An Old Pump with Family Ties

Bob Beardslee found an old hand pump treasure with his name cast into it

| June 1999

  • Bob Beardslee with his namesake pump.
    Bob Beardslee with his namesake pump.
    Photo submitted by James McDowell

  • Bob Beardslee with his namesake pump.

When Bob Beardslee, Red Cloud, Neb., set out to find an old pump to use as a yard ornament, little did he know of the bonanza he would get. What he found was a hand pump that was not only in good shape, but also had direct family ties: His family name and home address were embossed in cast iron on the side of the pump. 

The Beardslee referred to on the pump was Bob's uncle, George Beardslee, a partner in the firm of Wolfe and Beardslee, an agricultural implement business that ceased to exist long before Bob was born.

Delving into family history turned up the information that George Beardslee was a pioneer teamster on a trail that hauled freight from the railhead at Juniata, Neb., to Kansas through Red Cloud, Neb., before rail service was available there.

When the railroad was extended from Hastings to Red Cloud in 1880, the wagon freight business soon dwindled, and Beardslee went into business with William Wolfe selling farm machinery, with plumbing and blacksmithing as part of the business.

Bob surmised that a dealer in windmills and pumps could get the firm's name and address cast in iron upon purchase of a certain number of pumps, or for payment of a fee. Perhaps other readers have additional information.

Bob likes to look at other pumps just as a matter of interest, but he is not interested in collecting them because he found his treasure the first time out.


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