About 1888 or 1889 my grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Thomas McBride
and their two sons lived for a year or two near Nevada, Missouri.
While there he ran a freight line and broke sod with a string of
oxen, long horns evidently, since it is said that some of the horns
overlapped when the oxen were yoked.
Mr. Warner Powell ran a threshing rig at that time and my
father, James McBride, a young man then, hired out to him as a
separator man. The engine was self propelled but was steered by a
team of horses or mules, the driver sitting on a seat beside the
stack. The separator was hand fed by two men, a band cutter and a
feeder, part of my father’s work. A slat stacker carried away
the straw at the rear.
After my grandparents and their family returned to Iowa, near
Greenfield, my father and his brother Otis rounded up a horsepower
and separator to thresh around their community. The driver stood on
a stationary platform in the center of the horsepower. Three of the
teams were furnished by my father and his brother, one to move the
horsepower, one for the trap wagon containing the sweeps, stakes
for holding down the horsepower, the tumbling rods, lubricants,
etc., and one team for the separator.
They soon disposed of this and bought an Aultman-Taylor rig.
After threshing around Greenfield for a while the brothers married
and the outfit was sold. My father then moved to a farm near Stuart
and then into Stuart, but he still went threshing when he
One summer he ran a road grader (Adams Leaning Wheel, I believe)
behind a Reeves double engine driven by his brother Ray. They also
used a big Twin City tractor for a while.
Later my father spent several years working in Stuart’s
Municipal Light Plant. Two 72 inch by 18 foot horizontal return
tubular boilers furnished steam at 125 lbs pressure for a Harris
Corliss engine belted to a Fort Wayne (GE) generator, also a direct
connected Ball engine and generator and an Ideal unit, also direct
connected. All these were direct current generators.
Enclosed are copies of photos of the old steam rig and the
Aultman-Taylor outfit which you may like for your files. I’ve
tried to decipher the name of the older engine from the inscription
on the boiler front but haven’t been able to read it. Perhaps
someone will recognize the engine.
You will notice that the Aultman-Taylor engine was driven
through a shaft with bevel gears which leads me to believe that the
engine was non-reversing. Was that the case?