WHILE ON MY VISIT to the Witchita Meet, my host, Lyman Knapp, suggested we see Ben Markley's collection. I heard about the 5 faithful old steam tractors Mr. Markley had preserved from the ruthless junker's torch. Such admiration for anyone with foresight to preserve our nation's history when steam power was supreme deserves much credit. The racketeering and the false propaganda drive to collect for war purpose scrap iron were protested. Even those sincere ones acquiring such valuable relics were not disloyal in refusing to part with those honest possessions when such collecting agents for war scrap were unable to produce their credentials. Mr. Markley was ever on the alert. The valuable specimens of steam age were hailed in his wood. The entrance to the same was carefully guarded. No one was admitted without per mission. Lyman, being a particular friend with sincere interest in preserving the nation's greatest epoch in harvesting machinery, had no difficulty in getting through the gate.
At the entrance was the latest under mounted Avery running a saw mill Beyond that were two Farquhar makes of Pennsylvania production. Strayed from the Atlantic seaboard to midway of Pacific. The wood was more dense, grease wood and vines entwined the various makes until they were nearly secluded from intruders. Recognizing such as the Huber, Gaar Scott, Robinson, Reeves, A. W. Stevens, and the old Keck Gonnerman, also made famous by the Dutch, with an oak tree grown up through the spokes of the drives. Surely was secure from convenient removal. The Russells which never fail to arouse a responsive chord, stood as shrines in memory of the original Russell Brothers who had long since passed on to their eternal reward. The little 6 Case portable stood beside its big brother 80hp. Seemed almost to huddle beneath the wing of the famous Eagle Mascot which followed the Wisconsin troops in the Civil War, an ' afterwards adopted as the famous trade mark.
The Heilman was really anchored with trees of oak almost beyond disclosing its identity. This was the first product of the old Heilman line I'd seen. Their 1903 catalog I'd acquired while in grade school was was thumbed in perusing its pages while working in the field herding cows or at school, for which my mind reverted back with fond recollection. Wood Brothers, Pitts, Geiser, Frick, and numerous other makes filed the dense timbered Ozarks with bygone days that steam alone has romance ever to cherish in the hearts of men who lived in that glorious past.
We reluctantly left the shrine of yesterdays to be ushered into a vast collection of other relics near Mr. Markley's home. A wire binder, a reaper, dropper and implements of golden harvest days, musical instruments, guns, home furnishings of colonial days, school bells and bells from church towers were silent except in memory of the golden past, when people were gathered in worship, social activities and welfare of each other with neighborly love that is fast disappearing from old American custom.
In a mechanized age we clamor for excitement, thrills with commercial pleasures that fail to stir the inner soul. Whatever the future may have in store, the past is wholly our own and kept in fond remembrance by such foresight as Mr. Markley has.