Aspiring Author Needs Long Distance Help


| November/December 1993



#1, Box 149A Ellwood City, Pa. 16117

I am trying to keep a promise I made to myself last year when I took advantage of early retirement options at the school where I taught for some thirty years. That was to do research and a book on the history of the Russell and Company of Massillon, Ohio. Russell was formed in 1842 and was the closest to my home of the big manufacturers of threshers and steam traction engines in extreme western Pennsylvania. That made them fairly common in this area, and there are still several preserved and shown in the area.

On my first excursion to the Massillon Museum, which is the major repository of Russell material so far as I now know, I was quite impressed by the size of the files and the scope of material they contain. One surprise I got was the presence in one file of thermo fax type copies of serial number lists for gas tractors. Attached to these sheets was the business card of a fellow enthusiast named Dan Black of Missouri. When I called Dan I found out that the material he had was from one of the bigger and more active branch houses, namely the George O. Richardson Machinery Company of St. Joseph, Missouri. They also, according to Massillon Museum materials, had a branch in Wichita, Kansas. A box of records has survived and passed through three or four hands until they came to Dan Black.

This situation opened a whole new area of possible research to me, and so on my next trip to the museum files I took care to record, from letterheads, catalogs, yearbooks and the like, as many details of the various agents, branches and such as I could find. The list appears below. My request is for information from fellow enthusiasts who may hold or know of the presence of old files or record books from other branches which may contain valuable information concerning the company and its products which may not appear at Massillon. I am not interested in obtaining the papers, but just the information they contain. This would assume that they hold some value to the persons or organizations who presently hold them. If this is not the case, I feel sure that they could find a home with the Massillon Museum or some of the interested parties here in the home area. I will be making this appeal through the hobby magazines, local newspapers, libraries, historical societies and the like in the cities involved. Any information, no matter how minor, could be valuable and will be welcomed. As you will see below, there are a of couple cases where the firm name and address are already known from the Massillon sources. In the cases where this is not known, even this information would be of interest. In the cases where a volume of material is involved, I may need to make a trip to look at it and pick up the information. Other times a letter or call may well do. Thanks in advance for any and all leads and info. Credit will be given for all help received. This will be a big job and will take several years to complete. Reply please to Tom Downing,, R. D. #1, Box 149A, Ellwood City, PA 16117. Phone (412) 758-8365. This listing is done by city.

1.  William J. Sheraden, agent at Pittsburgh, Pa., 1904; Austin St. John, general agents listed for 1908, also in Pittsburgh, Pa.
2.  Hopkins and Tenney, agents, Lansing, Mi., 1894.
3.  Arbuckle, Ryan and Co., general agents, Toledo, Oh., 1894.
4.  Co-operative Wagon and Machine Co., Salt Lake City, 1894 and 1896 yearbooks.
5. Kingman & Co., Peoria, II., and St. Louis, Mo., 1894.
6. Lindsay Bros., Milwaukee, Wi., 1895 and 1900.
7. J. Niebel, Hudson, Oh., 1900.
8.   Branch housecould have been called the Russell & Co. or Massillon Engine and Thresher Co., as below for another. A letter says manager was J. C. Mervin, a nephew of the company president in Massillon in 1903. Address 33 & 35 S. Senate Ave., Indianapolis, In.
9.  F. P. Harbaugh Co., St. Paul, Mn., 1909.
10.  Massillon Engine & Thresher Co., Chattanooga, Tn., 1909.
11.   The Clark Implement Co., Council Bluffs, Ia., 1909, Branch at Lincoln, Ne.
12.  The George O. Richardson Machinery Co., St. Joseph, Mo., and Wichita, Ks.
13.  The A. H. Averill Machinery Co., 720-724 Monroe St., Branch at Spokane, Wa., & Br. at San Jose, Ca., & 112-116 Ontario St., Portland, Or., 1909.

Portland is one that may well be fruitful of some material as it was reportedly one of the bigger branch houses. A picture postcard in the Massillon files shows a trainload of some 25 car loads of machinery on its way to Portland.