DALLES M. FIDLER, 85, passed away December 29, 1985 at the Good
Samaritan Nursing Home at Villisca, Iowa, where he had been a
patient for only a week.
He was always very much interested in gas and steam engines and
always attended one of the shows where they were at.
He really tried to follow in his father’s footsteps, which
was saw mill work and threshing, as he made the wheat harvest 10
He will be greatly missed by his relatives and friends.
Submitted by his wife, Helen Fidler, R.R. 4, Box 155,
Clarinda, Iowa 51632.
WALTER ARMACOST died on New Year’s Day, two weeks before his
94th birthday. His wife of 75 years, Mira, died just twelve hours
According to an article in the Hanover (PA) Evening Sun, Walter
and Mira ‘met in her parents’ wheat field, where she was
hauling water for the steam thresher Walter was operating. It was
love at first sight….’
Owner of a farm machinery shop for many years, Walter was a
founder and the first president of the Maryland Steam Historical
Society. He built a steam engine from scratch in 1965 and gave
rides on it for many years at steam shows at the Arcadia fire
grounds. At the annual shows, Mira would sell souvenirs, and
everyone called Walter the Boss. They had a place of honor in the
parade at the 25th anniversary celebrations for the Steam
Historical Society in 1980.
Submitted by Mildred M. Brubaker, Secretary of the Maryland
Steam Historical Society, Inc., and W. J. Eshleman, 722 East
Avenue, Lancaster, Pennsylvania 17601. CECIL KELLEY was born May
12, 1902 in Indian Territory north of Pawnee, Oklahoma. Cecil
passed away November 29, 1985.
Cecil in his early life worked with his father farming and
running a large steam threshing outfit.
In 1936 Cecil established the Kelley Implement Company, the John
Deere dealership in Pawnee. It was said, ‘that Cecil started
the business with one implement and a parts book.’ I remember
Cecil saying that when he started this business some people said,
‘Cecil won’t last three weeks.’ In the early times
mowing machines, binders and grain drills kept him in business. At
first he didn’t sell many large items like tractors and
combines. The business thrived as time went on and lasted 35 years.
Cecil retired in 1971 selling his business to Bob Dennis, Kenneth
Kelley’s son-in-law. One of Cecil’s friends was quoted as
saying, ‘As I sat in church for Cecil Kelley’s funeral, I
wondered if the church could have held all of the people who he
gave an honest deal to while he was John Deere dealer.’
Cecil established a record in Pawnee city government by serving
on the city council from 1945 to 1975. As senior council member he
was acting mayor on several occasions.
Cecil started out with a steam throttle in his hand. In 1971 he
began collecting and rebuilding steam engines with his brother
Cecil said, ‘that they liked the old Advance that he and his
dad threshed with.’ But his first engine to collect as a hobby
was the 45 Case. His next engine was a 65 Case. By this time Cecil
and Kenneth really got fired up. They purchased a 110 Case that was
all apart. Now it is one of the better 110 Case engines.
The Kelley Brothers had a nice shop. We always considered Cecil
the mechanic, machinist and steam engineer. Cecil spent many a
happy hour helping on the restoration of a complete line of Case
I guess most all of us have a favorable engine. Cecil’s was
the 65 Case. I’ve heard him say many a time, ‘I love the
old 110 but if I could only have one engine it would be the
We, the members of Oklahoma Steam Threshers, were very saddened
with the death of Cecil, but then at the same time, we have great
joy, because we know that Cecil is in thresherman’s heaven. He
has gone to the big reunion, where the coal, water and steam
cylinder oil are all good.
One of our members said, ‘I bet Cecil has already ordered a
new 65 HP Case engine and 36 inch Case steel separator.’
Another friend was quoted as saying Cecil was about the best
machinist in these parts. Cecil was somewhat like a well fitted cog
wheel, faithful service with little oil and not a squeak. Cecil
won’t occupy much space in the history books, but he will have
a full page eulogy in the hearts and minds of all who knew him.
There is no bigger blessing than a friend who’s there, when
good times aren’t. That was our friend Cecil Kelley.
Submitted by Oklahoma Steam Thresher’s Association,
VERNON REED, born April 17, 1901, died on October 29, 1985, in
Pontiac, Illinois. Vernon had run a steam engine for a long time
and was one of the last to go to tractors. He was a charter member
of the Pontiac Thresherman’s Reunion. He seldom missed a show
and, even though he was sick in bed, had his son take him to the
1985 reunion for a few hours. Submitted by his wife of 60 years,
Mrs. Vernon Reed, Rt. 1, Pontiac, Illinois 61764.
EARNEST OTIS BRESSLER was born near Kearney, Nebraska on January
17, 1910. The family moved to Sheridan Lake, Colorado where he grew
to manhood. After graduating from high school in 1928, the family
moved to Bird City, Kansas. He was involved in farming all of his
life. In the early days of the Tri-State Antique Engine and
Threshers Association at Bird City, he was mostly an interested
bystander. During the late fifties and early sixties, he developed
heart trouble which caused him to temporarily lose his medical for
his pilot’s license. Earnest was a member of the Kansas flying
Farmers for some 35 years, serving a term as President. To fill the
void of his great love of flying he started his increasing interest
in the old steamers and tractors. He did fly again, but in 1974 had
by-pass surgery which ended his flying. Thankfully, by this time he
was very involved with the Association and the restoration of the
tractors and steamers. This ‘hobby’ was to be his work for
the rest of his life. His last year was very special to him, as his
wife, Hope, was the Steam Show Queen. He served a number of years
as officer of the Tri-State Antique Engine and Threshers
Association, being President for 14 years. He also served as an
officer in the Tri-State Antique Auto Club, and was active in the
Kansas Steam Power Safety Association. Earnie left just one month
after the Steam Engine Show last year, on August 26. We will all
greatly miss him.
Submitted by his son, Robert Bressler, Bird City,