12302 N. Prairie Road Nashville, Illinois 62263
Lyman Knapp operating his 1892 Canton Aultman steam engine at
the 1988 Pawnee Show. He valued this rare engine for its unique
design instead of collector popularity.
On June 17, 1998, Lyman Knapp was laid to rest in Blackwell,
Oklahoma. The church was filled to capacity with admiring friends,
including those from several states around Oklahoma.
Lyman was active in farming all his life and was a past chairman
of the American Agriculture Movement. He was a member of the
Horseless Carriage Club of America, The Old Settlers Club, The Sons
of the American Revolution, The Auburn-Card-Duesenberg Club, Two
Cylinder Club, Case Heritage Club, The Top of Oklahoma Historical
Society, and the Tonkawa Historical Society. He was a past officer
of the Oklahoma Steam Threshing and Gas Engine Association, The
Model T Club, and Cher-O-Kan. He was also noted for building the
Rix-Knapp Crawler tractor in the 1960s, the only tractor ever built
Lyman leaves his wife, Myrle, two daughters, Evelyn and Carolyn,
one adopted daughter, April, seven grandchildren, and nine great
The pastor included in the service several people from the
congregation to speak of Lyman’s widely known life. There were
three from the congregation who gave heartfelt comments on
Lyman’s great help and leadership to the American agriculture
cause on the Washington, D.C. level, on the state level, and on the
local level. Those efforts were well expressed with great and
emotional thanks to Lyman Knapp.
From the pulpit there were also three, beginning with Chady
Atteberry’s sister, Mrs. Eugenia Fultz, of Wichita. She spoke
of living near Lyman during childhood times and covered events of
their growing up, a period when Lyman’s character already stood
out so clearly. She also spoke of events of some years
Then Chady spoke from notes, but in detail, about a full life of
associating with Lyman. There were many memories and historical
points about Lyman that began during the early years, of
Lyman’s education, and of the early cars that he appreciated
and drove. There was the well-known period when Lyman and his
brother Elliott ‘Bud’ were farming together. Their tractors
included a Cat 60 and an early Model E 30-60 Oil-Pull, which helped
build a military base in World War II.
The marriage to Myrle started with their honeymoon, traveling in
a fine Auburn car that the family still has which they drove on
both their 50th and their 60th wedding anniversaries. Lyman and
Myrle were completely devoted to each other throughout their
marriage of 62 years. They were a great inspiration to many.
Chady spoke of many early interests and activities that he and
Lyman shared in finding historic steam engines and cars, plus the
purchases and restorations that took place. Much of this was about
the Auburn, including the early 1909 model that Lyman had and the
late, very high performance V-12 Auburns, the big limousines and
the famous Speedster, both of which Lyman owned.
He spoke of the widespread activities Lyman had in Kansas with
Harold Ottaway and Herb Ottaway in the joint efforts to put on
those well-known early Wichita shows at Joyland Park. In addition,
there was the vast history of Lyman’s activities in the first
Oklahoma shows that were followed by the Pawnee shows through May
Following Chady, I had the honor to make these points:
We are gathered here to honor Lyman Knapp, to express our deep
respect for Lyman Knapp, and to share our long and deep friendship
with Lyman Knapp.
Lyman is closely linked to Oklahoma history. First, through the
Historical Oklahoma Land Run of 1893, in which his father
participated, then, that is followed by Lyman’s life we all
know so well.
Lyman understood the importance of our heritage and he greatly
respected it. He was one of the original people who knew the
importance of preserving the developmental history of machinery. Of
the first were Henry Ford of Michigan and LeRoy Blaker of Ohio, and
about the same time, men in other states such as Lyman Knapp. He
emphasized the steam history that gave us the Industrial
Revolution, which changed everything. Then, he carried on through
the development of automobiles and tractors.
On the eastern edge of Nebraska, in Nebraska City, a special
event in 1862 took place during the westward migration. Mainly,
there were only steamboats and locomotives, but there was an effort
made to design and build a steam tractor for hauling freight wagons
to Colorado and west, in place of using horses. It had the
possibility of great improvements!
Lyman was quite familiar with that event and his strong interest
came out. He hauled a steam engine from Blackwell to Nebraska City
and he participated in their 100th anniversary celebration,
bringing his family along. That is a kind of interest and effort we
As Chady covered so well, Lyman and Myrle started out and shared
special interests in fine vintage cars all these years. Lyman
didn’t just collect cars, as we so often see. He fully
understood the importance of quality design, of good engineering
design, and of styling. Lyman had a great admiration for, and often
spoke of, those historic, fantastic Duesenbergs. He was widely
known and respected among many in that field. The hobby in steam,
tractors, and cars has grown fantastically and there were many
laughs along the way.
I first met Lyman nearly 50 years ago, when we lived in Oklahoma
City. June and I went to the State Fair all dressed up! She had on
a dress with fancy embroidery frills on the sleeves, neck, waist
and the hem. It was already dark and we saw a steam engine, so we
walked over. There was Lyman and an older man and we began to visit
about the engine. Soon, Lyman spoke of seeing it run. Lyman’s
helper opened the throttle and a big shower of condensed steam
droplets, all filled with black coal soot, fell on it! June never
did get those many black spots out of her lovely dress! However,
that was the start of a deep and long friendship.
As years passed, we shared many new ideas and thoughts. Some
We have quite often seen a well-educated graduate engineer who
can fully understand the math and technical aspects of a machine,
while he does not properly understand the practical side, or the
application details and needs. Lyman fully understood and could see
both, exactly, whether the machine was on rubber tires, or whether
it was on tracks.
After a few years, he and I became partners in a new tractor
development concept. For a few years, Lyman tested many of the
design aspects himself on his farm. The idea of a high-speed track
concept on a farm tractor proved out very well. We tackled a major
project in the usual way that Lyman could see as ‘anything is
We were years ahead of our time. Today, there is a rising market
for the Rubber Track concept and it is true that the basic features
Lyman Knapp understood so enthusiastically well are far superior to
anything on the market today. Someday, in the future, this
fact will be widely known.
We, here, can only speak of some high points in Lyman’s full
and respected life.
I am thankful to have visited Lyman nearly three weeks ago in
the hospital. He didn’t speak much, but kept shaking my hand a
long time. I told him of the Pawnee Threshing Show that
day he wasn’t there, when his 25 Russell performed while six
pitchers fed in the bundles. Suddenly, one pitchfork went through
the machine with lots of commotion and noise, but all kept going
full blast! He clearly chuckled and laughed, but could not
Above all our memories and comments, Lyman was a true gentleman
of scriptural character. He rarely, if ever, got angry. He was
proud of his family. He was widely respected and loved!!
We all know the Beautiful Messiah, that famous Christmas
oratorio by George Frederick Handel as the bass soloist sings,
‘When the Trumpet Shall Sound.’ The music and words refer
to the Christian doctrine around the world that speaks of the place
the great God provided.
Surely we can say, ‘Lyman Knapp is there!’