Midwest Group Holds Eighth Reunion

Mt. Pleasant, Iowa

‘IT’S BIGGER AND Better than ever,’ was the general
opinion expressed by many visitors as they roamed the grounds at
the Midwest Old Settlers & Threshers eighth reunion, held at
Mt. Pleasant, Iowa-renewing acquaintances and meeting new ones. And
the town, the board members, and uncounted volunteers have done
much this past year to make it that way.

Over five acres of ground joining the park have been added since
the last reunion allowing more room for engine spacing, activity
and car parking. On this area has been erected an 80’x80′
steel building, first of its type in the state, to house display
booths and inside exhibits.

Five churches again served home-cooked thresher meals and short
orders-their high quality and reasonable prices adding greatly to
the enjoyment of visitors and success of the four-day reunion. The
friendly atmosphere and lack of commercialism around town and on,
the grounds, so evident that many comment favorably, are factors
responsible for the repeated return of visitors reunion after
reunion and the high place it holds in gatherings of this kind.

Although attendance has increased yearly, this reunion was
outstanding in apparent attendance. No count was available since
gate, amphitheatre and parking were all free. The added area
allowed more space for several engine activities at the same time,
and provided more ‘elbow room’ than in previous years.
Except for one day the weather was ideal and picture takers had a
field day.

Repeated showers one day cancelled the parades but did not halt
anything else. Between showers the engines were on the Prony brake,
Baker fan, and the large sawmill. Iowa’s Governor Loveless flew
in and talked with a large group in the Ladies Auxiliary tent, and
by public address to others scattered over the grounds in buildings
and tents. Folks wandered around and sought shelter in eating tents
and display buildings during the rain. Music supplied by an
electronic organ playing old familiar songs soon had a
‘community sing’ under way in the park’s shelter house.
They came to see the reunion and apparently intended to stay as
long as there was anything doing and they were not

Folks from over 40 states and three foreign countries registered
and took memberships in the association. Riding an engine was Elsa
Parvianinien, an International Exchange Student from Finland who
came to Mt. Pleasant as the guest of Rotary to make her home with a
local family and attend school for a year. She was presented an
honorary membership and spoke briefly to the packed amphitheatre
which gave her friendly applause. During the reunion the founders
were presented by the mayor; the awards for ‘Old Settler’
presented to Arthur Morris, 83-year-old collector of pioneer
relices, of Stockport, Iowa; an award of ‘Old Thresher’ to
each of the four Beck Brothers from adjoining Des Moines County,
all long-time farmers and thresher-men. Notables visiting the
reunion and riding steam engines in the Cavalcade of Power,
included Iowa’s Lt. Governor Nicholas, U. S. Senator Martin,
and Representative Schwengel. Leading the parades were school and
military marching bands. Other entertainment was furnished by an
Old Fiddler’s contest, a 4-horse Overland Stage, performing
pony hitches, old time fife and drum corps, and parade of the
antique car clubs flashily-painted automobiles of yesteryear.

Three floats prepared by the Ladies Auxiliary preceded the
Cavalcade, each drawn by a steam engine-one a pioneer school room,
then a sewing bee, and the kitchen where everybody works but
father. Vice president of the association, Lyle Burroughs, again
was the announcer describing the engines as they paraded before the
amphitheatre and naming the owner, operator, and riders. Fifty
steam and traction engines made up the parade.

Engines from near and far in Iowa were there, and from Nebraska,
Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio. Oldest was a 6 hp. Case
Portable built in 1873. Others were the 12 hp. Case built in 1886
which carried the mail to the post office; the 1901 model, 20 hp.
New Giant-one of 5 engines brought by Milo Mathews of Mt. Union,
Iowa; and new to the reunion, a 1903, 15 hp. Rumely. Several other
new engines were on the grounds and likewise farm machinery which
included two horse-power outfits.

In operation was the teeter board, threshing with hand and
self-fed separators, flour mill, drag saw, shingle mill, the large
portable Trout sawmill of previous reunions and several miniature
rigs. There were plenty of logs brought in so that the sawmill was
in almost continuous operation as various steam engines took a turn
on the belt. The slabs were buzzed by engine power as a pile
accumulated then distributed with coal around to the engines so
that there was plenty of fuel all the time.

The Ladies Auxiliary had a continuous varied program which
included cake decorating and small electrical appliance
demonstrations, home talent, a kitchen band and handicrafts
exhibited in booths.

Displays included antiques, Indian relics, guns, a carding and
spinning demonstration, rock polishing and a display of gem stones
and native rocks, cars of early 1900 vintage, World War relics and
pioneer home furnishing and farm implements.

Pictures were shown in the evening. These were of past reunions
here and elsewhere, and visitors had the opportunity to show any of
their own they might have brought.

As in the past, the quality of the displays and engines was
top-notch; the engines were clean and well painted; a few more new
and interesting ones added and everyone seemed to have a good

And now plans are under way for next year’s reunion. The
experience gained from eight successful years should make it
‘even bigger and better than ever,’ again. We’ll be
looking for you Labor Day Week, September 3, 4, 5, and 6, 1958.

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