The Bolze Family Steam Engine History

| March/April 1999

535 Evergreen Road New Bloomfield, Pennsylvania 17068

This steam engine is an Emerson-Brantingham Peerless TT model, serial #17544, 50 HP, the 200th built in 1916. It was bought in 1918 by the Bolze Brothers for their threshing and sawmill operation setup at R.D. Landisburg, Perry County, Pennsylvania, from Charles Garman. Mr. Garman lived at Elliotsburg, Perry County, a distance of two or three miles from the Bolze Brothers sawmill. The Bolze Brothers were: Lenus Bolze, 1876-1971, David Bolze, 1879-1955, and M. L. Bolze, 1884-1962.

In the late summer or early fall 1953, this engine burned in a sawmill fire at night. The engine had not been used for two weeks previous to the fire. 1954 found #17544 at the Arthur S. Young Boiler Shop in Kinzers, Pennsylvania, for a complete restoration, as the fire ruined the babitting and other parts of the steamer. Mr. Young had hoped to have the engine done in time to display it at the Pennsylvania Farm Show at Harrisburg in January 1955. But it was not to be.

In February 1955 the Peerless was returned to the Bolze Brothers Lumber Mill at R. D. Landisburg.

Two weeks later, Lenus and M. L. Bolze retired the Peerless, as David Bolze had passed away from a massive heart attack while working at the mill. The Peerless was basically in storage except for annual threshing with it for show locally, by Frank Bolze, the oldest son of M. L. Bolze.

Frank Bolze then bought the engine from his Uncle Lenus and father in 1960. The story goes that Lenus was worried that someone would get hurt while Frank was running it. Frank ran this engine at the Williams Grove show for years. During the Perry County Sesquicentennial Celebration in 1970, he formed the Bolze Steam Engine Club and toured the county with it and an old threshing machine. This was quite a sight at all the parades. They must have had 100 members in that threshing crew.