By Staff

CHESTER J. STERRETT,. died February 18, 1987 following heart
surgery. Born December 5, 1914, he was a farmer and former school
bus driver of Battle Ground, Indiana.

By the mid-1960’s Mr. Sterrett was well into the hobby of
collecting and restoring antique agricultural machinery. Chester
was a generous man who enjoyed sharing his hobby with others. For
14 years he exhibited his steam traction engines at the Indiana
State Fair, first using a 1920 Case 40 HP, Serial No. 34945. Later
he used a 1927 Baker 21-75 HP, Serial No. 17786.

Chester was one of the 1981 organizers of the Battle Ground,
Indiana Steam and Gas Engine Show, held annually ever since. He
also was a participant at the Lafayette Home Hospital Fair, as well
as at the Indiana communities of Winamac and Portland, and at
Greenville, Ohio to name a few.

Each summer the Sterretts would hold their own threshing bee on
their beautiful farm, using a steam traction engine and a grain
separator. On display and operating were numerous internal
combustion tractors.

In a larger sense, Chester planted more than wheat seed to be
threshed later each July. He planted seeds of friendship by his
warm, dynamic, and magnetic peronality. To him, each friend was
someone special. He taught us the meaning of the word


On February 21, the long funeral cortege passed the Sterrett
homestead, where before the casket was lowered, two long blasts
were sounded, recorded from the Baker steam whistle, signifying
that Chester’s work here on earth was done.

We are thankful that Chester Sterrett left us a family by which
to remember him. Perhaps in the seasons to come, as that old Baker
steam engine labors upon a heavy load in the separator, Chester
will be watching from somewhere beyond the sunset.

After outliving ‘most all of the early entrepreneurs of the
tractor industry, ROY C. TOWNSEND SR. passed away February 26, 1987
at LaCrosse, Wisconsin. He was a hands-on inventor, designer,
developer and builder of mechanical devices, an accomplished
musician and a fine and sensitive gentleman.

Roy was born October 9, 1884 at Magnolia, Rock County, Wisconsin
to Arba and Belle (Letz) Townsend. He was married to Edna Yunker
June 26, 1912. She preceeded him in death in 1984.

Roy built a neat 1′ scale model of a Case steamer while in
his teens. In his middle twenties he was designer and engineer for
Fairbanks-Morse and designed their big 30-60. When Fairbanks Morse
went out of the tractor business Roy, his brother George Elmer and
their father Arba F. Townsend formed a company to build the
Townsend Oil Tractor (1914). At first Fairbanks Morse distributed
them under the name ‘Fair-more’. Others which were exported
to Canada were called ‘Bower City’. These were the 12-25
size. After a couple of years the 12-25 became the 15-30 and four
more were produceda 10-20, 20-40-25-50 and 30-60. Later a few units
of a more conventional ‘2 Plow 20 HP’ were built. Until the
recession after World War 1 the company could not meet the demand
for their tractors but that prosperity turned to heavy losses and
production ceased. Later in the 30’s the LaCrosse Boiler
Company built a few 15-30, 20-40 and 30-60’s, but by that time
the design was outdated and the Townsend Oil Tractor was history.
The Town-sends moved to LaCrosse in 1931 and Roy became Vice
President and Chief Engineer of the LaCrosse Trailer Corp. and
helped design and build a 200 ton trailer which was used to haul
huge pipes for the Hoover Dam project. He held more than twenty
five patents for carburetors, engine designs and much more. In
later years he was especially proud of an idea for reforming the
side electrode of spark plugs to get a hot spark with lower
voltage. They really put new life in old engines with weak

After retirement Roy had more time to enjoy his musical hobby.
He played French Horn with the LaCrosse Municipal Band and the
LaCrosse Symphony Oechestra.

Almost to the end he loved to tell of the adventures of building
and demonstrating the Townsend Oil Tractor.

FLORIAN C. KARL, of Jordan, MN passed away April 18, 1987 at the
age of 90 years. Florian liked to fix engines. He got a 3 HP engine
in 1915 when he was 18 years old, and started to saw lumber. After
1917 he ran a 25 HP Reeves steam engine in a threshing rig for many
seasons. The threshing machine was a Minneapolis. He put in many
hours running the steam engine for threshing or sawing lumber. He
ran a 16 HP Advance machine for nineteen years at the Scott-Carver
Threshers Show. He was a lifetime member of the Scott-Carver
Threshers Assn.

He had a Texaco gasoline station in Jordan for 35 years.

EDWARD F. HUPPERT of Beldenville, Wisconsin, died Sunday, March
8, 1987 at St. John’s Hospital, Red Wing. He was 79.

Mr. Huppert was born August 28, 1908 in Trimbelle Township, the
son of John and Margaret Huppert. He married Eileen Heins. He
farmed and owned Huppert’s Tavern in Beldenville for 35

He was one of the originators of the Beldenville Steam Threshing
Days. He was a member of the Ellsworth Rod and Gun Club and St.
Francis Catholic Church in Ellsworth.

Farm Collector Magazine
Farm Collector Magazine
Dedicated to the Preservation of Vintage Farm Equipment