Variety of soil, depth of furrow, vegetation and adjustment were
factors in the draft of a plow. Sod, generally, was not plowed more
than three inches deep. In northwestern Iowa, in blue stem sod,
three horses pulled a breaker. In 1875, three yoke of oxen, hitched
tandem, pulled a breaker on my father’s farm near Aurelia,
The scene of action described in this sketch, was not in Iowa or
Minnesota, but in northwestern Kansas. The comparison should not be
made with what an engine did in Dakota, nor Canada, but with what
one did in Kansas.
In central and western Kansas, buffalo wallows dotted the
prairies. The ground, where those wallows were, was hard-pan and
did not absorb water. Heavy rains formed pools. Great herds of
buffalo once grazed on the plains of Kansas, drank from the pools,
stamped in the water to protect themselves from the flies and made
A dark green grass grew in those wallows and formed sod so
tough, the breaker beams would spring and the breakers draw into
the ground six and eight inches. Power was required to draw twelve
breakers in that sod.
In 1906, these companies were doing business in northwestern
Kansas: Advance Thresher, Aurtman-raylor, Avery, Buffalo Pitts,
Case, Frick, Gaar, Scott, Geiser, HuDer, Minneapolis, Nichols &
Shepard, Nortnwest Thresher, Port Huron, Keeves, M. Rumely and
Russell. Honorable men represented nearly all of them and were
eager to share the business. Those who did not, probably were
Reeves & Co., was the most wide-awake and sensed more
quickly than any of the others, what was needed in gearing, water
and coal equipment on a plow engine and furnished it.
The cross compound appealed to the trade. The intercepting
valve, properly operated was a good thing but when badly operated
on heavy loads, was bad on brackets and gearing. The Reeves
salesman on the Colby territory was a hard worker and successful.
Reeves & Company in 1906, probably delivered more engines in
Thomas and nearby counties, than all other companies combined.
H. G. Schnelle, Branch Manager for Advance Thresher Company
several years at Dallas, Texas in January, 1905, succeeded H. B.
Verney of the Kansas City Branch of that Company. Those men were as
unlike as two men could well, be but both had been employed many
years by Advance Thresher Company. No other Branch Manager during
the life of that company, probably, so fully enjoyed the confidence
of Advance Thresher Company as did H. G. Schnelle.
Mr. Schnelle was friendly, his office help worshipped him, his
salesmen would have fought for him, customers believed in him and
with him, a friend, ‘Could do no wrong.’
Soon after taking charge at Kansas City, Mr. Schnelle called all
salesmen and collectors to the Branch. Some of them had been
employed by Mr. Verney, and he, Mr. Schnelle, wished to meet them,
to become better acquainted with them. He told the salesmen he did
not want them to do service work as they were unused to it and
promised to send men to do that work. A promise he made good.