A STORY OF ORIN E. SWEARINGEN AND THE COLEAN STEAM ENGINE


| November/December 1967



Special threshing machine

Courtesy of Clyde H. Clauer, Glen Haven, Wisconsin 53810 Pictured is my 1912 outfit, It is a copy as the original is in the Jamison's

Clyde H. Clauer

Neponset, Ill. Friend and employee of Mr. Swearingen from a personal interview.

O. E. Swearingen was 84 on December 23, 1966. When he was only ten years old he worked on an old Monarch Steam Engine. While his dad was away one day, O. E. and 'Oatsie' (his brother) watered and fired 'old Charlie' and ran it around a bit. Then they erased the tracks so their dad wouldn't find out they had run it. Young Orin used to stand on the fire door handle to reach the levers! An interesting fact about the pay those days, came out when O. E. stated he received fifty cents ($.50) a day while helping his brothers all this at the age of 12!

The first time O. E. was alone on an engine was the time when Harry Scaife ran a sheller and shelled around Neponset. At that time some immigrants to this country would talk to 'Onie' in foreign languages confusing the young engineer considerably! At other times he would have to drive through cornfields because the farm lanes were altogether too narrow to go through. The corn-sheller had only a hopper and drags at that time. It was an Ottawa corn-sheller, being practically the same as today with a few improvements.

O. E. was sent to New Market, Indiana with a new engine to deliver and then sent to Lafayette to finally assemble still another separator. He arrived in the evening aim located the dealer. He fired up the engine on a flat car and drove it off.

Orin recalls that he met a blind man, and also one deaf and dumb man, both of whom made engines. Once a Hubert needed repair. He told the men how to fix it but was too tired to do it himself. They wanted badly for him to do the job himself, but he told a plumber what to do for them and they were very pleased to get their engine repaired.

O. E. set up the new separator and bawled out the owner because the man started the engine and jarred the separator while O. E. tried to put it together. Guess what they had for dinner! Bread and milk! Of course the wife had gone with the buggy! Finally O. E. received a telegram from Colean asking One to come back at once to the plant at Peoria. Colean asked Orin how the engine went and he replied that the grates and wheels need to be corrected.