plunged through a then comparatively new bridge near Rose Hill. A note on the back of the picture, printed for postal card use said that the engine was owned by Charlie Bileschky and was used in his threshing machine rig.

The bridge has since been replaced.

This is another photo owned by Mrs. Johnnie Koontz of Rose Hill.

After years of so called progress a super highway has split the old neighborhood in two, with plans made for another to come very near the way, ruining many of the farms. Some have been absorbed into larger operations, while most of the farmers have part time work off the farm. I can spare neither time nor money to be a steam engine owner. But I own a 22 yr. old Farmall M. that has been my right hand man for many years and may become like grandfathers clock to me.

Anyway I can 'steam dream' through the pages of the Album, and enjoy the steam shows.