722 East End Ave, Lancaster, Pa. 17602
During the last four days of the third week of August last, the Rough and Tumble Engineers Historical Association of Kinzers, Pa., celebrated their twenty-fifth anniversary by sponsoring their Annual Old Threshermen's Reunion.
It was a gala affair with the largest show to date, and a little history concerning this unique organization might be of interest to our readers, since it was the first organization of its kind east of the Alleghenys, and the second one east of the Mississippi River.
In the early 1920's or prior to the days of modern highways, the political slogan of the Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidates was 'Get the farmer out of the mud.'
Governor Gifford Pinchot was elected and was successful in his attempt to build 50,000 miles of rather narrow, inexpensive, two-lane macadam highways throughout the state. This, while helping the farmer out of the mud also contributed to the problem, keeping him on solid footing in the threshing of his crop of grain.
Many times the large steam and gasoline traction engines with their steel cleated iron drive wheels, would grind through these early macadam highways. This was especially true on hills where the power was applied to pull these large threshing rigs over the top, as they moved from farm to farm. Needless to say, this caused a confrontation between the threshermen and farmers on one side and the Commonwealth on the other.
Attempts were made to keep the large steel cleated traction engine rigs off the highways. As a result threshermen, farmers and equipment dealers felt the need to protect their interests and after some discussion with Arthur S. Young of Kinzers, Pa., the Pennsylvania Threshermen and Farmers Protective Association was organized. Due to his ample qualifications of 32 years in the operation of a threshing rig and proprietor of a Farm Equipment Dealership, he was elected President of the new organization. Jacob Brubaker was elected treasurer, William Hovetter and Victor Wintermantel were also members of the Board. They too were eminently qualified. (Mr. Hovetter is still visiting the steam shows at a spry 93 years).
Mr. Young and his Board designed a formula to present to the Pennsylvania Legislature as follows. A certain ratio of the square inch of cleat surface would be permitted to relation to the gross weight of the traction engine. The Pennsylvania legislature adopted these guide-lines and a sort of discontented truce existed between the Commonwealth and the threshermen and farmers, as no one was completely satisfied but both sides felt they could live with it.
However, time marches on, and the dilemma of the heavy cleated traction engines and the modern highways would soon be solved. Minneapolis-Moline of Hopkinsville, Minn, in the early 1930's announced they would mount their tractors on rubber tires, but cleats would be optional. Many farmers and threshermen shook their heads in doubt. But as we know, the cleated tractors were short-lived.
Several years later the death knell was to sound for the threshing rig when Allis-Chalmers developed a small, portable combine on rubber tires, which every farmer could own and power with his farm tractor. Thus the binder, the traction engine, the thresher and much of the labor connected therewith was eliminated in one stroke.
At the end of this decade in 1939 Thresherman Ed Nolt of New Holland perfected his 'Automatic' pickup baler in the Arthur S. Young shop at Kinzers, Pa. After the building of x25 Automatic hay balers a group of enterprising young men bought the New Holland gasoline engine factory, as well as Ed Nolt and his baler, operations were moved to New Holland, and the New Holland Machine Company completed the demise of the once proud threshing rig which consisted of a steam traction engine, with a water tank, or a gasoline traction engine, with a thresher and baler.
The Pennsylvania Threshermen and Farmers Protective Association had out-lived its usefulness but there were still a few hundred dollars in the treasury, and Jacob Brubaker, the treasurer, wished to be relieved of this money. The Board was called and among the suggestions was that the remaining funds should be used to hold a great banquet with all the threshermen and farmers in the area to be invited, but nothing was decided for sure.
About 1946 Arthur S. Young visited Mr. LeRoy Blaker at Alvordton, Ohio, where he witnessed a steam engine show in progress. It is said this fired up Art Young, who was a steam engine collector, with the idea of inviting all the threshermen, engineers, and saw millers to once again come to Kinzers and fire up these retired machines, and live again the thrills of the control of these great machines as they put a hand on a throttle, and the power surged at their command.
A rather small show was held at Kinzer on the grounds of Arthur S. Young, but the enthusiasm which was generated among the Old Threshermen demanded that this become an annual event, so a larger show was held in 1948. The first Grand Parade was led by Jacob
Brubaker and his Model R. R. Peerless steam traction engine which is now retired and on display at the Landis Valley Farm Museum near Lancaster, Pa. Bringing up the rear was a Scheidler operated by Noah Getz.
