Field Notes

Something to Build To


For those who live far from Florida, hurricanes are short-lived. For those left to pick up the pieces and rebuild, a hurricane is less a weather phenomenon than it is an unwelcome new reality. 

Such is the case at Panhandle Pioneer Settlement, a living history museum in Blountstown, Florida. Founded in 1989 by Willard and Linda Smith, the settlement operates through a land-grant lease in Calhoun County’s Sam B. Atkins Park.
There, nearly 20 historical buildings salvaged from sites throughout the area have been restored, furnished and preserved as a living history museum. The settlement includes cabins (the oldest dates to 1820), a schoolhouse, doctor’s office, one-cell jail, church, post office and general store, as well as an axe museum, blacksmith shop, cobbler shop, firehouse, gristmill, syrup house and a former school gymnasium.
On Oct. 10, 2018, the 5-acre settlement took a direct hit from Hurricane Michael. The Category 4 monster uprooted more than 100 mature pine trees. “You would not believe the trees,” Willard Smith says. “It took a week just to cut our way in.”


Beefed up during restoration, several structures appeared to weather the storm without significant damage — until trees hit them. “Then they just blew up,” he says. 
Nothing at the settlement escaped damage. “We did not expect this kind of damage,” Willard says. “But this storm was on the ground such a long time. It caused so much devastation [across Florida]. There are millions of tons of debris.”
The settlement is normally a busy place. Visitors swarm over exhibits. Classes for adults and children offer hands-on experiences. Events and festivals deliver family-friendly opportunities year-round.
This year — the settlement’s 30th anniversary year — most events have been put on hold. Reconstruction is slow and costly. Skilled labor is all but unavailable and material costs have gone through the roof. “The biggest challenge is scraping together the money to buy materials,” Willard admits. “I don’t know of any museum that has an abundance of money.”
But he has not thrown in the towel. “We go along day by day and it doesn’t look like we’ve accomplished much, but by the end of the week, you can see a little improvement. We built it from nothing before,” he allows. “Now we have something to build to." — Leslie C. McManus


For more information:
17869 Pioneer Settlement Rd., P.O. Box 215, Blountstown, FL 32424
Phone, (850) 674-2777

Send letters to: Farm Collector Editorial, 1503 SW 42nd St., Topeka, KS 66609 • fax: (785) 274-4385 • email: • online at:




Steam Threshing Festival Changes Dates

If you’ve reserved time on your calendar for the annual Steam Threshing Festival at Heritage Park of North Iowa in Forest City, make sure you’ve marked off the right weekend. Traditionally held the third weekend in September, the show will move up this year to the second weekend in June – June 7-9, 2019.

Photos from Heritage Park of North Iowa

This year’s show feature is Minneapolis Threshing Machine Co. equipment and Sheppard diesel engines. A Show n’ Shine Car Show will include classic cars, trucks and motorcycles. Planned demonstrations include working horses, steam power, prairie tractors, log sawing and planing, and blacksmithing. Author Leland Wyman will be present from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, June 8, to sign copies of his book, Minneapolis Threshing Machine Company.


Heritage Park also hosts a steam school each May, and a horse and mule event, Aug. 24-25, showcasing traditional horse- and mule-powered farming. Camping is available on the Winnebago Campgrounds adjacent to the 91-acre park on the south side of Forest City. For more information, check out the Heritage Park Facebook page or visit Heritage Park of North Iowa.


Send letters to: Farm Collector Editorial, 1503 SW 42nd St., Topeka, KS 66609 • fax: (785) 274-4385 • email: • online at Farm Collector

Volunteers Install Attractions at Le Sueur County Pioneer Power Assn.

Two new features – a late 1800s barn and a granary – have been restored by the Le Sueur County Pioneer Power Assn. at the club’s show grounds. The barn and granary are located at the south end of the show grounds.

The main frame of the barn measures 18 feet by 36 feet with 14-foot sidewalls. Hand-hewn timbers were pinned with wooden pins. Roof boards and other lumber were sawed at the Pioneer Power sawmill in 2016.

Photos from Glenn Holicky

The main frame and completed barn were restored to their original design. Reconstruction was completed in 31 days by Pioneer Power volunteers. A hay track and carrier were installed in the barn, which will be used for hay unloading demonstrations. Visitors can also walk through the barn and see many historical hay tools and barn memorabilia.

A wooden grain building was relocated to the Pioneer Power grounds and has been converted to a 1-1/2-story working granary. Owned by Dan Holicky and his family (Jerre, Alex and Hallie), it is being used for milling feed and seed.

Dan added a lean-to and a lineshaft (powered by a 10hp McCormick-Deering engine). He plans to demonstrate corn shellers and feed grinders there. A second lineshaft runs from the granary to a fanning mill that will be used to clean seed.


It is nice to have young members doing their part to preserve traditional farm methods and educate young people. These demonstrations and many more can be seen during the 46th annual Le Sueur County Pioneer Power Assn. show, Aug. 23-25, 2019.

