1511 Iglehart Avenue St. Paul, Minnesota 55104 Dear Anna Mae,
The letter from Emil Kopac of Scotts Bluff, Nebraska, appearing on pages 20 and 21 of the March-April 1970 Album is interesting to me, because I fired a 12 hp. Stillwater Giant for my uncle when I was a small boy. You mention you 'don't quite understand it all.'
The Minnesota Thresher Manufacturing Company was organized in 1876 at Stillwater, Minn. They built Minnesota Chief, hand feed, gear-driven threshers which they sold with Dingee-Woodbury and Pitts horse powers.
Later, as steam began replacing the' horsepower, they began building two different types of farm engines along with a stationary engine for use in plants and mills. Of the farm type, one was the 'Minnesota Giant' built with a cylindrical or tube type boiler. It was a return flue, built something like the return flue Minneapolis or Avery which was to come later.
The other engine, the Stillwater, was different in the one respect in that it was built with a fire-box boiler.
The engines, mounted on these different boilers, were identical. They were equipped with the Gardner governor, reverse, friction clutch and drum brake.
Water was supplied to the boilers by the Clark Independent Pump which was a small steam engine with a pump built in. Both engines were equipped with a chain traction. It was a flat link, malleable iron chain.
Both types of engines were built portable as well as traction. At first both the traction and portables were mounted on wooden wheels. However, they were soon replaced with steel wheels.
All these farm engines were straw burners, but they were equipped with grates for burning wood and coal.
The Northwest Thresher Company took over the Minnesota Thresher Company, which I believe was just before the turn of the century. As Mr. Kopac mentioned, one of the engines they built was the New Giant, a gear-driven return flue engine.
Stillwater, a city on the St. Croix River, is twenty-five miles east of St. Paul on Highway 36. Northfield is about sixty miles south of St. Paul, so the Northwest Thresher plant in Stillwater was about ninety miles from the Northfield bank, which the Jesse James Gang, mentioned by Mr. Kopac, attempted to rob on the afternoon of September 7th, 1876.
Riding fine horses, each man wore a light summer coat that was long enough to conceal the heavy Colt revolvers they carried at their hips. Several of them pulled up in front of the bank. One bandit went into the bank and shot the cashier. At the same time, a barrage of shot gun, rifle and revolver fire broke loose from the window of a dentist office, on the upper floor of a building across the street. Two of the robbers were killed and later two more captured and sentenced to terms in the Minnesota State Prison at Stillwater. The robbery of the Northfield bank had failed.