THE ASHLAND PRESS – 1897-1902

R. D. 4, Ashland, Ohio 44805.

Several years ago I was lucky enough to rescue from a junk
dealer several bound volumes of a once prominent weekly newspaper
of our community; The Ashland Press. There were eight consecutive
years, all complete, running from July 1897 to July 1905, and all
in very good condition. Every once in a while it is interesting to
get these out and look over the happenings at the turn of the
century. Besides the latest news on the Spanish American War, there
was the Alaskan gold rush, the Wm. Jennings Bryan, Wm. McKinley
debates of 1900 and McKinleys subsequent assassination and Teddy
Roosevelt’s election in 1904. The papers contain the latest
local news of such things as train wrecks, runaway horse and buggy
accidents, barn fires and every now and then, items regarding
traction engines and threshing. I have now and then read stories in
I. M. A. of accidents and incidents regarding threshing taken from
old newspaper accounts and decided to look through those that I
have and see what I could come up with, as it might be of interest
to the readers of this magazine. In scanning over the pages, I have
noted the following:

August 26, 1897: ‘After dark last Saturday
the packing flew out of the cylinder of Henry Greshner’s
threshing engine when it was near a bridge in the middle of the
road east of town. It was with great difficulty that vehicles could
pass. It was also a difficult task to remove the engine.’

August 31, 1898: ‘John Light came home from
his work in the Aultman Taylor shops in Mansfield last Friday night
with a crippled hand. His helper struck a terrific blow at a tool
that he and the ex-marshal were sharpening, and the blow not
striking squarely, a piece of the metal flew off and penetrated
Light’s hand near the base of the thumb. He came home with the
iron in his hand and expects to leave it there anticipating no
serious results.’

May 10, 1899: ‘BIG FIRE AT MASSILLON-The
largest conflagration in the history of Massillon swept Russell
& Co’s mammoth thresher and engine plant Monday night,
destroying property valued at fully $500,000. The fire started in
the large warehouse at eight o’clock and in this structure was
300 finished machines, and all were consumed. A call for assistance
was wired to Canton and a steamer and truck departed immediately,
arriving almost too late to be of assistance. The firemen worked
heroically and succeeded in saving the machine shops. By ten
o’clock the fire was under control.

The saddest feature of the fire was the killing of Albert
Bamberger, a volunteer fireman, by a falling wall, and the probably
fatally injuring Christian L. Baotz, foreman of a department.

The company cannot accurately estimate their loss but the
insurance only partly covers it. The cause is unknown.’

October 25, 1899: ‘At Henry Long’s farm
near Hayesville last Wednesday an exciting accident occurred.
Moffett Bros. were the threshers and while the engineer was in the
barn the belt regulating the governor of the engine came off,
giving the threshing machine an uncontrollable and intense speed.
The effect was to break the cylinder of the machine to pieces, and
the flying pieces shattered the front part of the machine and tore
holes in the roof as big as a man’s head. All of the helpers
instantly dropped in their places and thereby escaped being hurt or
killed. The engineer ran the most risk by running out of the barn
and stopping the engine.’

July 4, 1900: ‘Friday noon when Geo. Emmens
was taking his engine past Wm. Kendig’s barn a mile north of
town, a spark from the smokestack set the strawstack on fire, and
in very short order a large blaze was on hand. The neighbors were
soon aroused by the blowing of the whistle. Soon they were there
working heroically to save Mr. Kendig’s valuable barn. It
happened that the wind, which was strong, was blowing the right
direction, and the building was thereby saved with the additional
assistance those present rendered by pulling the top of the stack
away from the barn and throwing water on the straw.

All of Kendig’s family were away and they feel under a deep
sense of gratitude for their faithful work. Mr. Kendig feels that
they saved him from a very heavy loss.’

September 5, 1900: ‘Tully Mish had a bad
mishap last Thursday in coming from Mansfield with a new Nichols
and Shepard traction engine that he had traded his old one for. As
he was crossing the railroad at the farthest crossing from Ashland,
watching the track and guiding his engine at the same time, the
engine ran off the grade and upset. By means of derrick and ropes
the engine was set up on Friday, but the damage amounted to over
$75. As the company promised to send a man to Ashland with Mish, he
will try to hold the firm for the damage.’

November 28, 1900: ‘A threshing engine at
the barn on Geo. Leiner’s farm three and one-half miles east of
Wooster burst at noon last Friday, resulting in the destruction of
the barn and contents by fire. Leiner was standing by the engine
and strange to say, while the shoe on one foot was blown off, he
was not seriously injured. The boiler was blown entirely into the
barn and no part was left where the engine stood. None of the 12
men present were badly injured.’

