Reunion Reports

810 South Judson, Fort Scott, Kansas

1961 was Centennial year for Kansas, making a very busy season
for the Harvesters, as they had many items desired in various
celebrations, also many items came out of the brush, weeds, sheds
and attics for restoration.

With some 200 members, a very busy season ahead, our attorney
recommended and proceeded to complete our incorporation papers and
formality of setting up several thousand shares of stock for sale
for the purpose of obtaining more equipment and to cover expense of
restoration, our 1961 quota was over subscribed at our first
meeting and sure helped several individuals to obtain and restore
pieces of equipment that otherwise would have been impossible. Our
stock plan sure promises to be a very attractive one and we feel it
will do much in adding more equipment to our display during
1962.

The 19th and 20th of May were the dates set for the first
centennial celebration in this territory at Cato, a town or
community most of us had never heard of, did not know where it was
located, it did not appear on any of the convenient maps. Cato is
located some 14 miles south and 2 miles west of Fort Scott, in the
brush and weeds. Outside of a comparatively new church constructed
some 50 years ago there are only two buildings left there – an old
store built of native brick, and a school building built of stone
from a nearby cliff. The store and school have not been used for
years but are in a fair state of repair. They were built on
opposite sides of the Old Military Trail, that ran from Fort
Leavenworth, (near Kansas City) to Fort Gibson, Indian Territory,
(Okla.) Except for a very active church group, Cato had been
deserted for years. It was a thriving town in the wagon trail days
that became a victim of desertion when new towns sprang up around
with Railroad service. But Cato was picked as a promising location
for a Centennial celebration because of these facts. It was proven
to be good judgment to select this location, except that it was
disappointing to many sightseers who could not get there because of
the crowd.

The Centennial Committee for Cato cut brush, weeds, graded roads
and put up signs, constructed a one room log cabin, equipped it
with furnishings of over a century ago, constructed a speakers’
stand, wired the grounds for electric lights and tended to the
million other chores in preparation.

The Pioneer Harvesters did their chores, too. In addition to
having several members on the Centennial Committee, we had members
who had items to prepare for display, members to prepare display
settings such as the constructing of a brush shed for the
blacksmith shop, (the first blacksmith, we were told, came to Cato
in a covered wagon, set his tools up under a brush shed, and lived
in the wagon.) Later at this point he constructed a permanent shop,
the foundation which was of stone had been covered with dirt for
many years. But when digging the holes for the new brush shed
poles, we found the stone of the old blacksmith shop foundation, so
were of the feeling that our shed was close to the old original
brush shed location.

Spring showers were plentiful, also all that goes with the
showers, streams overflowing, washouts and hot sultry days all took
their toll of delaying a busy schedule along with a fresh crop of
mosquitoes – well, we itched for it and we were willing to scratch
for it. We found out that even the rain and mud help to get a good
job done on painting a steam engine -don’t know if it will work
on anything other than a Port Huron. Haven’t tried it.

We selected Carl Fisher’s 19-65 Port Huron engine for the
steamer and the Pioneer Harvest Fiesta’s 36×62 Aultman-Taylor
separator for the threshing scene, located near the center of the
grounds. They sure made a fine looking pair at each end of that
long drive belt.

Other Pioneer Harvesters displaying their prize items included
Johnnie Merietta, Pittsburg, with his newly restored one horse
steam popcorn wagon, a beautiful piece of equipment, John Markley,
McCune, with his Parker merry-go-round steam engine and several
rare pieces of farm machinery, John Carlson, Cherokee, a 50 year
old grain binder, powered with a small electric motor for slow
motion, Allen Smith, McCune, had his scale model of a 65 Case
steamer completed and made a nice show piece, Raymond Pellet, Fort
Scott, had his very interesting collection of stamps, documents,
pictures and many other items on display in the Museum Tent. Ray
also served on the tent committee, which displayed one of the
biggest and best temporary collections that I have ever seen.

This Centennial Committee was headed up by Alva Smith, Girard.
Alva is Promotion Chairman of the Pioneer Harvest Fiesta Inc. for
Crawford County. Alva enjoys festivities of constructive nature,
likes to see them successful, has been around enough to know there
is no substitute for work and hard work. No doubt that is the
reason he likes shows and why he has a lot of interest stirred up
in Crawford County.

In concluding the first of a series of events of the Pioneer
Harvesters for 1961, Cato was a grand success, a capacity crowd,
ideal weather and more to follow.

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