THRESHING IN YEARS PAST

Case engine

Courtesy of Abram E. Johnson, R. D. 2, Marion,. New York 14505 Willis E. Fisher of Dillsburg, Pennsylvania with his beautifully restored 65 Case. This engine is belted up to the Baker fan at Williams Grove Steam Engine Meet. This engine is also belted to

Abram E. Johnson

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Route 3, Monticello, Indiana 47960

Not seeing any articles in Iron Men from this section of Indiana, thought I would write a few items about threshing in times past.

In 1903 I was a boy ten years of age living on a farm near Brook, Indiana in Newton County. We had a large threshing run consisting of twenty five or more jobs on the run. Each farm furnished a bundle wagon to haul oats bundles from the field to the machine, also a grain wagon to haul oats to the elevator. The engine was a large Case model 1903 or earlier. Also a large case thresher. The engine had a tender with a round tank for water and on top a space for a considerable amount of coal. Have never seen a picture of just this type of tank in the album. In August 1903 a picture of the entire outfit was taken after the completion of a large job, showing all the workers and the machine. I was then a boy of ten, and at present theres only three of us left that were shown in the picture.

Our run lasted for about six weeks in the fall, counting time out for rainy weather. As I was too young at the time to make a hand I was always on each job and delighted in getting to set in the engine cab and get to ride on the engine while moving from one job to another and help around the engine.

There were lots of oats raised in this area at that time as corn and oats were the only crop, wheat and soy beans being unknown as a crop at that time. Crops were rotated each year, a field of corn stocks would be disked down and be planted for an oats crop some time the later of March.

Having moved to town at the age of thirteen years this about ended my personal experience with steam engines, but the memory of early times still lingers and I am still very fond of steam engines. About the oddest job that I ever saw was a steam engine engaged in was the running of a dynamo to furnish electric power for a moving picture show. The light plant in town was not yet finished and this engine and dynamo was brought in to use for a few weeks. The dynamo was located in a shed near the theater building and the drive belt ran thru an open window. In case of rain the whole operation had to be shut down. I was employed in the theater at the time. This was about 1910.

In the background, in front of 65 is Wm. E. Berkheimers' 50 beautifully restored Case engine.

From left: David Shearns, Mary Johnson, Jennie DeLyser and Abram E. Johnson, engineer, all of Marion, N. Y.

The engine is belted to sawmill. This is one of the most beautifully restored Case engines in the country.

After moving to Monticello in 1945 I became interested in a saw mill. Some time before the saw mill operator, Mr. E. Brumbaugh purchased a Baker engine of a party in Galveston, Indiana. This was some distance from Monticello and it took about two days to drive the engine home by road, having to cross a shaky river bridge near town, but arrived safely.

On arrival in Monticello, there was a tank car of street oil on track to be heated. It was employed to connect the engine with car and heat the oil. He received fifty dollars for this job, which was the amount he had payed for the engine, so the engine paid for itself on the first job. He then used the engine on his saw mill for some time.

When I began working at the saw mill this engine had been discontinued and the mill was being driven by an Aultman-Taylor gas engine mounted on skids as the engine had been dismounted from its original huge tractor. This engine ran good and did excellent service for many years. This engine was about thirty years old when we were using it on the mill. Some times we would break a valve head, the valve coming loose from the stem making it necessary to replace. Had to have the valves made at a machine shop as to new valves for this model could not be purchased. After operating near Monticello for some time, the mill was moved to my farm seven miles north of town. This required quite a bit of work moving the engine mill frame, carriage Track and other equipment. Also two small buildings. It took about a month before getting everything ready for operation and in service again.

After a time my partner became too old to work, and being in poor health I took over the ownership of the saw mill on my own. I operated in this manner for some time. One night the mill burned caused by sparks from a brush fire blowing in the saw dust under the mill frame. This destroyed the entire mill, destroying a large inserted tooth saw and a fifty foot drive belt. The bearings in the engine were melted and the solder in the tubes of the large boiler type radiator were melted. Did not try to rebuild the mill. This old Aultman-Taylor was sold to the Frank Miller Museum near LaCrosse Indiana, who, I was informed sold it to some collector near Decatur Ill. Thus ended an era of saw milling.

On Sept 2, 1962 was privileged to attend the Old Threshers Reunion at Pontiac, Illinois and heard Rev. Elmer Ritzman conduct a church service in A.M. I did not know Rev. Ritzman at the time, but purchased a copy of Iron-men at this reunion and have been a subscriber ever since. Two years later I again attended the reunion at Pontiac, with Harvy Nelson of Remington, Indiana who is an ardent steam fan and also a subscriber to your magazine. At your stand at the reunion this year we met Rev. Ritzman and some of the ladies employed in your booth.

'Fat Women insist that you take a second helping so they will not be embarrassed when they take a third.'