A Salesman’s Thrill

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A 1823 picture taken near Oil City, Pennsylvania doing contract work for the Pennsylvania Railroad Company. It is a Marion 60. Half circle swing. It took three men to operate it. Fireman, Cab Operator (Mr. King was the Cab Operator and is standing near th
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FEEDERS ARE BUSY Keeping the separators supplied with bundles of oats is fun, for a while. A number of spectators at the Northern Illinois Steam Power Club threshing demonstration near Davis Junction took a turn at pitching bundles. See report on Illinois
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Mr. E. C. Foreman of Tacoma, Ohio. He spent his life selling Gaar Scott machinery. He is now 83 years of age and enjoying good health. He is a Good Gardner and when we visited him a few weeks ago he gave us a generous helping of cabbage, corn and lettuce
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DREW CROWDS The almost forgotten farm operation of threshing which was demonstrated by the Northern Illinois Steam Power Club for three days at Davis Junction proved an attraction for thousands. Crowds gathered about the three engines and watched steam pr
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FIELD WORK Threshing operations are not confined to the barnyard alone, and this field work at the Lannert farm near Davis Junction was a part of the three day demonstration given by the Northern Illinois Steam Tower Club. See Northern Illinois Steam Powe
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SOURCE OF POWER Turning the 'three separators at the threshing demonstration at Davis Junction for three days were the steam engines owned by Newton Gould of Elburn, George Hedtke of Davis Junction, and Ed Smith of Cortland. All in excellent condition, th

Tacoma, Ohio

REVERTING BACK TO the year 1895 my mind did instinctively teach
me that machinery was to be my life work. Especially the operating
and selling of the steam engine and threshers it  powered,
which I loved so well, together with other auxiliaries the steamers

Somehow when we think of thresher salesmen we think of Marcus
Leonard and E C. Foreman. Both have grown in years with a kindly
spirit. One in the east and the other in the west. One in the
mountains and the other on the plains. Both are very good writers
and an inspiration to our Hobby. May the Good Lord Bless and give
them health and happiness for many years yet for them and us to
enjoy ELMER

Just recently, after sixty-three years, while pondering over old
time letters and inquiries asking for prices and terms of threshing
machinery from prospective buyers. Many of the inquiries were
interesting but hard to determine their actual worth of spending
time and money to run them down or to see the parties. One old and
half forgotten inquiry of June 1908, fifty years ago, deserves a
write-up owning to having sold a 10 hp. traction engine and a 24
inch plain thresher. Following is a copy of the original

June 1-1908. Please. Gentlemen, send by early mail one of your
picture books of steam turned thresh boxes and self run steam
engines that will draw the thresh box on road from stooks and
barnes to others. And make good low price spot cash set in our

Jane Ann and Jake —, West Virginia

The inquiry from this German family did seem like a puzzle. And
a question if a trip of quite a long distance would warrant time
and cost. A cash deal decided the matter. A worthless trip would
not be anything new. We took a main line train to a point, then a
narrow gauge for some twenty miles more. Went to a livery stable
for a rig. Everything was out for the day. I made known to the
German liveryman who I wanted to see. He said, ‘Jake the
up-country Dutchman who runs a thresh box. Shust a mile up the
railroad or creek.’ I walked up and found Jake, Sr., and Jake,
Jr., together with the wife and mother in construction in case they
had to run their old outfit, which today would be an antique of
real value.

The thresher they called a thresh box had at one time been
powered by a tread power. The upright engine had a beam and weight
for a relief valve. They were very anxious for a price on a 10 hp.
traction and a plain 24 in. thresher. With Jane Ann, who evidently
did have control of the money matters, doing most of the talking.
The price for the outfit was agreed on, but they insisted on the
engine and thresher being delivered in their yard where spot cash
would be made. I told them this could not be done. The rig would
have to be sent to their nearest standard rail-road station some 20
miles away where they pay freight and settle at a bank in cash
before unloading.

They finally agreed to these terms if someone came to run it off
the car and run it to their place with them helping the 20 mile
trip. The order was signed by Jake, Sr., Jane Ann, and Jake,

The last of June the outfit was set in ready to be unloaded.
Jake and wife were on hand. I found Jane Ann carried the pocketbook
as she paid the freight then to the bank to pay for the rig.

