1880 D. June Portable Steam Engine is One of Two
There are only two D. June portable steam engines known: One is in the Henry Ford Museum in Detroit, and the other is at the Auglaize Historic Village and Farm Museum near Defiance, Ohio.
The D. June steam engine was manufactured in Freemont, Ohio. According to information provided by the Hayes Presidential Library in Freemont, the 1880 City Directory listed D. June Mfg. “at the foot of Garrison Street.” Today, the foot of Garrison Street is a commercial area in downtown Freemont along the river. There is no historic marker or any other evidence of the original factory.
Recently, I spoke with Marilyn Wenner, owner of the D. June featured here, on her farm near Bellevue, Ohio, to learn about the fascinating history of the engine. “About 1948 to 1950, my dad belonged to a steam engine association and saw an ad in a magazine that an old D. June steam engine was for sale in a scrapyard in Pennsylvania,” Marilyn says. “I don’t recall the name of the town. Dad drove his old log truck, a 1934 Ford, and took my boyfriend (later to be my husband) along with him. Before they left, Dad nailed planks all across the bed to make it flat so he would have a good place for the D. June.”
Upon arrival at the scrapyard, they found the D. June had been disassembled, apparently being readied for the final scrap process. After looking for two days, Marilyn’s father felt they had located most of the pieces, and proceeded to load the log truck and tie everything down.
“There were large hills and the 1934 Ford truck could only manage crawl speed up the hills,” Marilyn says. “My boyfriend would jump out and run to the top of the hill to check to see if the road was clear. When the truck got to the top he would jump in and they would coast down the other side at a high rate of speed. They could not stop on the way down because the brakes were not good enough.
“My dad and I worked on that old engine for two years. We put in new flues and I had to scrape a lot of rust, paint and grease,” Marilyn says. “We drove to the Henry Ford Museum in Detroit several times to see the other D. June engine on display so we could check for the original paint colors and also see how it was put together. This engine was his pride and joy.”
Marilyn’s father, Gilbert Enders, owned three other steam engines: a Huber, a Port Huron and a Case. He threshed for the neighbors near his farm and also owned a sawmill near West Lodi, Ohio. Each year he put on threshing and sawmill demonstrations using the D. June and other steam engines. “The D. June would run the threshing machine real good, but not as good as a 20 HP Huber or one of the other big engines, I think the D. June was 13 HP,” Marilyn says.
“I grew up with steam engines,” Marilyn says. “Dad would say, ‘go over and throw some more wood in the firebox.’ I threw wood in a lot of fireboxes. It’s good that people can read about and see these old engines and know that they exist. I think my dad’s Case engine went to the Henry Ford Museum in Detroit.” Marilyn states.
Lynn Lantz, of the Auglaize Village and Farm Museum, told me the D. June steam engine is used for display only and will not be steamed up. “I do remember several years ago that one of the owners did build-up steam in the engine so that museum visitors could see it actually work, but we would not do that now because of possible safety issues,” Lantz says.
For more information on this D. June engine: Marilyn Wenner, 12013 Potter Road, Bellevue, Ohio 44811; Auglaize Village and Farm Museum, Defiance County Historical Society, Lynn Lantz, P.O. Box 801, Defiance, OH 43512; (419) 782-7255. Auglaize Village is located 4 miles southwest of Defiance on Highway 24.