ORIGIN & HISTORY OF THE PIONEER ENGINEER'S CLUB OF INDIANA, INC.
Pitching bundles into Baker thresher on the Ed Ploeger farm near St. Maurice in 1957. Note: Two young women pitching bundles. This is really Women's Lib!! Courtesy of Jerry Moorman, Greensburg, Indiana 47240.
Greensburg, Indiana 47240.
The following article concerns the beginnings of the Pioneer Engineer's Club. Many dispute the age of this club as being older than 25 years. The information given below may help clear this dispute up.
In 1946 the Indiana Brotherhood of Threshermen no longer existed. Some of the members and officers got together to decide how to dispose of $75.00 which they had in the treasury. They decided to buy a gift for the oldest member, and a leather coat was purchased for Luther Caldwell, a charter member. A basket dinner was planned to be held at Metzger's Lumber Yard in Rushville, where Mr. Caldwell had his little 1870 Gaar portable stored. That day, in 1947, 50 men met at the Rushville lumber yard. They discovered that Henry McMann was the eldest and also a charter member, so another coat was purchased and the remainder of the money was spent for soft drinks. At this meeting they talked of forming a club of threshermen and sawmill men. They voted to hold their first reunion the next summer at the Rush county fairgrounds. The first officers elected were: Pres., Nelson Howard of New Castle; Vice-Pres., Fred H. Paul of Frankfort; & Secy.-Treas., Ralph Shelburne of Zionsville. Directors were: Eldon Myers of New Augusta; Walter Ramsey, Danville; Roy Mitchell, Rushville; Chester Franklin, Williamsburg; and Lewis Owens, Worthington.
In August, 1948, Luther Caldwell and Roy Mitchell, owners of the Gaar Portable and a hand fed drag thresher, along with Nelson Howard with his 50 HP Case engine, had a reunion at the Rushville Fairgrounds.
In 1950, 3 traction engines were at the reunion. After this reunion, a meeting was held at Krekeler's machine shop at St. Maurice, near Greensburg. At this meeting it was decided to name the growing club to 'The Pioneer Engineer's Club of Indiana.' This name was suggested by Howard Ewbank, one of our deceased members.
1951 saw the club grow to six traction engines owned by: Ralph Shelburne, Reeves; Tony Moorman, Advance Rumely; Ben Krekeler, Baker; Howard Ewbank, Port Huron; Nelson Howard, Case; and Lawrence Porter, Case. Mr. Caldwell had his Gaar portable, and Keith Mauzy brought a 6 H.P. Case portable. New officers were elected: Pres., Ben Krekeler, Greensburg; Vice-Pres., Davis Sullivan, Markleville; Secy., Howard Ewbank, Rushville; Treas., Anthony Moorman, Greensburg (who has served continuously since). The reunions were held at the fairgrounds in conjunction with the Rush County fair for 6 years, until 1953. No admission was charged, exhibitors paid for their own expenses, and only donations were accepted to help boost the young club.
In April, 1953 Mr. Howard was re-elected president, and Verl Maple of New Salem was elected vice-president. Other officers were re-elected. In February, 1954 at a business meeting at New Castle, Lawrence Porter was elected president; Ray Jones, Vice-Pres.; Tony Moorman, Treas.; and John Menchoffer of Indianapolis, Secy. Mr. Menchoffer served as secretary for a number of years until his eyesight failed him. The next 3 years, the reunion was held at Lawrence Porter's sawmill near Rushville, during which Mr. Porter served as president.
February, 1957 a business meeting was held at Verl Maple's in New Salem. New officers were: Ray Jones of Sunman, Pres.; Paul Alyea of Greenfield, Vice-Pres.; and others were re-elected. Mr. Ray Jones has since served as president every year except for I year, around 1964 when Meredith Wein-inger of Seymour served as president. 1957 was also the year the club moved its reunion to the present site at the Rush County Conservation Club grounds east of Rushville. The first reunion was held here on August 2, 3, 4 with 26 large engines, numerous antique tractors and model engines. On August 5, 1957 The Pioneer Engineer's Club of Indiana was incorporated under the laws of Indiana.
1958 was the year to be remembered weather wise. At this reunion it rained for several days. Equipment was unable to move and the sawmill was completely submerged in water. April 4, 1959 a meeting was held, officers were re-elected except Paul Alyea who was replaced by Lawrence Porter as vice-president. It was also decided to draw up new by-laws. The number of directors was increased to 9, with 3 new directors elected each year for 3 year terms. This made it necessary to elect 3 directors for 3 years, 3 for 2 years, and 3 for 1 year. They were as follows: 3 year terms Ralph Shelburne, Paul Alyea, Verl Maple; 2 years Eldon Myers, Paul Cole, Nelson Howard; 1 year terms George Meister, Tony Hood, and Elmer Ziegler.
During 1960's the club continued to grow and hold their reunions at the conservation grounds. The club is very proud of the many fine restored engines and antique tractors and models. The club is proud to still have the first traction engine, Mr. Howard's 50 H.P. Case, at its show each year. Dr. Russell Holmes of Louisville, Kentucky acquired this engine upon the passing of Mr. Howard. The little 1870 Gaar portable is now on permanent display at the Wayne County Historical Museum in Richmond, Indiana (formerly the Gaar museum). This was with keeping the wishes of Mr. Caldwell and Mr. Mitchell, that when one passed away the other would see that the engine went to the Gaar museum. Over the years many of the old members have passed away, but others have followed in their footsteps in preserving old farm equipment. The club has grown to approximately 475 members, from a-cross the United States.
The club's present officers are: Ray Jones, President; Lawrence Porter, Vice-Pres.; Eldon Myers, Secy.; Anthony Moorman, Treas. The club is planning a big celebration for their Silver Anniversary Reunion on August 3-4-5. We are proud of the fact that this club ranks among the oldest and finest organizations, with 25 years of prosperity.