We got the unloading done by late evening ready for an early
start next morning. Before we got the outfit off Jake got somewhat
charged up on something stronger than river water that flowed close
by. I told him that if he were in that shape in the morning the rig
would not be moved. He said he could get as drunk as a mountain owl
and still go better than sober people.

The next morning Jake was right there before daylight and sober,
saying he was shust as fresh as a new potato dug from the old
German soil.

We got started just as the sun was showing over the distant
mountains. We made good time as water and coal was plentiful. The
only thing we could not agree on was he wanted to have the water in
the boiler to top of glass. I said no. He said, ‘well if you
blow my enshine up you pay me every tarn cent, if alive.’ Some
few miles out we met Jake Jr., with a good team of horses and tank
wagon. I insisted that they put the team to the thresher, the water
tank to the engine and a chain from tank to thresher tongue and
Jake, Sr., drive the team and Jake, Jr., fire the engine. The team
of horses soon got wise and let the engine do the pulling of the

Everything went fine until we came to a bad bridge. I would not
risk taking the engine over. They took the thresher over while I
hunted some way to get the engine around. I found a fording by
going through a German farmer’s land and using his fording over
the river. By the time we got the engine to the German farmer’s
place it was nearly dark. Jake insisted on his German friend,
Henry, keeping me overnight so as to have the engine ready to go
next morning. Henry said he was glad to do so.

The surroundings did not look any too promising and I wondered
if any live stock would meet me half way. There came to mind a
verse written at a hotel once which read

The June bug has a wing of gold,
The lightning bug a wing of flame,
The bed bug has no wings,
But he got there just the same.

The next morning we got over the river in fine shape but out of
coal. We had to use wood to fire. Hard to keep up steam. Jake said,
‘Is the en-shine worn out already?’ I found a piece of tin
to put on the grate bars next the flues. How that little ten fired
and made steam. Jake said, ‘Dam good enshine when you
know.’ We landed in fine shape.

Now after 50 years it is not likely any of these people are
living to tell their experiences of the 20 mile trip half a century
ago. Jake, Sr., was nearing 65 and Jake, Jr., was 44. To me when
writing this it just seems but yesterday when we started on that 20
mile trip that beautiful June morning. I can yet see the sun just
peeping up as I pulled the throttle on that little ten. Then steam
was at the peak of its glory.


From the DeKalb Chronicle DeKalb, Illinois, August 4, 1958

An estimated 8,000 spectators visited the Lannert farm near
Davis Junction, Friday, Saturday and Sunday to see the
demonstration of threshing by the Northern Illinois Steam Power

The peak crowd came Sunday when old time threshing weather, hot
with a brilliant sun, made even the spectators feel like they were
participating in the mid-summer work. It was estimated that over
5,000 attended the demonstration on Sunday alone.

The program, the second annual event for the club, was staged
with three engines providing power for 3 separators. Owners and
operators of the three engines were Newton Gould, of Elburn, with
his Illinois, the last one made by the Illinois Thresher Works of
Sycamore; George Hedtke, of Davis Junction with a Case; and Ed
Smith of Cortland with a Minneapolis engine. The separators were an
Avery Yellow-Fellow and two made by Case.

Seventy acres of oats had been cut and shocked in preparation
for the event and although it required some late operations, up
until 8 p. m., last night, the last of the bundles had been fed
through the machines when the demonstration was completed.

The Lannert farm provided excellent accomodations for the huge
crowd with plenty of parking space available, and a spacious grove
providing room for the lunch tent, operated by the women of the
Davis Junction Church, and their headquarters tent. A half hour out
in the threshing area watching the engines and the separators was
usually followed by a rest period in the shade of the grove where
soft drinks were available.

Two classes of spectators appeared to predominate. One was the
old timers, who remembered when they were active on the farm and
worked in a ring and had a rig ‘just like that one.’

The other group was the younger farmer, who recalled the
excitement of the threshing ring on the home farm but was too young
to participate. He was there with his son, explaining how the
separator worked, and comparing it with the operations of the
present day combine. Some of these men pitched a few bundles, just
to see how it felt.

Rupert Jordan, president of the Steam Power Club, said the high
interest shown in the demonstration this year indicated that the
club should seriously consider even a better display for 1959.


If your engines were not listed in the 1956 Directory or 1957
Supplement, or if there were changes in ownership, send your name,
address, make, hp., Serial No. of your engines to Mrs. LeRoy
Blaker, Secretary, National Threshers Assn., Inc., Alvord-ton,
Ohio, before January 30, 1959. f59

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