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Country Echoes


Leroy Quandt

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So many unexpected things have happened at our house this past week. One day I had extra people for breakfast, dinner and supper. Yes - we are still old fashioned enough to have dinner at noon and then a meal called supper when our crew finally appears. In the morning the cow tester ate with us, at noon a friend and her little two-year-old daughter, in the evening a nephew, wife and two little ones. The nephew was to leave for Vietnam soon afterward. As I write this he is on his way. They were both so cheerful it was unbelievable.

At Edgewood Acres great changes are taking place. Mr. and Mrs. B. are building a house to retire in. There are many trips to lumber yards to pick out just the exact doors, the right windows, the kitchen counters which will be both decorative and practical. As we skurry around day after day (and especially when I have three unexpected meal additions) our thoughts go to a busy house builder, Johnie Schroeder. Mr. Schroeder lives in Waupaca on Raber Street. His good wife proudly told me that he has built over a hundred houses. Think how happy he has made all these families. His face shows that he takes real pleasure in his work. During all this time John was saving butternut wood and keeping it in reserve for their own home. So on Raber Street in Waupaca there is a house with butternut woodwork which I want to see some day.

It was the 27th of September that we visited a steam show just outside of Waupaca. It is a beginning for Johnie Schroeder and his steam companion, Joe Kuester. They have a collection one might envy if one was given to envying. We went with a neighbor couple, Earl and Lillian Jacques. This was one of those unexpected things, too. I expected to clean up my house, but, of course houses can be.

When we drove off Highway 10 here was the reunion in the nicest little natural arena you could hope for. Several little boys were busy telling one and all where they could park their cars. How important and how cute they were. They had short sticks in their hands and looked as official as the parking men at the county fair. And they had such nice smiles. You just loved them on sight.

A big, swaying truck followed us in and as soon as they were parked they began unloading four head of oxen. These were followed by four huge wooded wheels, ox yokes, a tongue for the wagon which was made of a thin log and all the other pieces necessary to build a wagon right on the spot. The men wandered off to see the engines but Lillian and I stayed put to see the whole thing put together.

As the operation progressed the axles of the 120 pound wheels were cleaned with a blunt knife, and finished with a hank of twisted hay. Then fresh tallow was applied and spread around for lubrication. The wheels were about the size of old fashioned land rollers sawed in half. They were possibly even a little wider than that.

There were so many other interesting things to see, and early spring tooth which looked hand made. I wish I could use it in my garden come spring. There was a cute little corn sheller, a stalk cutter, also small, which was the forerunner of the silo filler, I expect. Lillian called it a Hexal machine, but actually I think it was a Hackle Machine. She remembered her father speaking of them.

Right next to it stood a one cylinder early International Tractor, the fourth machine International ever made. It functions by internal combustion, runs on kerosene or distillate and is the silliest popper I ever heard. You start it with gas, they tell me. It belongs to Sam Guetsch of Weyauwega. In the afternoon they ran a small threshing machine with this engine and our oxen hauled up the bundles after protesting somewhat.

The threshing machine being used was a Columbia Model 24 inch cylinder machine made by The Little Belle Manufacturing Company of Racine, Wisconsin. The last patent sign was still readable - March 7, 1893. This machine doesn't chop the straw at all. Before the machine had started for the day I settled down on the pile of straw from an apparent trial run and basked in the welcome sunshine. Joe Kuester came along and sat down beside me. There was considerable kidding about Joe and I in the straw pile. Mr. B. claims Joe's wife was running around looking for a camera but I haven't yet decided whether it is the truth or if he was making up a good story.

Joe pointed out the unique peg board on the machine. The holes on the board indicated a certain number of bushels and the pegs were moved as the day progressed. The grain was caught in a bushel basket, then transferred to the grain sacks.

A bearded Steam Man, Willie Hanson, I found to be the owner of the cute little spring tooth. In the 1920 era he also bought little wheat grinder from Sears Roebuck for $7.45. That was on display. 'It never worked too well,' he complained. 'The belt kept coming off..'

Courtesy of Leroy Quandt, Ryder, North Dakota 58779. Pictured is the 25-75 Russell Steam Traction Engine No. 15725. This engine was bought new about 1920 and used only two seasons for threshing. It remained inside at Wolf Point, Mont. until the Torske Bros. of Conrad, Mon. bought it for their show. In 1968 Art Oberg, Wayne Jones, Ted Simmons, and W. L. Morris, of Ryder, N. Dak. purchased it from the Torske Bros. It is now in the Makoti Threshing Association Museum and is used at the threshing show on the third weekend in September each year. There are two 40 x 96 Butler steel buildings filled with steam engines, tractors, threshing machines, trucks and cars. This museum is in Makoti, N. Dak. and can be visited at any time.

Now it was my turn to have some fun. Lillian suggested I ask Mr. Hanson his age. He was quite ancient, she assumed. When it developed Willie was a year younger than Lillian - well - that was an oxen of another color. I chuckled off and on all day about that one.

There was one girl there we interviewed. She was Susan Hoewisch, the daughter of the owner of the oxen and the unique wagon. She was Carl Hoewisch's right hand helper. She is 15. This unusual wagon we mentioned before is now in possession of the fifth, generation of the Hoewisch family. He uses the oxen to haul logs in the winter. I am sending a picture of this for the column. Four oxen haul all their firewood for them. The family lives at Freemont.

We also met Ed Seekins, of 71 West Street at Clintonville. His grandfather came from Effinton, New York. He raised oxen and sold them to the lumber companies here in Wisconsin. When oxen were replaced with horses he raised horses. He talked to us about sod houses, how the North Dakota soil produced a strongly rooted sod which made solid blocks for building.

We also met Mr. Steam Engine of Wisconsin, a man who has fifteen steam engines. He is Joe Rabas of Algoma. Mr. and Mrs. Kuester met him at a Luxen-burg Show and from this meeting came the show at Waupaca. Pardon me, it was his wife I met. It is difficult to remember everything in its proper order.

Before we left, that day, we heard of the passing away of Justin Hingtgen, who was also an avid engine collector. Time waits for no man. Again we are reminded, keep your spiritual house in order at all times. Surely we have a charge to keep, let us be ever alert to this need.