The First Reunion?

Before Steam Engine Joe Rynda or LeRoy Blaker, Threshermen Shows were Held on an Ohio Farm

| September/October 2003

The 1939 Field Day. Mehl Young's father, Francis Young, acquired this photo in Florida from Roy Tribby, who thought it showed an early reunion at Kinzers, Pa. On seeing the picture Francis told Roy; 'No, it couldn't be. My mother was never out of the state of Ohio in her life, and she is in that picture.' The dark haired woman to the right, at the end and just under the feeder of the steel separator looking at the camera, is Mehl's grandmother.

In the December/January 1999-2000 issue of Engineers & Engines, Menno L. Kliewer discussed the great heritage of enginemen and the beginnings of the steam and threshing hobby, mentioning several men who were instrumental in organizing the original 'reunions' or shows. This included men such as LeRoy Blaker (father of the National Threshers Association), Henry Ford (who is said to have encouraged LeRoy Blaker) and Chaddy Atteberry.

It is not my intention to discredit the author, the article or any of the persons mentioned therein. I know several of them personally and have a high regard for their abilities and for the effort they have put into making the hobby what it is today.

Instead, I would like to provide additional information about an event the author of the E&E article undoubtedly would not have had access to, seeing as how it happened quite a few years ago in a very 'out of the way' place in rural Ohio.


My father, the late Francis Young of East Sparta, Ohio, saved two newspaper articles out of The Canton (Ohio) Repository, the first from June 26, 1939, and the second from June 30, 1940. The articles give detailed accounts of the first and second 'Field Days' held by the Stark County Threshermen's Association at the F.E. Slutz farm near the little crossroads community of Battlesburg in Stark County, Ohio.

Over 250 people attended these first two events, many of them, as the 1940 article noted, 'Old timers, who gathered to see implements used by their forefathers and to revive memories of their own apprenticeships on the threshing circuits, when they operated steam tractors and the first wooden frame separators, most of them made in Stark County.' (A reference to the Russell Co. of Massillon, Ohio.) I believe this direct quote from the 1940 article pretty well identifies the source of the enthusiasm for the early reunions.