In elder years, to be a thresherman was deemed to be a
noted vocation. And the coming of the thresher and the threshing
day on the farm each year was hailed with joy as a gala day for
both young and old who assembled for the event. To see and hear the
old steamer, the prime factor of the thresher or other machinery it
powered, which we all adored. The past years have wrought many vast
and wonderful changes, one of these which was the dearest line of
work to many of us who owned, operated and sold the old steam
traction engine and its allies, the thresher, baler, the clover
huller, husker and silo filler, which one never grew tired of. Back
in yesteryear the good old days, a vast army of threshermen and
their help was employed to operate many thousands of outfits which
took both skill and knowledge to successfully operate the steamer
and its auxiliaries. And no greater line of employment to follow
for anyone during the era of the steamer and thresher and no
greater deeds for the inventor, designer and builder of these
pieces of machinery, or equipment for the thresherman’s use
which seems more a necessity than invention, to meet the growing
needs of the labor saving and speedier operation.
The old time steamer and the machinery it powered have vanished
into oblivion together with many plants building the old time
equipment and whose history reads like a romance.
In digging back through some six hundred or more thresher
magazines, dating back half century ago or more the grand old
American Thresherman, The Thresher World, Threshermans Review, and
Canadian Thresherman, together with information from old
threshermen, manufacturers and other reliable sources handed
Some 40 years ago many mammoth plants were building hundreds of
threshing outfits which the inventors and manufacturers had
ventured many hardships and burning of midnight oil to solve their
destiny and study out piece by piece for a complete machine to both
fill the requirements of the thresherman and farmer.
Such is the history of one well known plant here in Ohio founded
by Chas. M. Russell January 11, 1842, together with two other
brothers, Nahern and Clement Russell, who came from New England and
settled in Massilon, Ohio, in 1838 and followed the carpenter trade
until they embarked on the building of machinery, and known as the
C. M. Russell and Co., and continued to do so until the death of C.
M. Russell in 1860. At which time the plant was still operated by
Nahern and Clement until January 1, 1864 when the other brothers
from New England, Joseph, Thomas H., and George L. Russell joined
the company now known as Russell and Company.
In the year 1871 Allen Russell, a younger brother of a family of
13 children, became a partner and promoter, inventor and captain of
the industry as his six illustrious brothers all of whom made the
name of Russell a household word when it came to threshing machines
and where grain grows and power is required for operating any
From statistics and the realm of the seven Russel brothers,
together with J. W. McClymound, a member of the family, and J. E.
McClain, continued the building of threshing machinery, at which
time Nahern retired in 1888 and it is stated that the Russell plant
covered 21 acres in 1909, had built better than 18,000 portable and
traction engines, 22,000 threshers besides many sawmills, horse
powers and road equipment.
If history is correct the year 1850 a man who became a great
general in the war between the states and who later became
President of the United States, bought a horse power outfit from
the Russells and went by canal and the Ohio River to southern Ohio,
and later to his farm in Illinois. He was none other than U. S.
Many old time threshermen and others were connected with the
steam engine and threshing industry a half century ago. In 1903,
when the Thresher World magazine was having a contest for the
number of grains in a bushel of wheat they had on display, you no
doubt can remember the prize to be given was a 16 hp. steam engine
of any make advertised in the Threshers World. Mr. August Mauksch
of Springfield, South Dakota, gave the correct number and the
judges gave him the award. Mr. Mauksch’s choice was a 16hp.
Russell. The writer has the winners photograph and also the engine
shown in a picture in the World of September, 1903. Today the name
Russell, Aultman, Huber-Cooper, Kelly and many more who were great
inventors and manufacturers of this state are almost forgotten.