Steam Engine Tales


| July/August 1994



Aultman Taylor engine

Aultman Taylor engine which was shipped to South America. Owned by Fred Kemna of Danville, Illinois.

R.R. 3, Box 381 Danville, Illinois 61832

In 1915 my grandfather, Haskill Creed, of Cairo, Missouri, ventured west to the Larned, Kansas area. He had been hired to engineer a 32 HP Reeves for a Mr. John Alfred. This engine was a simple, with a lap seam boiler. It pulled a wooden 44 inch Reeves separator which was several years older than the engine and quite worn. In 1915 they managed to keep the separator running and they made some money. In 1916 my grandfather purchased the engine and separator from Mr. Alfred for $600. Grandfather continued to thresh Mr. Alfred's run for three years. The engine and separator stayed in Kansas year 'round, and Grandfather came out from Cairo, Missouri, to run the outfit during the harvest. After the 1918 harvest, Grandfather decided that the separator was worn out. He had the separator burned and the engine loaded on a flatcar in Great Bend, Kansas, and shipped to north Missouri for $75.

In north Missouri the big Reeves was primarily used to pull a road grader on the county roads. Occasionally it was used to pull hedge. Dad remembers his father hooking a cable around a hedgetree and the other end to the Reeves. He would move the engine slowly forward to get the slack out of the cable and then gently rock the Reeves by opening and closing the throttle. At first all you would see was the hedgetree shaking and giving a little each time. The next thing that you would see was roots coming out of the ground from all directions.

One day in 1922, Grandfather decided to check the thickness of the boiler. The standard practice in those days was to peck on the boiler with a hammer to check the thickness. Evidently the boiler was not very thick, since the hammer went completely through the boiler in several spots. This was quite a surprise, because it had carried 160 pounds of steam the previous fall. At that time there was no satisfactory way to repair a boiler in that condition, so the Reeves was cut up for scrap.

In 1925, Grandfather bought a 1922 12 HP Case steam engine east of Macon, Missouri, for $350 from a widow. Dad remembers going to get this engine. It looked like it was brand new and was always stored in a shed. This engine was used to fill silos and pull a buzz saw. In 1928 this engine had its first flue go out and it was cut up for scrap.

Dad can remember other engines in the Cairo-Jacksonville area, but he only remembers one person who successfully farmed with a steam engine. This person Bill Darby, from Jacksonville had Advance and Nichols & Shepard steam engines which he used for threshing and plowing.