Steam Memories


| July/August 1982



Rocky Comfort, Missouri 64861

I started in 1908 at the age of 11 years on my way down the steam trail by firing a 16 HP N & S on my father's sawmill. From that time on, my life was associated with sawing, threshing, filling silos, and the old corn shredder (in which I lost a finger).

Everything did not always run smoothly with those old machines, so I will mention some of the hazards and problems that do occur in the profession.

We had a 32 x 54 Wood Case separator that was in need of repair in several places. One of these areas was the deck over the straw rack. While I was not seriously injured, I received many little bruises and punctured skin; and, this with the chaff, I was sore and itching for several days, for I had broken through the deck while threshing.

Before we got around to making any repairs, a tornado passed through the area to the east of us (a common thing in Kansas), and hit another Case rig. It tore the separator loose from the engine, rolled it over and damaged the weigher, feeder and blower beyond repair. This was an all-steel separator and, as you might expect, the frame was badly twisted and distorted. But, my father bargained for it and we brought it home. With jacks, bars and heavy chains, we finally got the old hull into its original shape. We then transferred the feeder, weigher and blower from the old one and everything was okay. We used this machine for many years. (I am reminded of the saying: 'Poor people have poor ways.')

The year 1916 was a dry one in eastern Kansas! We had an early harvest and threshing season. We threshed 45 days without interruption and finished about the middle of August. I then left with another thresherman for Canada. We ended up at a town by the name of Lougheed in Alberta. As I remember, it was 60 miles, more or less, east of Camrose. This was all new country then the older settlers had been there about six years.