Case Steam Engine Collecting

The Steam Engine Collecting of Glen J. Brutus

| January/February 2000

In 1955, American author Anne Morrow Lindbergh wrote, "One cannot collect all the beautiful shells on the beach." With equal truth, she might have written, "One cannot collect all the beautiful Case steam engines in America." All the same, Glen J. Brutus of Pine Village, Indiana, collected as many Case steam engines as he could.

The peaceful 1950s had just begun. Home from harrowing experiences in World War II, Glen attended the Indiana State Fair in 1950. At a booth, he picked up a copy of The Iron-Men Album, a magazine devoted to steam engines, primarily those used for agricultural purposes. Glen's memories of steam power extended back to his childhood. "Jake St. John," Glen recalled during an interview on June 6, 1999, "was running his sixteen-horsepower Nichols and Shepard engine along the road. He stopped that bugger and set me up on it." Jake then took Glen for a ride. "That was in 1925 or 1926, along in there. I hadn't started to school yet." Even with his early introduction to steam engines, Glen had not thought to buy one not until he saw the Album, that is.

Bitten by the steam bug, Glen bought his first steamer in Mexico, Missouri: a 40-horsepower Case traction engine, serial number 34091, built on March 7, 1917. His father, Arba, disapproved of collecting steam engines and warned Glen not to bring one to the home farm. For that reason, Glen kept his new big toy at his fiancee's parents' house in town.

Jessie Cook, an experienced steam man, and James Elmore, math and science teacher who had helped his father farm with Gaar-Scott engines, lent their expertise when Glen first learned to fire up his Case. "About a year later, I got brave enough to take it out to the home place," Glen said. By then, his father had relented on the issue of the steam-engine hobby, commenting to Glen's in-laws, "He could be doing something a lot worse." Later, Glen sold the 40 Case to Leonard Mann, also of Pine Village, who made it the centerpiece of an annual threshing bee at the Mann farm. The engine sold again, this time at auction in 1988.

On his honeymoon, Glen bought a 6-horsepower Case portable, serial number 19661, boiler number 8382, built in 1908, in Attalla, Alabama. T. S. "Windy" Stingle, who as a young man attended one of B. B. Clarke's steam schools held in Indianapolis, had told Glen where to find the engine.

Engines were in Glen's blood. After all, his grandmother Brutus's sister's husband, George Clawson, was an employee of the Atlas Engine Works in northeastern Indianapolis. Glen often traveled to Kentucky on weekends to look for engines. He crossed a river on a ferryboat which operated by means of a wooden lever which worked back and forth along a rope strung through it from one shore to the other. On a tip from Roselle Raisch of Mt. Healthy, Ohio, Glen found another 6-horsepower Case portable, serial number 24437, built in 1911, in Nicholasville, Kentucky. To get the engine, Glen traded a 23-90 Baker boiler on rubber wheels; the Baker's new owner wanted the boiler to melt tar. Eventually, Glen sold the more recent Case portable to Leonard Mann.