This history was presented at the August 13, 1986, dedication of
the Steam Traction Engine Building at Rough and Tumble Museum in
Kinzers, Pa., in honor of Titus and Erma.
Titus Brubaker, one of the last local old-time threshing
operators, was born April 20, 1889, and is 98 years young. He
graduated from Franklin and Marshall Academy in Lancaster, Pa., in
1904 and the next year attended Franklin and Marshall College for
one year. He also took a correspondence course in electrical
wiring. In later years he served on a school board for 12 years. He
had one son, Titus, Jr.
Erma, his wife, was born in August 29, 1893. She graduated from
Millersville College in 1913, then taught school for 5 years. She
then went to Washington, D. C. during World War I and worked for
the Federal Trade Commission in D. C. and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
She married 1923 and lived in Florida and had a daughter. After the
death of her husband she went back to D. C. and worked in Labor
Statistics. After being a widow for 22 years, she married Titusa
good venture and ever since it’s been steam engines.
In 1904 at age 16, Titus got the itch to own a threshing rig of
his ownan ‘R’ Peerless traction engine and Model
‘C’ 30′ x 46” Geiser thresher. At the time of
his business start-up, a Jake Denlinger stated he was only a kid,
as were his schoolmate helpers.
In 1905 he purchased a new Model ‘S’ Peerless and the
boiler went bad in 5 years. The metal had failed around the firebox
plate area of the stay bolts on both ends. Therefore, the
‘S’ Peerless was scrapped in 1910.
In 1908 he purchased his first automobile, a Cadillac with the
one cylinder engine under the front floorboards.
In 1911 Titus purchased a secondhand 18 HP Avery steam traction
engine from Frank McGrann, which he had until 1914. He said it used
too much water and coal.
In 1915 he purchased a secondhand 9 x 10 Frick steam hauling
engine from Bill Hobetter who was the Newville engine agent. He
used this engine until 1927. He also purchased a new Frick 28 x 48
thresher in 1926.
In 1927 he purchased a large Case cross engine model tractor
which uses kerosene for fuel. His grandson, Dave Brubaker, has this
engine here at Rough and Tumble Museum.
In 1921 Titus purchased a used Model ‘RR’ Peerless
traction engine of 12-13 HP. Titus witnessed the unloading of this
new traction engine from a railcar in Lancaster City at Seners Coal
Yard of the Prince Street Freight Station in 1903 when he was
fifteen. He used this engine mainly for baling hay and straw,
shredding corn fodder, steaming or sterilizing tobacco beds and
sawing firewood. This ‘RR’ Peerless traction engine has
been donated to Rough and Tumble Museum by Titus and Erma and is in
good operating condition after being restored in 1984 by Paul
Stoltzfoos, an R & T member.
In 1933 he purchased a Model ‘U’ late style traction
engine for steaming tobacco beds. He also leased a Farquhar sawmill
with friction drive from his uncle for sawing lumber.
Near the end of his threshing career of 50 years, he started in
the electrical contracting business at which he worked until 1972,
at the time of a stroke and retirement. Since that time he has
been, and is, playing with his toys steam traction engines.
In years since and to date he has purchased or sold the
Sold a 50 horsepower Peerless to George Derr.
Purchased with his son, Titus, Jr., a Port Huron steam traction
engine and sold it to Noah and Aaron Brubaker.
Titus and Mr. Gearhart purchased a Sheidler steam traction
engine from the Young’s sale and then later Titus purchased
Gearhart’s share. He then sold the Sheidler to Amos Stauffer,
an R & T past president, who donated it to Rough and Tumble.
Currently it is operated at R & T by Amos Stauffer’s
In 1980 he purchased the 9 x 10 Frick from Mrs. Bruce Groninger
of which he owns part of and he still operated at the 1986 spring R
& T opening show.
In 1985 Titus purchased the Clarence Wiles 50 HP Peerless
traction engine which he operated recently. Titus was also involved
in the advancing of cash to purchase the Avery traction engine from
the Youngs for R & T. In addition, Titus and Erma have made
other very generous donations to R & T over the years.
On September 4, 1970, Titus Brubaker was declared ‘Thresher
of the Year’ by the board of directors of Midwest Old Settlers
& Threshers Reunion, in recognition of his threshing experience
and his interest in their organization.
To wind up this history of a living, long-time Rough and Tumble
member and contributor, Titus has only two weaknesses: steam
traction engines and strawberry ice cream.