722 East End Ave, Lancaster, Pa. 17602
During the last four days of the third week of August last, the
Rough and Tumble Engineers Historical Association of Kinzers, Pa.,
celebrated their twenty-fifth anniversary by sponsoring their
Annual Old Threshermen’s Reunion.
It was a gala affair with the largest show to date, and a little
history concerning this unique organization might be of interest to
our readers, since it was the first organization of its kind east
of the Alleghenys, and the second one east of the Mississippi
In the early 1920’s or prior to the days of modern highways,
the political slogan of the Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidates
was ‘Get the farmer out of the mud.’
Governor Gifford Pinchot was elected and was successful in his
attempt to build 50,000 miles of rather narrow, inexpensive,
two-lane macadam highways throughout the state. This, while helping
the farmer out of the mud also contributed to the problem, keeping
him on solid footing in the threshing of his crop of grain.
Many times the large steam and gasoline traction engines with
their steel cleated iron drive wheels, would grind through these
early macadam highways. This was especially true on hills where the
power was applied to pull these large threshing rigs over the top,
as they moved from farm to farm. Needless to say, this caused a
confrontation between the threshermen and farmers on one side and
the Commonwealth on the other.
Attempts were made to keep the large steel cleated traction
engine rigs off the highways. As a result threshermen, farmers and
equipment dealers felt the need to protect their interests and
after some discussion with Arthur S. Young of Kinzers, Pa., the
Pennsylvania Threshermen and Farmers Protective Association was
organized. Due to his ample qualifications of 32 years in the
operation of a threshing rig and proprietor of a Farm Equipment
Dealership, he was elected President of the new organization. Jacob
Brubaker was elected treasurer, William Hovetter and Victor
Wintermantel were also members of the Board. They too were
eminently qualified. (Mr. Hovetter is still visiting the steam
shows at a spry 93 years).
Mr. Young and his Board designed a formula to present to the
Pennsylvania Legislature as follows. A certain ratio of the square
inch of cleat surface would be permitted to relation to the gross
weight of the traction engine. The Pennsylvania legislature adopted
these guide-lines and a sort of discontented truce existed between
the Commonwealth and the threshermen and farmers, as no one was
completely satisfied but both sides felt they could live with
However, time marches on, and the dilemma of the heavy cleated
traction engines and the modern highways would soon be solved.
Minneapolis-Moline of Hopkinsville, Minn, in the early 1930’s
announced they would mount their tractors on rubber tires, but
cleats would be optional. Many farmers and threshermen shook their
heads in doubt. But as we know, the cleated tractors were
Several years later the death knell was to sound for the
threshing rig when Allis-Chalmers developed a small, portable
combine on rubber tires, which every farmer could own and power
with his farm tractor. Thus the binder, the traction engine, the
thresher and much of the labor connected therewith was eliminated
in one stroke.
At the end of this decade in 1939 Thresherman Ed Nolt of New
Holland perfected his ‘Automatic’ pickup baler in the
Arthur S. Young shop at Kinzers, Pa. After the building of x25
Automatic hay balers a group of enterprising young men bought the
New Holland gasoline engine factory, as well as Ed Nolt and his
baler, operations were moved to New Holland, and the New Holland
Machine Company completed the demise of the once proud threshing
rig which consisted of a steam traction engine, with a water tank,
or a gasoline traction engine, with a thresher and baler.
The Pennsylvania Threshermen and Farmers Protective
Association had out-lived its usefulness but there were still a few
hundred dollars in the treasury, and Jacob Brubaker, the treasurer,
wished to be relieved of this money. The Board was called and among
the suggestions was that the remaining funds should be used to hold
a great banquet with all the threshermen and farmers in the area to
be invited, but nothing was decided for sure.
About 1946 Arthur S. Young visited Mr. LeRoy Blaker at
Alvordton, Ohio, where he witnessed a steam engine show in
progress. It is said this fired up Art Young, who was a steam
engine collector, with the idea of inviting all the threshermen,
engineers, and saw millers to once again come to Kinzers and fire
up these retired machines, and live again the thrills of the
control of these great machines as they put a hand on a throttle,
and the power surged at their command.
A rather small show was held at Kinzer on the grounds of Arthur
S. Young, but the enthusiasm which was generated among the Old
Threshermen demanded that this become an annual event, so a larger
show was held in 1948. The first Grand Parade was led by Jacob
Brubaker and his Model R. R. Peerless steam traction engine
which is now retired and on display at the Landis Valley Farm
Museum near Lancaster, Pa. Bringing up the rear was a Scheidler
operated by Noah Getz.