Glenn Holicky, 36086 221st Ave.,
Le Center, MN 56057; (507) 241-0041

Send letters to: Farm Collector Editorial, 1503 SW 42nd St., Topeka, KS 66609 • fax: (785) 274-4385 • email: • online at Farm Collector

Recent Issue Spurs Memories of the Farm

I was born Jan. 23, 1930, so I have lived through a bit of history. Here are a few comments on the March 2019 issue of Farm Collector:

• Page 2, Memories of a Former Kid: In the 1930s, we got parts from the dime store and built our own radios. It was fun to sit around in the evening after farm chores and munch popcorn and see how many stations we could pick up.


• Sam Moore’s column on grain drills: We had a wood box McCormick-Deering grain drill. When putting it away for the winter, we removed the fertilizer spiders and gates, also the seed tubes, and put them in a container of kerosene to keep them from rusting. In the spring, the parts were replaced and one wheel would be jacked up so the drill could be turned to see if everything worked. It was much better than going to the field on planting day and have a part break because it had rusted over the winter. What a joy it was to plant oats with a team of horses. It was very quiet; you could hear birds sing and the ring of the dinner bell when Mother called us to dinner (now known as lunch).

• Clell G. Ballard’s article on heating the farm shop: Our local grain elevator had a Warm Morning stove in its office (the only place that had heat). In my spare time, I helped unload coal from the coal cars, involving quite a bit of handwork. They would get boxcars full of bagged fertilizer. The bags weighed 125 pounds each. Our job was to unload the fertilizer and haul it to the warehouse for storage until spring planting time. There were no pallets or forklifts, just plain old manpower. Two of us would usually unload the cars, one guy on each end of the bag. It’s quite a bit different today with bulk shipments; no lifting or grunting.

• Young folks today do not know what real work is. When I look back on my parents’ and grandparents’ generations, they worked harder than my generation.

• James Smith’s letter to the editor (Death-defying performance at the county fair): When I was a kid, an old wood-stave silo was set up at the county fair one year with an observation platform around the outside so folks could look down into the silo. Daredevils would rev up their motorcycles inside the silo. They would start going around inside at the bottom and as they gained speed, they would start going around faster and faster, finally going around at the top. It provided quite a thrill for the spectators.

John Heath, Sullivan, Ohio

Send letters to: Farm Collector Editorial, 1503 SW 42nd St., Topeka, KS 66609 • fax: (785) 274-4385 • email: • online at Farm Collector

Dynamite Fumes Nearly as Deadly as the Blast

Photo by Marv Hedberg

The article on dynamite reminded me how sick I got from the fumes I inhaled as I looked down the blasted holes the day I “helped” my dad and uncle dig high-line pole holes. I was about 8 years old and we used half a stick of dynamite and electric caps set off with a flashlight battery and long wires. This photo shows a set of dynamite fuse pliers and poke stick I have from my dad’s work for the REA.

Marv Hedberg, Rush City, Minnesota

The Homemade Wilbeck Four-Wheel Drive Tractor


I was interested in the article and photographs of a homemade four-wheel drive tractor in the February 2019 issue of Farm Collector. I am enclosing a photo of the tractor my dad and I built in 1979. It was built with McCormick-Deering W-9 axles, a 145 Versatile transmission and a 238hp Detroit engine.

John R. Wilbeck, Lincoln, Kansas

Send letters to: Farm Collector Editorial, 1503 SW 42nd St., Topeka, KS 66609 • fax: (785) 274-4385 • email: • online at:

Response to Letter Leads to New Friendship


I sent a letter to your magazine that was printed in the August 2018 issue asking for help in figuring out why my 1940s Case corn binder, that my grandpa bought new, wouldn’t tie a bundle. I received a letter from Eugene Gleitz, Lanesville, Indiana, with some very helpful information on what to check on the binder’s knotter.

He also included a brochure on an antique farm show in Lanesville in September 2018. Since we had recently retired, my wife and I decided to go to Lanesville to attend the show but mainly to meet Mr. Gleitz. He said he would be at the show Friday morning at the threshing machine.

Upon arriving at the show and finding the threshing machine, we saw about 20 guys working. I asked my wife which guy was Mr. Gleitz. She guessed he was the guy with the orange Allis-Chalmers cap. I asked a guy standing there which one was Eugene Gleitz and he said the guy with the orange cap.

We had a very good visit and he gave me more ideas as to what to check on the knotter and showed me on a baler knotter what to look for. He couldn’t believe we drove from Kansas to meet him and see the farm show. We really enjoyed all the activities and great food.

I was able to get the binder to tie a bundle of corn with the information that Mr. Gleitz gave me. I am now anxiously waiting for spring so I can plant more corn and see if the binder will tie some bundles this fall.

We may have to go to Lanesville in 2019 to see their farm show again, and to see Mr. Gleitz. Thanks, Eugene.

Norman Massoth,
Wellington, Kansas

Send letters to: Farm Collector Editorial, 1503 SW 42nd St., Topeka, KS 66609 • fax: (785) 274-4385 • email: • online at:


Farm Collector April 16Farm Collector is a monthly magazine focusing on antique tractors and all kinds of antique farm equipment. If it's old and from the farm, we're interested in it!

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