March 13, 1901: ‘The Gaar Scott Engine Co.
has written S. B. Freeman that it will do all it can to help B. M.
Shoemaker, of Ruggles, to replace the thresher engine that was lost
by fire recently. That means a big lift that is greatly appreciated
by Mr. Shoemaker.’

July 17, 1902: ‘One of the finest, if not
the finest, threshing outfits in the county was taken out of town
last Saturday by the Crone boys. It was a J. I. Case machine and
consisted of thresher and traction engine, with all the latest
appendages, carriers, stackers, and everything that is new and up
to date. It was sold by Henry Greshner, agent for the J. I. Case
Co., and cost the boys $2,200.’

July 24, 1902: ‘TERRIFIC EXPLOSION
THRESHING ENGINE BLOWS UP AND HURLS JAY JACKSON 142 FEET-The boiler
of Ora Emmens threshing engine blew up Monday afternoon with
marvelous results and miraculous escapes. The engine and boiler
were demolished, and parts were hurled hundreds of feet. Emmens
owns the engine and John Kissel the threshing machine. They were
threshing Monday at Clint Boyd’s, three miles north of Ashland
on the Savannah road, in the yard just east of the barn. Jay
Jackson had charge of the 10 H. P. engine.

The boiler had been leaking and it was brought to Mohn’s
shop in Ashland last Saturday. Mohn put a plug in the boiler and
pronounced it safe. About eight o’clock Monday morning Jackson
noticed that the boiler was leaking slightly. He at once notified
Kissel, then stepped upon the footboard of the engine, signalling a
stop with the whistle, reversed the lever and just had stooped down
to scrape out the fire when the explosion occurred.

The noise was deafening and the effect awful. A huge cloud of
dirt and steam enveloped everything. With a tremendous force the
huge engine and boiler, excepting the one drive wheel was lifted 20
feet from where it stood while broken parts were scattered
everywhere. Jackson was hurled far up and away to the southwest
alighting in the field where clover had been out. The distance was
afterward measured and found to be 142 feet. His escape from death
was not much less wonderful than that of John Kissel, who stood
about 12 feet to the rear and left side of the engine. The steam
and water escaped towards him, knocked him a distance and only
injured his face some. His left eye was scalded so that he could
not open it. The worst injury came to John Wertman, who was feeding
the machine. What is supposed to be the belt struck him upon the
head, cutting a gash about six inches long from the center of the
scalp to the back of the right ear. The skin and flesh was scraped
off two or three inches wide to the bone, causing much loss of
blood and consequent weakness. Pieces of iron just missed him and
made dents in the machine as he leaned over for a sheaf and was
struck. No one else was hurt except George Beymer and several
others about the machine were slightly scratched. The feature that
caused more comment than anything else was how those injured and
uninjured escaped as well as they did. Jackson’s escape was
most remarkable. He attributes his escape to the fact that he was
stooping down. Had he been standing up, the flying pieces would
have struck him.

Shortly after he alighted on the ground he arose and in a dazed
condition wandered around in a circle with his hand over his eyes.
He had four or five cuts on his face in the vicinity of his left
eye, but none appeared to be dangerous. His right arm received a
terrible bruise near the elbow and swelled to nearly twice its size
but further from those injuries, he was unhurt. His escape so
lightly makes it doubtful in some minds that he was thrown so far,
but those who were there say there was no doubt about it as they
found where he struck and measured the distance.

The force of the explosion threw the flywheel shaft and face
wheel constituting in all about 500 lbs. weight a distance of 200
feet. The flywheel was broken in two parts and one half was found
opposite the rear of the machine some 150 feet away. Numerous other
parts were scattered in all directions and a luckless chicken near
was instantly killed. The grain sacks where men were measuring the
grain were rendered wet by the hot water from the boiler.

Dr. A. M. McClelland was called and very hastily responded. He
dressed the wounds of the unfortunate men. He considered Jackson
not dangerously hurt, but thought Wertman’s injuries serious
and feared the effect of hemorrhages and the result of the
shock.

The cause of the explosion cannot be attributed to any fault of
the engineer but to the weakness of the boiler. The leak that had
been discovered started the vent and after the explosion, it was
discovered that quite a seam was rusted out. Surprise was expressed
that the boiler held as long as it did. Jackson states that he had
90 or 100 lbs. of steam on, and the boiler was about half full of
water when the explosion occurred. Emmens and Kissel very much
regretted the accident. The engine was quite old.

Jay Jackson was in town Monday night with his head heavily
bandaged and his arm in a sling, but as lively and gritty as ever.
He reported Wertman getting along all right.

Many people Monday and Monday evening viewed the remains of the
engine.’

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