Veteran Subscriber Writes First Letter

20-60 case Engine

Mr. Somers 20-60 case and Red River special 28'' separator on the road to do a little threshing in 1964. The dog on the seat is Prince and he loved to ride on the engine going down the street. Courtesy of H. A. Somers, Andover, South Dakota 57422.

H. A. Somers

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South Dakota

I was born on a farm two miles north of Rhodes, Iowa, in 1893 and can just remember when they used the hand feed separators and the straw carriers. In nineteen hundred we moved to the town of Rhodes, Iowa, where my folks operated a hotel.

Across the street from where we lived there was a sawmill owned and operated by J. W. Garris who was also an auctioneer. He owned two steam traction engines and did custom wood sawing, shredding, threshing and sawed lumber every spring. I was right there watching whenever the engines were steamed up. The engines were about ten and sixteen horsepower.

There was another man in Rhodes that had two steam engines about the same size. He did custom work also but did not have a sawmill. He threshed, sawed wood, shredded, and hulled clover. At that time there was a lot of wood used for fuel. Mr. Dewey was the first man around there to own a gasoline engine which he used to saw wood for his customers. That was in 1908. These men made a living doing custom work at that time.

The spring of 1908 our family moved to South Dakota and rented a farm three miles east of Conde where I lived until 1918. When I came to South Dakota, I soon learned that threshing was a lot more work than it was in Iowa. I did not pitch many bundles but sure shoveled a lot of grain. I could shovel either right or left handed so most of the time I shoveled left handed as there was usually two men shoveling in the same wagon box which held seventy-five bushels of grain which was mostly wheat. I had my own shovel which I kept polished so the grain would slide off easily.

In 1915 my father bought a Bull tractor and a two bottom plow which we used several years to plow and grind feed with. It wasn't too bad a tractor for the money. We paid $675.00 for the tractor and plow. The year of 1918 I moved to Verdon, S.D., and rented a half section of land. I lived on this farm for nine years. In 1920 I bought a used 10-20 Titan and used it to plow and grind feed with until 1927. This Titan didn't hardly cost me anything for upkeep in those seven years other than one set of rings and one connecting rod bearing.

In 1927 I had a sale and moved to Andover, S.D., and bought out a Chevrolet garage and have operated this business until the first of this year when I retired. Forty-three years is a long time but I have enjoyed every day of it.

In 1957 I bought a 20-60 Case Steam engine and spent a week steam cleaning it and painting it. I had it in three parades and threshed with it three different years. I ran it out in the country three miles, two years, under its own power and we had a good crowd both years. We threshed just off of highway twelve and twenty-five so a lot of tourists stopped to see what was going on. I sold this Case engine in the spring of 1967 to a man at Selby, S.D., and he sold it to a dealer in northeastern Minnesota and he traded it off so I don't know where it is now. It got so it was too much work to keep it up.

The summer of 1967 I bought a half scale 20-60 Case of Lawrence Dahlman of Rosholt, S.D., and it is a perfect scale model. Have had it two times at Madison, S.D., and two times at Foreman, N.D. It performs perfectly. Mr. Dahlman has made himself a half scale 65 Case and it is just as good. I have attended ten different Steam Conventions, and some of them four different years. This year my wife and I were at Auston, Manitoba, Canada, for four days to their show and rodeo and they put on one of the best shows I have ever seen. We took a travel trailer and had a perfect place to park within a short block of the action. They have a real good rodeo the first two days. They have enough tractors and old machinery donated to them to keep a crew busy for five years to get them all in running condition. They also have a large museum, all under roof. I did not see a beer can or a whisky bottle on the grounds while I was there.

I saw an old engine that was made in 1882 and was never fired up until 1964. It was a return flue 14 horsepower Mfg. by The N. G. Peterson engine works of Sarina, Ontario. It was under steam every day. Not many of these engines made.

This is my first letter to the Album. I have taken it for fifteen years and am reading the old ones this winter.