Box 112, Minnesota City Minnesota 55959
I have been a subscriber to the Iron Men Album for 20 or 25
years and have enjoyed your stories and writings very much, so I
will send you stories of my dad’s threshing years with some of
my own. My dad was one of the largest threshermen in Winona County,
In 1894, he bought 80 acres of land in Eastern Mt. Vernon
Township with no machine nearby, so he found a used Case separator
at Case dealer in Chatfield, Minnesota, about 40 miles from home.
It took two days to get it with horses, it was then without feeder
and blower, until 1905 when a feeder and blower was made by the
Case Co. to fit and was added to it. The deck of the machine had to
be raised four inches for more capacity and new adjustable sieves
were added, so with a 36 inch cylinder, more than twice as much
In 1919, a new high sacker was added to make sacking easier by
loading directly in the wagon bagged or loose.
In 1924, a new coat of paint was added with Case decals and a
picture of it in the Case Eagle with close figures of Dad’s at
over two million bushels it had threshed the surrounding
neighborhood from the Markwart ridge north of Altura and the nearby
neighbors at home until more machines came to the Altura area.
After that, it threshed the Rolling stone valley and to the end of
Middle valley a branch off Rolling stone valley.
In 1915, my dad bought more land from the four large Whitman
farms. Their land bordered the Mississippi River and the Millwaukee
railroad tracks with switch tracks beside their double tracks and
next to that Lock and Dam No. 5 called the Whitman Station and the
Whitman Lock and Dam where the first Whitman family got their goods
unloaded by water and railroad.
And now back to Dad’s engines. First, he had about a 12 HP
Minnesota Giant now too small for the newly equipped separator. He
got a used Advance 18 HP, form the Case Co. in the Twin Cities. It
was used until 1919, when the boiler inspector cut his pressure
down to 100 pounds too little for the 36 inch separator. He then
went to Minneapolis for a larger engine and found an Advance Tandem
Compound 26 HP rebuilt like new and repainted by Wagner and Langomo
By that time I was the tanker and took care of the engine
between time with Dad’s eyes on it besides, there were very few
days all fall it wasn’t doing belt work in the neighborhood six
large farms to thresh, of least 200 acres each, with clover to hull
and corn to shred. Much Mammoth clover and clover was raised for
seed so in 1923 my Dad got a new 40 inch Birdsell huller to replace
the small one.
And in 1905, he got a new Port Huron corn shredder with self
feeder and did a lot of corn shredding every fall. We knew of two
more of them in the nearby neighborhood and they were not
successful if the operator wasn’t a good mechanic. Later on in
years, I made changes to the feeder putting in larger snapping
rolls and four foot long band cutters to completely mangle the
bundle with a mixture of stalks and leaves and what else. It took
dry corn better than a hand fed machine with no slugging, less
shelling at the snapping rolls, this all came too late as the corn
pickers were already taken over. It can be seen at the Mabel days
celebration with the Birdsell clover huller and Advance engine.
Now a little from my own life. I had to get a license myself, in
1933, to run the engine all through all the years until threshing
went out. Now it has been used for show purpose at Mabel, Minnesota
and close to home in Rolling stone Village Park. With the old Case
separator, we thresh about six or seven acres of oats every year
with plenty of attraction. Last year, we made ice cream with power
from the old Clark pump flywheel and had roasted sweet corn with
steam from the boiler with plenty of help to eat it up.
In closing will say my Dad died in 1932 at age 72 after he
helped with the corn shredding and was buried on Thanksgiving
I am now 82 years old and retired from the farm in 1973 after 40
years on my home place and sold our son Edwin the farm and all of
our equipment so now he has a license to run the engine and three
grandsons the fourth generation full grown to be with the old
equipment, and more four generation people that have fed that
hungry old Case feeder.
And to give credit where credit is due to those old souls that
paddled a rowboat across the Mississippi River from Buffalo City,
Wisconsin to Minnesota and walked two to three miles to our farm to
put in long hard days of hard work feeding and taking the straw
away from the straw carrier. There were about six of them in the
start, including a Mr. William Krause who stayed with my dad to be
separator man (a much better job) until 1912, when a Mr. Emil Nor
by, then a young man took over the care of the separator until
1968. Then Mr. Clarence Angst, a car mechanic from Winona,
Minnesota took over the engine and I the separator until the
combines took over.
All were great men and should not be forgotten by the ones still
living and prayed for all the good they have done to make this
country what it has grown to be, hoping and praying that one day we
will be with them in the glories of heaven.
P. S. The Engine No. is not knownthe No. plate was removed some
time before my Father got it.