By 1949 the Lancaster and Lebanon Chapters of the Pennsylvania Threshermen and Farmers Protective Association voted to disband; it was also decided to use the money to hold a picnic and reunion of the Old Threshermen. This was held May 19, 1949.
In 1950 the Rough and Tumble Engineers Historical Association was organized by Arthur S. Young, who served as first President, C. Everett Young first Vice-President, Victor Winter mantel second Vice-President, Roy H. Herr SecyTreasurer, Ralph W. Eby, Attorney, as Solicitor; and Rev. Elmer Ritzman as Chaplain. Titus Brubaker, Wm. Knotts, Clarence Hershey, Willis Hershey, and Arthur Kauffman were the first Directors.
It has been said one of the differences between men and little boys is the size of their toys and whenever an old thresherman smells the odor of sulphur coal, his heart skips a beat and he knows that he will soon hear the scream of the whistle, as the powerful steam engine once again slowly, and smoothly moves out to engage in the task which confronts it. And so for the past quarter century not only the Old Threshermen enjoy their annual reunion but people come from all corners of the U.S. and beyond to learn how America grew from the small, colonial wilderness to become the best fed and most self-sufficient nation in the World. This has largely been accomplished by the ingenuity of our people to build machines which enabled our farmers to feed the population with a surplus. Let us hope this continues without interference.
The current officers of 1973 are as follows:
C. Daniel Brubaker, President; Alfred J. Kutzner, 1st Vice-President; John E. Nafziger, 2nd Vice-President; Grace M. Lichty, Rec. Secretary; Edward O. Margerum, Cor. Secretary; Rev. Marlin McCleaf, Chaplain; John B. Rengier, Attorney; Charles S. Rice, Publicity; John C. Railing, Historian; Willis H. Hershey, Curator.
There is also an additional Board of 30 directors.
The Quarter Century Anniversary Program was as follows: 10 a.m. Morning Devotions were opened by the announcer, Wilmer J. Eshleman. The flag was raised to the strains of the Star Spangled played on the Calliope. The Invocation was given with some choice remarks by the Chaplain Rev. Marlin McCleaf. Welcoming remarks by President, Dan Brubaker. 10:15 a.m., all engine activity with Calliope music. 10:30 a.m., sawing of cedar shingles with a Chase shingle mill, powered by either steam or gasoline engine. 10:45 a.m., sawing of lumber on an old Bartley sawmill powered by steam traction engine. 11:15 a.m., stone crusher powered by either steam or gasoline engine. 11:30 a.m., Calliope musical selections. 11:45 a.m., steam engines on Teeter Totter as well as the Baker Fan. Noon, the dinner whistle.
At this time all official activities close down for one hour. The food is abundant in true Pennsylvania Dutch style and taste, with about five kitchens and stands of food and for a bit they overflow with people.
It is at this time that people visit with one another and renew old acquaintances. Many people enter the museum buildings where the giant stationary engines are slowly idling away.
A 100 H. P. three ball Klein gasoline engine with 10 foot flywheels is on display. There are also many other gasoline giants, some near a century old, with strange methods of timing, carburetion and valve systems, but all running in the perfect rhythm of a gasoline flywheel engine. The man who deserves a large credit for these engines is A. D. Mast, a longtime member and gasoline engine fancier and collector.
Then too, one can't miss the four large stationary steam engines, with the Corliss valve systems. One of these smooth running giants was made by Allis-Chalmers. The flywheels on these large steam engines range up to 10 feet in diameter, all operating majestically under the loving care of Ellis Platt and Leroy Ebersol. One furnishes the power for our own system of electricity.
As we pass the apple butter stand, and the broom maker's machine, then move on to the hobby engine building, it is time to hear the resumption of the program for the afternoon.
