Calling All Kittens

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Ben Winter, who brought the ''parts'' engine.

Rt. 2, Box 6 Slaton, Texas 79364-9501

First, for all the people in the world who have the last name of
Kitten, we have a short story of your heritage. For many years we
have known of our family heritage from Texas to Nebraska to Indiana
to Ohio to Ibbenburen (Prussia) West Germany. Last year we had a
family reunion and invited the Kittens from Ibbenburen, West
Germany. The Germans came and, much to their surprise, they found
that the Kittens in the U.S.A., and especially West Texas, were
very prolific. For until a few years ago, they thought they were
the only Kittens anywhere. As it turns out, the Kitten family tree
can be traced all the way back to 1100 A.D. According to Josef and
Rein-hold Kitten of Ibbenburen, West Germany, the name Kitten came
from a description of the mountain range that they came from. In
Germany the valley or range was called ‘From Kitte to
Hollenberke.’ Hence all the people from that valley were called
Kitten. Also, as the researchers tell us, that far back the people
only had one name instead of two or three that we now have. And in
case you wonder, the American Kittens came over about 1850; Josef
and Reinhold Kitten from Ibbenburen are my 6th cousins!!!! Reinhold
Kitten lives on some farmland that has been continuously owned by
Kittens since 1100 A.D.

The following article was written and given to Joseph Kitten at
our Kitten Reunion on July 1, 1990.

‘Dear Kitten Family,

‘We are very happy to be here with you on the meeting with
the big Kitten Family. This voyage was an old dream for us for our
family. Even you have heard some information about our family.

‘It was not easy to realize this voyage. Reinhold and I have
normally to work, but now we are happy to be here. And today it is
much easier to come than in former times that’s only some hours
with an airplane. Your ancestors need many weeks for this way and
they had no comfort on this was, maybe no bed and maybe no home,
when they came in this country. But they have had much courage we
know it, they had founded farms and factories we have seen it
yesterday, and they founded big families we see it here.

‘And now we are feel us here like among old, friends and
relatives. I may say: It’s wonderful. It’s a feeling like
this: We know us, but we haven’t seen us in the last 150 years.
Your ancestors and we come from the same country, from the same
village Ibbenburen we have the same history.

‘A few years ago we didn’t believe that so many Kittens
are existing in the world. You have help us to extend our knowledge
about our own family history, we got more interest for our

‘And now you may allow, I say some words about our country.
The last year, 1989, was the most famous year, for Germans in this
century, I think. We have seen live a famous revolution, a peaceful
revolution. It was a time full of emotions. In the last year, the
East German leader, Honecker said: The wall will be stand hundred
years. When one year ago anyone say: In 1990 you can travel through
whole Germany one other would answer: that’s not possible, you
are crazy. And now it is reality: just this day, July first in
1990, is the first day since 1945, you can travel in Germany
without any personal control between East and West that’s a
wonder. This wonder was possible.

‘We in Germany have to thank for the courage of the
Hungarian government for ‘Gorbachev’s Perestroika’ and
for the long friendship and aid from the Americans that’s true.
Many American soldiers had helped to defend the freedom in

In the morning Father Marvin Kitten said: Freedom is God’s
idea. We thank for the freedom. You know, that many people in the
autumn of the last year had prayed and then they had gone on the
streets for demonstration. And now I say: I thank God for this day
and I thank you all for your friendship and the friendly atmosphere

Of the few Kitten steam engines that are still together, there
are some of them that are changing owners from time to time. The
last sale that I know of is one that was sold by the Eiffel
Plasterer Estate to Ben Winter. Eiffel had a few Kittens that he
saved over the years. He had #219, #148, and the one that Ben
Winter bought. He also owned a Kitten water wagon.

Another Kitten engine that changed owners last year was the one
owned by Wallace Freeman from Cecilia, Kentucky. Ferdinand, Indiana
celebrated its 150th anniversary on July 4th, 1990. The celebration
included a display of antique farm machinery. Since the Kitten was
manufactured in Ferdinand, Indiana, the firm was well represented
with two Kitten steam engines and two Kitten separators and one
Kitten water wagon. After the celebration Francis Lindauer of
Ferdinand decided they needed a Kitten engine for a permanent
display in Ferdinand. So another Kitten engine #176 comes back home
to Ferdinand. The reason I say it comes back home is that the
original owner was Harry Ruhe of Ferdinand. Herbert Ruhe was the
next owner and then it was owned by Joe Lueken. And wouldn’t
you know that his son Merle Lueken still owns Lueken Lumber Company
that his father used to own. Remember that Joe Lueken used to work
at the Kitten factory before he opened his own business. So
naturally if Joe has a lumber mill that uses a Kitten saw mill and
he has not one but two Kitten steam engines and two Kitten
separators then his sons have full time jobs. Now one of the
engines that Merle used to fire when he was much younger now is
back home. Home was in Ferdinand and now the engine is about a half
a mile from where it was before leaving Ferdinand the first

Now there are two Kitten engines in Ferdinand and both of these
engines have seen many hours of work in Ferdinand and also some of
the people that fired them before are still there and of course
they ran them again. This time it was just for fun and games
instead of making a living.

I almost forgot to mention that there are two half-scale Kitten
engines that were made about 1969.

Apparently they were made by Joseph Steinhaggen from Dodge
Center, Minnesota and both of them had #105 on them. Joe
Steinhaggen died and Joe H. Cross bought one of the engines from
the estate.

And the short story well it really was my short story.


At this time I thought it would be appropriate to show my
updated listing of the Kitten Steam Engines since there are so few
of them around:


Year Mfg.




Jerry Kitten, Slaton, Texas



Leroy McClure, Colchester, Illinois



Reynolds Museum,

Wetaskiwin, Alb. Canada



Lawrence Troesch, St. Meinart, Indiana



Al New, Pendleton, Indiana



Bobby Plasterer & Alice Jacobs,

Huntington, Indiana



Lubbock County Museum,

Lubbock, Texas



Graveyard Headstone



Billy Kennedy, Grafton, Ohio



Edd Sigmon, Newton, North Carolina



Francis Lindauer, Ferdinand, Indiana





Leroy McClure, Colchester, Illinois





Hubert Reynolds, Boonville, Indiana





Bill Ruttledge, Dyer, Indiana





Oscar Cooke, Billings, Montana





David Sampson, Columbia Station, Ohio



Virgil Riggins, Odon, Indiana




Francis Lindauer, Ferdinand, Indiana





Edaville R.R., S. Carver, Massachusetts





Alice Jacobs, Huntington, Indiana



Charles Scafer, Argus, Indiana



Ben Winter, Candleburg, Illinois

TOTAL: 22 Kitten Steam Engines so far.

Farm Collector Magazine
Farm Collector Magazine
Dedicated to the Preservation of Vintage Farm Equipment