The second reunion of the Midwest Old Settlers and Threshers Association, Inc., of Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, has passed into history and certainly made history.
We literally turned the clock back about 75 to 100 years. If Rip Van Winkle could have walked into McMillan Park on Tuesday morning, September 25, 1951 he would have thought he had just taken a short morning nap instead of his fabled long sleep, as he would have surely been amid familiar surroundings and surrounded by things familiar to his time, even to the axe on the wood pile, which no doubt would have caused him to rub his eyes, yawn and lie down under the beautiful and stately elms that grace McMillan Park to finish his morning nap.
It rained some Tuesday morning and our spirits were about as low as the overhead clouds but by midafternoon it cleared and it was estimated that there were 9,000 to 10,000 people in Mt. Pleasant viewing the wonderful display of steam engines, separators, antique farm machinery, and the old settlers relics in the shelter house.
Wednesday morning dawned clear and pleasant except a high wind from the south, but it was a beautiful fall day such as only Iowa can have, and the kind of a day that makes one feel glad to be alive. It was estimated that fully 12,000 to 14,000 visitors came in that day.
Thursday came in with a cold north wind that was very disagreeable and kept many persons away. It was a day such as only Iowa can have when the weatherman is in a bad mood, but in spite of the cold wind fully as many persons came as were present on the first day. It was estimated there were at least 25,000 to 27,000 people in attendance during the three days.
An actual count at the East Gate showed that in a little over an hour cars from 52 of the 99 Iowa counties passed into the park, and cars from 12 different states and one each from Ontario and Saskatchewan, Canada, came to our reunion. This was on Thursday afternoon.
I will give you a brief description of the many exhibits and the events each day, play by play.
Ray H. Ernest of Wayland, Iowa, had four of his eight engines on display: a 10 hp Frick, which is very rare here; a 12 hp Russell; a Case 12 hp of 1886, which is the only one known in perfect running condition; and a 6 hp Nichols & Shepard which is also the only one we know of in perfect running condition.
Milo Mathews and Son of Mt. Union, Ia., had four engines on display: a mighty 75 hp Case, a 20 hp Aultman-Taylor; a New Giant return flue, 18 hp; and a 20 hp Rumely.
The writer, of Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, had his 6 hp Case portable all dolled up and on display.
Clark Everts of Wayland, Iowa, had his 20 hp Advance Rumely polished up to perfection with its giant steam boat whistle, that led the whistle parade with its mighty blast that literally shook the ground and could be heard for miles. Peter Bucher of Fairfield, Iowa, had his 19 hp Port Huron compound dressed up in her best and a very fine engine.
Robert Willits and Son of Mt. Pleasant, had the 18 hp Undermounted Avery showing off beautifully. Eight other big engines did not get in due to transportation difficulties beyond our control.
In the miniature models, John J. Van Baren of Newton, Iowa, had his Case model engine in operation with the Case separator and water tank.
A. J. Goodban of York, Neb., had his small model on display designed by himself, and it worked perfectly.
There was Milford Bees of Franklin. Ill., who had four of his small models, a Gaar Scott, and an Advance, and the other two, of which I did not learn, but all worked beautifully.
C. B. Killing of Coal Valley, Ill., had his little cut out engine on display. It was a skid engine.
Harry Hinson of Jerseyville, Ill. had his upright engine steamed up and was busy giving the kids a ride in the two small coaches built and owned by Ray H. Ernest. I think Henry was the busiest man on the grounds.
I also counted seven other models of pop corn and peanut steam engines all under steam and adding to the noise, fun and smoke.
Ray H. Ernest had his groundhog thresher in operation, powered by two ‘cranks’, one on each end of the shaft; his chaff piler and the C. Aultman separator made at Canton, Ohio in 1861, geared for a horse power, which is the only one known in perfect condition, and his old Keystone thresher made in 1873, and his Westinghouse separator in good condition. Also his old wood frame Aultman Taylor thresher with Sattley stacker and self feeder, all threshing.
Milo Mathews and Son had a modern Case thresher stacker feeder and all; they also had the only horse power shown. It was a five team hitch and in good shape. We also had several others on display but space prohibits further mention although they deserve mention. All in all it was the finest exhibit ever shown as every engine was given a cold water test before it was allowed on the grounds, and every one was cleaned and polished up in splendid Shape.
On Wednesday, Martin A. Tollefson of Drake University Law College, Des Moines, Iowa, gave an excellent address, and on Thursday our fighting Attorney General of Iowa, Robert Larson, gave a fine talk. Also on Thursday, the Reynolds Fun Makers of Rutledge, Mo., dressed up in true hill Billy style and stole the show as they came down the midway in an ancient Model T Ford touring car.
The Old Settlers exhibits were housed in the two large wings of the shelter house each 60 x 30 feet, both full to the roof with spinning wheels, etc., and under the direction of Mr. and Mrs. Frank Johnson of Lock ridge, Iowa, the old spinning wheel was spent in operation and yarn made from the virgin wool while the visitors looked on in wonder and amusement.
I think the Old Settlers exhibit was the finest and most complete ever shown in the Midwest. It would be impossible to try to describe them in any detail and do them justice. Mrs. Milo Mathews captured the show here with her display of fine old dishes and ancient cut glass ware. Mr. and Mrs. Mauley G. Frazer of Mt. Pleasant, helped with the display.
Space forbids a further description of the fine display of engines, separators, antique farm machinery, tread power, self rake, binders and old settlers exhibits, but we expect to have the reunion next year and I would suggest to all our good friends who came this year to be sure and come back next year. And those of our friends who did not get to come this year that you come out to Iowa next year and see for yourself this great educational show and enjoy our Western hospitality and good fellowship that the association is trying to maintain in all dealing with our friends who visit us.
I think it would he decidedly unfair to close without mentioning that Mr. and Mrs. Elmer Ritzman, editors of the IRON-MEN ALBUM came out and spent the week with us.
Thank you one and all for 1951, and we urge you to come again in 1952 and we will try to see that you have a pleasant and profitable time. IMA
Herman E. Elgar was co-founder and original secretary of the Midwest Old Settlers and Threshers Assocation, Inc.