Yes, we are here!

In times like these our hobbies become lifesavers. At GAS ENGINE MAGAZINE and FARM COLLECTOR, we have been tracking down the most interesting and rare vintage farm machines and collections for more than 80 years combined! That includes researching and sourcing the best books on collectibles available anywhere. Our online store is open and we are here to answer any questions you might have. Our customer service staff is available Monday through Friday from 8a.m.-5p.m. CDT. We can be reached at 1-866-624-9388 or by email. Stay safe!

J.I. Case, a Man of his Word

Entrepreneur J.I. Case stood by his products – and his customers.

| June 2017

  • A groundhog thresher at the Midwest Old Threshers Museum, Mt. Pleasant, Iowa.
    Photo by Sam Moore
  • Jerome Increase Case.
    Photo by Sam Moore
  • A circa-1885 Case return-flue, straw-burning steam engine. Although it was self-propelled and fitted with steering gear, it wasn’t intended to pull heavy loads. The engine was equipped with features allowing it to be pulled and steered by a team of horses.
    Farm Collector archives
  • The iconic Case eagle on a 1917 Case catalog.
    Image courtesy Case
  • The first Case factory in Racine, Wis., from a 1917 Case Machinery catalog.
    Image courtesy Case
  • A circa-1855 woodcut of a Case thresher and 2-horse tread power in action.
    Farm Collector archives

The year 1842 is considered to be the year Case Threshing Machine Co. began, even though J.I. Case didn’t actually manufacture his first thresher until 1844. Thus, 2017 is the 175th anniversary of the firm and a short biography of its founder is in order.

Starting out with groundhogs

Jerome Increase Case was born Dec. 11, 1819, in Oswego County, New York, the youngest of several children of Caleb Case, a farmer, and Deborah Jackson Case, who was said to be kin to President Andrew Jackson. Caleb owned one of the crude groundhog threshers of the day. The groundhog was an improvement over the hand flail used for centuries to beat grain from the heads, but after the spiked cylinder of the groundhog had done the flail’s work, it still was necessary to toss the grain and chaff into the air so the wind could separate the two, a process called winnowing.

During the late 1830s, young Case did custom threshing using his father’s groundhog machine. At that time, New York farmers were cutting back on wheat production, switching to orchards and dairy herds. As Case worked and dreamed of a more efficient thresher, he saw opportunity in the huge wheat fields he’d read of in the upper Mississippi River valley.

In 1842, the 22-year-old Case bought six groundhog threshers on credit and left New York for Racine County in Wisconsin Territory. Settling in Rochester, he sold five of the machines and did custom threshing with the sixth. During the winter of 1842-43, Case built a machine combining a fanning mill with the groundhog to separate the chaff and grain, but it wasn’t a success and couldn’t be used for the 1843 harvest. The following winter, several improved models were built; they were easily sold in 1844. These first Case threshers included a fan-cleaning device and the cleaned grain was delivered separately from the straw and chaff.

Interest in these improved machines convinced Case to become a manufacturer instead of a thresherman, and he moved to nearby Racine, where water to power his factory was readily available. A small shop was rented and quickly outgrown. In 1847, Case built a three-story, 30-by-80-foot factory equipped with a steam engine. Naming his venture Racine Threshing Machine Works, Case made many improvements in his threshers over the next three decades. He developed some of the improvements; others came through acquisition of manufacturing rights and patents.

A man of integrity

During those years, the farm equipment industry was rife with examples of patent infringement, and court cases of the era reflect many resulting lawsuits. The fact that Case isn’t named as a defendant in such suits attests to his character and honesty.


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!

Save Even More Money with our SQUARE-DEAL Plan!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our SQUARE-DEAL automatic renewal savings plan. You'll get 12 issues of Farm Collector for only $24.95 (USA only).

Or, Bill Me Later and send me one year of Farm Collector for just $29.95.

Facebook Pinterest YouTube


click me