CHESTER THOMAS SAWYER, 86, of Bird City, Kansas passed away September 27, 1981 in a hospital in Denver, Colorado after a short illness.
Chet will be remembered by his many friends that he visited during several different antique engine shows. He loved to visit and discuss the many different problems he experienced during his life of farming and custom threshing.
Chet started his early threshing experience by operating a grain separator for a custom thresher man who had three different outfits during the fall threshing season. Later he had his own outfit and did custom grain threshing until the combine replaced the threshing machine.
He was a charter member in organizing his antique shows: The Tri-State Antique Engine & Threshers Association at Bird City, Kansas, and the Antique Steam Engine show in Wichita, Kansas. He was president of the Bird City show for 16 years.
His many steam engine friends will miss his presence at steam engine shows.
Submitted by Melvin Wright, Secretary, Tri-State Antique Engine and Threshers Association.
LEWIS JOHN DITTOE passed away November 23,1981. Lewis had moved to Dresden, Ohio in 1920 and owned and operated a garage. He was a skilled mechanic and it is said he could have 'built' a car. He loved his work and he worked hard. But the land and the farm life were always in his blood. In 1959 Mr. Dittoe retired from the garage business and in 1960 bought a small farm on the outskirts of Dresden. The acreage was 14 and extended to the Muskengum River. He spent all his time there and bought two or three steam engines this was Mr. Dittoe at his happiest to fire up his steam engines. Many people came to watch.
When his dear wife passed away, he sold the family home and with the help of his son, Gene, renovated the standing structure, a 'barn-style' home into a beautiful red barn home. It was lovely! He was very happy there. He lived alone, planted crops, picked apples and most of all worked on his steam engines. He showed them in parades in Zanesville, Ohio, Dresden and also at steam engine meets in Cadiz, Dover, Glenford, Bloomfield and in some areas in Pennsylvania.
Mr. Dittoe also had built his own saw mill and at times sawed wood. He also used a threshing rig. He will be missed by many.
Submitted by Laurel D. Runals, 18008 Diagonal Road, La Grange, Ohio 44050.
ARTHUR A. NORTON, 90, of Syracuse, New York, died recently. He was a charter member of the New York Steam Engine Association of Canadaigua and a charter member of the Pioneer Gas Engine Association of Fairville.
Arthur helped bale hay with a horsedrawn sweep. Threshing was done with a steam engine when we were married 63 years ago. We farmed our 114 acres with horses and made maple syrup for 42 years.
Arthur was a director in the New York Steam Engine Association for three years and ran the drag saw at the show for 20 years.
He will be missed by many at the shows.
Submitted by Myrtle Norton, 4254 Norton Road, Syracuse, New York 13215.
JAMES E. SLOAN, of Dover, Ohio, passed away December 24, 1981. Jim was president of the Tuscarawas Valley Pioneer Power Association, Dover, for the past seven years. He served the association well, improving and enlarging its show each year. Prior to his terms as president, he was vice-president. He also was in charge of the small gas engine area where he displayed his collection of one cylinder engines. Jim was an oil and gas well rig operator for 40 years.
Submitted by Verle E. Baker.
GEORGE E. PRISELER passed away August 6, 1981 after a long illness with cancer. He would have been 74 years old on August 10, 1981. Although he never had his dream come true by owning a steam engine, he was an avid fan, and always hoped some day to own an Avery 18 HP undermounted steamer like his dad owned in 1914. He also liked gas engines, owning a Stover 5 HP and a New Idea Vari-Speed 1 to 2 at the time of his death. He had both of these engines restored and running.
We attended as many steam shows in this area as we could each summer. I think we attended the first show put on by Pontiac way back in the 50's.
George also owned and operated a Corley sawmill as a sideline to his farming operations. His many friends and business associates as well as his family mourn his death.
Submitted by Mrs. George E. Priseler, 5846 Telegraph Road, Pecatonica, Illinois 61063.
JIM SWALES, 88, died peacefully on December 25, 1981. In 1907, at the age of 14, he started out on a lengthy threshing career with a new 15-45 HP Case and a 28' steel Case thresher. From 1918-19 he served on the mine sweeper 'Nairobi' as a stoker. He farmed actively until he was 83 years old and kept his old 28' Case in service for straw for his cattle herd.
He personally witnessed the famous Winnipeg Exhibition until its demise in 1914. A lot of living history has now passed on as Jim had personal conversations with many important men at the Exhibitions.
He had conversations with a Case representative who had been in Kansas when the Case Company was experimenting with the 150 HP Case pulling 20-bottoms in virgin sod. Apparently, the engine had plenty of power (212 HP on brake) but they had insurmountable problems with hot bearings, gears cutting out and studs breaking off all over the boiler as it wasn't built to take the tremendous strain. This representative came to solely watch the 110 HP Cases plow as they scaled down the 150 to 110 HP size to try and rid all the problems of the 150.
Jim also talked to one of Case's designing engineers who came to watch every Case engine's performance. Apparently this designing engineer couldn't get back to Case's drawing board feet enough, as he didn't like the open prairies, engine smoke or dust.
Jim always had many interesting stories to tell of his experiences and of the people he met throughout his life. Jim volunteered many years of hard work at Austin's Manitoba Agricultural Museum. His pride and joy at the museum was operating a 1904 25 HP Case and 40' x 62' Case wooden thresher which had been donated in 1956. The engine and thresher had always been shedded and were in perfect operating condition with all original equipment.
The past two years I had the pleasure of Jim's company in helping restore some of Jerome Increase's very old and rare machinery. Jim was a perfectionist when it came to original colors, original parts and lathe work machining. His whole life was dedicated to the operation of the steam engine.
He leaves absolutely no family so it's a regret to close a final chapter on a book so full of history.
Submitted by Jack W. Beamish, Box 271, Hamiota, Manitoba.