A Museum Case Steam Engine and Firsthand Experience with Dirt

A volunteer looking for details on a museum display Case engine and a reader's experience with British war-time agriculture.

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by Karen Cleland

Volunteer looking for details on donated Case steam engine to enhance museum display

I volunteer at the Siskiyou County Museum in Yreka, California. Quite a few years ago, a family donated a Case steam engine to the museum. No sign was ever made to tell about the engine. I’m trying to do a little research to make the sign interesting. The family said that the engine was bought new in 1908, but the engine number (10601) says that it was built in 1902. The engine number is on a cast iron plaque and all that I have seen were brass plaques.

I’m hoping one of your readers can help me. I’ve looked and looked for a manual of some kind that would list differences between the various years and models. I would really appreciate any help I can get.

side of a Case steam engine with green accents and red wheel spokes

Karen Cleland, karenschulsvig@att.net

Best and Holt article resonated in many ways

I found the article on the Best and Holt rivalry (Farm Collector, October 2021) interesting for so many reasons. First, the background about what the Stockton, California, area was like in the late 1800s gave me greater insight into the world my grandfather worked in for three years. In 1890, he went from his parents’ farm in Steele County, Minnesota, to earn money out west. He talked about the huge wheat farms, the teams of horses and mules that pulled combines, and eating a lot of peach pie! Except for the peach pie, your article described these things, and much more. My grandpa eventually returned to Minnesota as his father needed help with the family farm.

Several family members now live in the Sacramento area. When visiting them, I’ve noticed the big, flat fields where rice is grown. Now I can think about how the Sacramento River delta was drained back in the day, creating those fields.

I also appreciated learning how combines came to be. Our family has always had a soft spot for the only combine my dad ever had, a Massey-Harris 27. It was one of the first self-propelled combines to be operated in Steele County. He bought it in 1951 and continued operating it until sometime in the 1970s.

I am looking forward to reading Part Two as Best and Holt compete in the development of track-style tractors. My husband’s nephew worked as an engineer at Caterpillar headquarters in Peoria, Illinois. Yet another connection! Thank you for a very interesting article.

Colleen Hondl Gengler, Iona, Minnesota

Firsthand experience with dirt on the farm

I just got the September 2021 issue of Farm Collector and Clell Ballard’s article (“Where’s the Dirt?”) brought back some long-forgotten memories. The article on British war-time agriculture was also interesting.

I grew up in northwest Kansas about 200 miles from Colorado and 16 from Nebraska. I was about 5 or 6 years old in the mid-1940s. It was the time when the Rural Electrification Assn. (REA) came to northwest Kansas. My dad became proficient at wiring houses. He would first cut the holes in the wall where the switches and outlets were going to be and then he would go to the attic and drop a furnace chain down. My little hands would reach into the hole and grab the chain and then attach the chain to the Romex wire and he’d pull it back up to the attic.

On occasion, I would go to the attic and watch him solder wires together and finish the wiring. Often there was 3-6 inches of fine dust on the attic floor. It was a puzzle for me. I asked my dad if there was not a better way to insulate their ceilings. (This was just the beginning time of farm home insulation.) He replied that it was not insulation; it was dust that blew in during the 1930s dust storms. Then I would get a story about wet sheets hung over windows to keep some of the dust out of the house, and then other stories. The time came when I was asked, on summer evenings, to take a bucket and shovel and carry the dust out of our own attic.

I found out where the dirt was.

Ronald J. Williams, Manhattan, Kansas

“We lived our golden years when we were kids”

Thanks for printing my story (“Would eat you alive and not even say ‘thank you'”) in the January 2021 issue of Farm Collector.

In the “Memories of a Former Kid” cartoon in the July 2021 issue, the boy lost the race on a horse-drawn cultivator to a shower of rain. We have all lost that race many times over the years.

It reminded me of riding my bicycle to go fishing on Dutchman’s Creek about 2 miles from home one morning. At about 11 a.m. came a thunder cloud. It thundered a couple of times. I wanted to fish. Maybe it won’t amount to nothing. A few minutes later, it came: a big blast of thunder and lightning right over me. I grabbed my fishing rods and headed home (it was uphill three-quarters of the way). That’s the fastest I ever made it home on a bicycle. I don’t recall if I got rained on or not. I wasn’t worried about the rain, but I was really scared of the lightning. I made it home safe. That was the end of fishing for that day.

In the August 2021 issue, Wayne Beggs wrote a letter to the editor about preserving an International Harvester 14-disc harrow. I believe it to be a 9B or 10A. I am very familiar with those disc harrows. International made thousands of them. I have never found any tags or markings on them.

a rusty disc harrow attached to a blue tractor on grass

In the Piedmont of North Carolina, there were many 20-disc double-section harrows used behind Straight A and Super A Farmalls. My grandpa had a 10-disc for a Cub Farmall; it was the front section of a 20-disc harrow. There were also a few 28-disc harrows. I have never seen but three or four. I purchased a 28-disc harrow about three years ago in Charlotte, North Carolina, for $110. I believe Wayne Beggs in the August issue has got the front section of a 28-disc harrow. After all, 14 is one-half of 28. There would have been 14 on the front and 14 on the rear.

Keep up the good work. The magazine brings back lots of memories of the good old days. We lived our golden years when we were kids and teenagers and didn’t know it.

John F. White, Mocksville, North Carolina

Mail Pouch sign displayed at American Sign Museum

a black barn wall with yellow mail pouch lettering

I enjoyed reading about the Mail Pouch barn painting (Farm Collector, October 2021). I thought your readers would like to know that a Mail Pouch barn sign is preserved inside the American Sign Museum in Cincinnati, Ohio. I’ve included a photo I took during my visit in 2016. Keep up the good work.

Tom Gerow Jr., Cary, North Carolina

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