1625 Georgie Avenue Marysville, Michigan 48040
In the Nov.-Dec. 1969 issue of the Iron Men Album on page 36 there appears an article by A. H. Borstad entitled 'Some Memories of Happy Days.' This is a well written and interesting article, as are all those in IMA, however, I believe the author made a few incorrect statements. He had discussed some of the various companies and in particular the Port Huron Engine and Thresher Co. He discussed their weak Company-Agent contacts. The PHE & T Company, as did many other companies, had regular agents and warehouses throughout the wheat area and in Canada, Mexico, and South America. The PHE & T Co., may have had some weak agents but no weak contracts or equipment. In 1885 the company hired canvassers, mainly in Eastern Michigan, to go directly to the farmers, and all these agents reported directly to the home office.
Records show regular company agents in Port Huron, Michigan, and in Sarnia, OntarioSt. Louis, Mo.,Peoria, Ill., Winnipeg, Manitoba, Minneapolis, Minn. Fargo, N.D.Des Moines, Iowa-Wichita, Kansas Lincoln, Neb .Indianapolis, Ind. Toledo, Ohio Manitowac, Wisconsin Atlanta, Ga.Dallas, Tex.-San Francisco, California, Calif. Los Angeles, CaiPortland, Oregon Denver, Colorado Pittsburg, Penn and Baton Rouge, La. The Foreign office was in New York City, N.Y. There were regularly attended salesman schools and other educational programs for the agents.
However, the main matter is that he states that he was not impressed by the Port Huron drive wheel with rim of cast iron and that he had seen many discarded cast iron wheels and that they were not good enough for North Dakota. He just could not believe that the PHE & T Co., would actually brag about their wheels.
The Port Huron Self-Cleaning Driver (patented by George F. Conner-Mechanical Superintendent of the PHE & T Co.,) was advertised as 'The Wheel the User Wants - That the PH'.
The Port Huron Lines, catalog, published in 1916 discusses drive wheels
The article states: 'Port Huron Self-Cleaning Drivers, as they are called patented, and are the nearest approach to a perfect wheel that has thus far been offered to the public. The corrugations in the rims of the PH Drive Wheels are fashioned after the mold board plow i.e. they have no corners or niches to hang onto the dirt. For this reason they will clean themselves of soil, snow and mud far better than any other shape it is possible to make as has been proved by theory, by practice, and by the continued use of the original shaped plow mold-board. Front wheels as well as drivers have wrought iron spokes with both ends upset, making liberal sized heads which are cast into the rim and the hub of the wheel. After the heads have been made the ends of spokes are ground bright, then dipped into a bath of molten tin. They are then placed in the mold and the rim cast. The next day, after the rim has cooled down, and the shrinkage taken place, the hub is cast. Shrinkage of hub puts a uniform tension on the spokes. The tinning causes the cast iron to weld fast to the spokes, making the wheel one solid piece. This means that they are more durable than any built up wheel it is possible to make of the same weight, width of face and diameter. Don't forget We guarantee the spokes will not work loose in rim or hub for 10 years. No built up wheel can stand up to them.
They may have worn through after many years of hard use on gravel roads but I never did hear of a broken PH wheel. The 60th year book (1911) of the PHE &TCo., was one of the finest advertising books ever published. The frontispiece shows a PH Engine in front of the PH (Conner) wheel. This is the best known engine action picture and is the design shown on the PH watch fobs and clips as advertised in the IMA. The May-June 1969 issue shows the wheel on the cover.
In another place the author states that the J. I. Case Co., did its best to clean up the problems of separating the wheat from the chaff with their excellent book 'The Secret of Successful Threshing'. I have several Port. Huron, Case and other books on the subject and related matters but do not have, and cannot find, the book mentioned. There definitely could be such a book and if so I have missed it. Possibly, he means the 'Science of Threshing' published by the Union Company of Racine, Wisconsin in 1897. Case had an advertisement in the book as did the PHE & T Co., and others. This book was by George F. Conner, inventor of the self-cleaning wheel. It was slightly revised and published by 'The Threshermans Review', St. Joseph, Michigan in 1906. The last issue had various pictures of separator parts as shown in the 1901 PHE & T Co., book of specifications. George F. Conner was the inventor of many items mainly along agricultural lines but he also worked on and invented a snow shovel still in use today, a beet picker, babies milk bottle and other items. The book also had pictures from the 1901 PHE & T Co., book to include cylinders, teeth, concaves, etc.
Mr. LeRoy Blaker of the NTA, sent me his copy of the Science of Threshing. It is the same as my 1906 issue. We discussed the article as written in the Nov-Dec issue and Mr. Blaker stated he had naturally read the Science of Threshing but could not recall the Science of Successful Threshing. If anyone has a copy I'd appreciate hearing from them.
The article mentioned that thresher manufacturers must have had great faith in their products. I believe they all did so. The PHE & T Co., Rusher advertisement of 1911 shows pictures of horseshoes, wrenches, steel forks and other metal items that were threshed by the Rusher without hurting the machine.
Mr. George Ferman Conner was born in Waseca, Minnesota. July 19, 1857. He lived in the Dakota Territory and also in Michigan. He died in Port Huron, Michigan in 1924. He served awhile in the U.S. Army during the Indian Wars, married in Orient, Dakota, at age 30 and then went to work for the Case Company. In 1897 he went to the PHE & T Co. He left them in 1914 to start the Gee-Cee Company making road machinery, saws, beet pullers, etc. Mr. Conner was a gentleman of the old school, well respected and liked; he was very active in the Sturges Congregational Church, Ravenswood Road, South Park, Port Huron.
Mr. Conner was a Great-Uncle of my wife, the former Jean Cleland. She and her sister were raised in Mr. Conner's home at 3803 Military Street, Port Huron, Mich. We have many of his personal items to include furniture, antiques, books, tools, and even his old desk and we both know many people, especially those from the Church, who knew him very well. Many of the old Port Huron employees still reside in the area. All are in their eighties or older but they have given me many interesting items about the old company.
The PHE & T Co., is still registered and the names 'Port Huron Engine & Thresher Company' and 'Rusher' are still registered so there is a continuous 118 year old history from the time the company started as the Henry M. Strong Company in 1851 in Battle Creek, Michigan. The name was changed to the Upton Manufacturing Company in 1874. They moved to Port Huron in 1884. On October 9, 1890, the name was changed to 'The Port Huron Engine and Thresher Company.'