National Threshers Association Reunion

An interesting account of this Annual Reunion written by the Secretary of the Association


| September/October 1951


How many steam traction engines, miniature models, automobiles and people can be crowded onto ten square acres already containing' house, barn, outbuildings, sawmills, and two tents? The answer to this mathematical question was worked out at the seventh annual reunion of the National Threshers' Association, Inc., held June 29-30,  July 1, on the LeRoy Blaker farm near Alvordton, Ohio, where over 10,000  people viewed the large and small engines, saw wheat threshed, lumber sawed and engines worked on the Prony brake.

Mr. and Mrs. Blaker, president and secretary of the association, were hosts to people from far and near. Registration showed early arrivals to be Milford Rees of Franklin, Illinois, Arthur S. Kauffman of Mt. Joy, Pennsylvania, C. J. Butler of Baxter, Iowa. Following in close succession were S. J. Spurgeon of Birmingham, Alabama, H. H. Baker of Pekin, Indiana, Melvin Lugten of Hamilton, Michigan, William M. Jones of Winchester, Kentucky, E. J. Hill of Farbington, Kansas, Alex Lulloff, Kiel, Wisconsin, John M. Somers, North Hollywood, California. Some of the many notables attending were Dan Zehr, Arthur Young, Ray Ernst, presidents of the Zehr, Young and Ernst reunions.

The program began Friday with the customary early morning shower, which dampened the grounds, but not the spirits of the crowd. Opening prayer was offered by the chaplain, Rev. Elmer Ritzman, Enola, Pennsylvania, (editor of THE IRON-MEN ALBUM); and the divine protection and blessing invoked was evident in the truly remarkable fact that not one individual in the crowd (which included hundreds of children was injured in any manner. Since the engines had to be moved to be put on the Prony brake, the fact that this seventh reunion continued tile safety record of the previous six, was the more remarkable in view of the larger crowd.

A. D. Baker of Swanton, Ohio, (90 years old), one of the two living steam traction engine manufacturers, was photographed with LeRoy Blaker before 'Old No. 1', built in 1898, still in running order. Another man enjoying this excursion into the past was Charles Heacock, centenarian of West Unity. Ohio. Both Mr. Baker and Mr. Heacock are honorary life members of The National Threshers' Association, Inc.

Small Models included the 1/8 scale J. I Case complete threshing outfit, of John J. Van Baren, Newton, Iowa; the miniature railroad by Emery Ohlenkamp of Chicago, Illinois; H. H. Bawer's faultless Aultman-Taylor model; Dike Baldwin's 1/8 scale Port Huron with '1 mouse power'; stationary models by Carlton Weisel, a German model owned by A. Gaeke, and a number of other excellent models which space does not permit mentioning-. The saw mill, male and operated by F. W. Bloom was a chief attraction; also the hay baler by John, Eby, and the complete small model by J. D. Bowers.

Big engines pulling on the brake were the J. I. Case engines, Port Huron, Russell, Rumely, Gaar-Scott, Huber Minneapolis, Baker and Frick. Harry Marsh's 25-80 Case and John Harper's 65 Case, were both in charge of the best Case engineer in the country, Gilbert Enders. Michigan fans were proud of the fact that the 32-100 Port Huron pulled 120 hp. One of the smoothest running engines was the 23-90 Baker on rubber, owned and patriotically decorated by Forrest Williamson, with a rubber-mounted water tank likewise red, white and blue. More beautiful than new was Homer Holp's 16 Gaar-Scott and William Benner's 25 Russell, Irel 'Ashbaugh's 20 Minneapolis gave creditable performances. The 20 Rumely formerly owned by Emery Brindle, has a fond new owner, J. H. Whitbey, who has added a locomotive bell to his beautifully kept engine.