The announcer states over the mi-microphone that it is now 1:00 p.m. and the Calliope will begin the program with some appropriate selections. 1:15 p.m., the pageant of the threshing of grain:, threshing by flail, ground hog thresher powered by a horse walking a tread power, cleaning the grain with a windmill, Ellis Keystone hand fed thresher, powered by four large Belgian horses and a horse power, Large Frick or Peerless thresher, belted to a stationary baler, and powered by a large steam traction engine, or perhaps a gasoline traction engine, baling straw with horse baler.2:30 p.m. Calliope selections, 2:45 p.m. shingle mill returns to sawing cedar shingles; 3:00 p.m. sawmill resumes sawing of lumber; 3:30 p.m. stone crusher resumes operation; 5:00 p.m. grand parade. This is the time of the day that all the guests have been waiting for. The Grand Marshal has been quietly issuing orders, in the formation. The parade is led by Elmer Lapp and his authentic Conestoga Wagon Team which consists of six matched Belgians driven by a single line, and a Conestoga Wagon made 1828. Following is William Handley with a yoke of oxen in a log cart, hauling logs to the sawmill. 3-horse team hitched abreast owned by Jacob Mays, 2-horse team hitched to McCormick reaper, owned by Wm. Johnson, 6-pony team, driven by single line, owned by Allen Mays, 3-mule team, unicorn hitch, driven by single line, owned by Paul Waltermyer. And now the original Old Threshermen have returned to the days of their youth, as they shovel coal into the steam engine firebox and the black smoke flies from the smokestack, and an aged hand opens the throttle, and the large steam engines, under the control of the operator move smoothly to take their places in the parade. The Avery 18 h.p. steamer once used by Arthur S. Young heads the steam engine division and is owned by R&T. Peerless 12 h.p., 1903, Titus Brubaker; Peerless 50 h.p., 1928, Clarence Wyle; Peerless 50 h.p., George Derr; Case 50 h.p. 1916, J. M. Stiffler; Frick 9- x 10 65 h.p., 1923, Martin M. Weaver; Frick 8- x 10 50 h.p., 1922, Martin M. Weaver; Frick 6- x 9, 1916, Leroy Schannager; Peerless TT, 1910, Fred Lawton Family; Case 40 h.p., Samuel Kriebl; Peerless 50 h.p., 1928, Mervin Grubb; this is the last peerless traction ever made. Frick 9- x 10 65 h.p., 1916, Emanuel Nafe; this engine weighs 18- tons. Frick 7- x 9, 1899, Ross Miller; Farquhar 12 h.p., very old, Robert Lefever; Frick 9 z 10 60 h.p., Wm. C. Lucabaugh; Peerless 50 h.p., 1923, A. F. Harker; Case 12 h.p., 1894, James Zeager; Scheidler 10 h.p., 1886, Noah Getz. Driven by Noah Getz in the rear of the steam engine division, the same engine and driver who concluded the parade 25 years ago. Mr. Getz also owns the Calliope. An experienced thresherman stands on the rear platform at the controls of an ancient gasoline traction engine. His sons pull the large flywheels and the giant piston explodes, and slowly the great flywheels gain momentum, as the engine purrs happily. The trained hand of Lloyd Grubb disengages a wooden clutch, and by lever control engages open gears. His hand now on the clutch lever, this engine of yesterday, a 20 h.p. IHC. made in 1912 moves into place to lead the gasoline engine contingent. Happy Farmer 8-16, 1909 Amos Stauffer; Avery 5-10, 1914 Amos Stauffer; Waterloo Boy 12-25, 1917 Amos Stauffer; Frick 12-28, 1924 Wilmer J. Eshleman; Eagle 40 h.p., Leroy Ebersol; Huber 15-30, 1923 Lewis Frantz; Huber 38-55 HK 1938, Walter Harris; Oil Pull Rumley 30-60, C. E. Stambaugh; Oil Pull Rumley 16-30, Wm. C. Lucabaugh; Oil Pull Rumley 25-40, Lt. Paul Hahn; Case 22-40, Titus Brubaker, Jr.; Hart Parr 28-50, 1928, Otis Astle; Hart Parr 18-36, 1930, Otis Astle; Oil Pull Rumley, Alvin Ebersol; Oil Pull Rumley, Abe Herr; Baker 25-50, 1920, Robert Lefever; Hart Parr 12-24, A. D. Mast.
In addition to the above mentioned antiques there was about 35 more modern tractors and garden tractors, but space does not permit the mention of them all.
By the time President Dan Bru-Brubaker passed the reviewing stand with his Model C Case, the Grand Parade was brought to a close. When all engines had returned to their places of origin it was time for the Supper Whistle at 5 p.m. At 6 p.m. an informal program as announced by the microphone each evening.
On Saturday as an annual event a large quilt, which is made on the grounds by local ladies and guests, is auctioned off to the highest bidder. It is a beautiful piece of workmanship.
As the last day of the Reunion draws to a close the voice of the announcer proclaims the end of the 25th Annual Old Threshermens Reunion. Everyone hopes he will be able to return in 1974.