Sixth Generation of Steam

Six Generations on, one Family is Still Steaming in Missouri

| September/October 2004

  • Double-cylinder Keck-Gonnerman

  • John DeGraffenreid

  • John's granddaughters
    John's granddaughters (fifth generation) on the 1/2-scale Keck Gonnerman in the early 1970s before it was finished.
  • John's 1/2-scale Keck-Gonnerman
    Mark DeGraffenreid (fifth generation) behind the wheel on John's 1/2-scale Keck-Gonnerman.

  • Double-cylinder Keck-Gonnerman
  • John DeGraffenreid
  • John's granddaughters
  • John's 1/2-scale Keck-Gonnerman

Well, it has been almost 26 years since this article was first started, but it's been 36 years in the making. The fifth generation turned out two girls and a boy (and then 10 years later two more fifth generation girls came along), and now we have a sixth generation of engineers.

My father, third-generation engineer John DeGraffenreid, wrote the first article, 'Third Generation of Steam,' in 1978. He continued the steam show we had on our farm, the Ozark Hills Steam Engine Show, until 1978. He still has both Keck Gonnerman engines, and since then has built a sawmill and water wagon to use with the 1/2-scale engine.

He and my mother, Betty, continued to travel to several shows every year until the early 1990s. Mom passed away in 2000, and since then dad has been spending time tinkering and building 1/2-scale sawmills, water wagons, a small stationary boiler and a Turner sawmill.

John DeGraffenreid (third generation) tutors his great-grandson Jacob Allen (sixth generation) in the finer points of steam at the Boonville, Mo., show in 1996.


Every year we make our annual road trip to the big engine show hosted by the Missouri River Valley Steam Engine Assn. at Boonville, Mo., the weekend after Labor Day. As time goes by, we seem to take more stuff with us each year. We now take the scale engine, sawmill and water wagon, plus our ATV and a camper.

David DeGraffenreid (fourth generation) waits for pressure to build as he tends to 'Ole Betsy' at a recent show. This is the 20 HP double-cylinder Keck-Gonnerman John bought in 1967.

The whole family gets involved when it comes to steam, and thank goodness we have a large family and Boonville is less than two hours from our home. My son, Mark (fifth generation), who used to be Grandpa's little engineer, is now grown and lives nearby. He still finds time to help, and he's passing the torch to my daughter Lori's son, my grandson, Jacob (sixth generation).

We have family and friends who started with our show back in 1967 who still come to help out and have fun, and we have four generations of our family at every show.

While writing this, I was thinking back 36 years and about all the family, friends and neighbors who were with us at the beginning, and how many friends we have made along the years because of steam. There have been a lot of good times and good fellowship, and in all the years there was only one mishap: It happened to me, but I survived.

If you want to meet good people, just go to a steam engine show. To this day, trains, traction engines and stationary steam engines make a chill run up my spine. Long live steam!

Contact steam enthusiast David DeGraffenreid and family at: 282 Bear Creek Road, Brumley, MO 65017.


Farm Collector April 16Farm Collector is a monthly magazine focusing on antique tractors and all kinds of antique farm equipment. If it's old and from the farm, we're interested in it!

Save Even More Money with our SQUARE-DEAL Plan!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our SQUARE-DEAL automatic renewal savings plan. You'll get 12 issues of Farm Collector for only $24.95 (USA only).

Or, Bill Me Later and send me one year of Farm Collector for just $29.95.

Facebook Pinterest YouTube


click me