By 1949 the Lancaster and Lebanon Chapters of the Pennsylvania
Threshermen and Farmers Protective Association voted to disband; it
was also decided to use the money to hold a picnic and reunion of
the Old Threshermen. This was held May 19, 1949.
In 1950 the Rough and Tumble Engineers Historical Association
was organized by Arthur S. Young, who served as first President, C.
Everett Young first Vice-President, Victor Winter mantel second
Vice-President, Roy H. Herr SecyTreasurer, Ralph W. Eby, Attorney,
as Solicitor; and Rev. Elmer Ritzman as Chaplain. Titus Brubaker,
Wm. Knotts, Clarence Hershey, Willis Hershey, and Arthur Kauffman
were the first Directors.
It has been said one of the differences between men and little
boys is the size of their toys and whenever an old thresherman
smells the odor of sulphur coal, his heart skips a beat and he
knows that he will soon hear the scream of the whistle, as the
powerful steam engine once again slowly, and smoothly moves out to
engage in the task which confronts it. And so for the past quarter
century not only the Old Threshermen enjoy their annual reunion but
people come from all corners of the U.S. and beyond to learn how
America grew from the small, colonial wilderness to become the best
fed and most self-sufficient nation in the World. This has largely
been accomplished by the ingenuity of our people to build machines
which enabled our farmers to feed the population with a surplus.
Let us hope this continues without interference.
The current officers of 1973 are as follows:
C. Daniel Brubaker, President; Alfred J. Kutzner, 1st
Vice-President; John E. Nafziger, 2nd Vice-President; Grace M.
Lichty, Rec. Secretary; Edward O. Margerum, Cor. Secretary; Rev.
Marlin McCleaf, Chaplain; John B. Rengier, Attorney; Charles S.
Rice, Publicity; John C. Railing, Historian; Willis H. Hershey,
There is also an additional Board of 30 directors.
The Quarter Century Anniversary Program was as follows: 10 a.m.
Morning Devotions were opened by the announcer, Wilmer J. Eshleman.
The flag was raised to the strains of the Star Spangled played on
the Calliope. The Invocation was given with some choice remarks by
the Chaplain Rev. Marlin McCleaf. Welcoming remarks by President,
Dan Brubaker. 10:15 a.m., all engine activity with Calliope music.
10:30 a.m., sawing of cedar shingles with a Chase shingle mill,
powered by either steam or gasoline engine. 10:45 a.m., sawing of
lumber on an old Bartley sawmill powered by steam traction engine.
11:15 a.m., stone crusher powered by either steam or gasoline
engine. 11:30 a.m., Calliope musical selections. 11:45 a.m., steam
engines on Teeter Totter as well as the Baker Fan. Noon, the dinner
At this time all official activities close down for one hour.
The food is abundant in true Pennsylvania Dutch style and taste,
with about five kitchens and stands of food and for a bit they
overflow with people.
It is at this time that people visit with one another and renew
old acquaintances. Many people enter the museum buildings where the
giant stationary engines are slowly idling away.
A 100 H. P. three ball Klein gasoline engine with 10 foot
flywheels is on display. There are also many other gasoline giants,
some near a century old, with strange methods of timing,
carburetion and valve systems, but all running in the perfect
rhythm of a gasoline flywheel engine. The man who deserves a large
credit for these engines is A. D. Mast, a longtime member and
gasoline engine fancier and collector.
Then too, one can’t miss the four large stationary steam
engines, with the Corliss valve systems. One of these smooth
running giants was made by Allis-Chalmers. The flywheels on these
large steam engines range up to 10 feet in diameter, all operating
majestically under the loving care of Ellis Platt and Leroy
Ebersol. One furnishes the power for our own system of
As we pass the apple butter stand, and the broom maker’s
machine, then move on to the hobby engine building, it is time to
hear the resumption of the program for the afternoon.
The announcer states over the mi-microphone that it is now 1:00
p.m. and the Calliope will begin the program with some appropriate
selections. 1:15 p.m., the pageant of the threshing of grain:,
threshing by flail, ground hog thresher powered by a horse walking
a tread power, cleaning the grain with a windmill, Ellis Keystone
hand fed thresher, powered by four large Belgian horses and a horse
power, Large Frick or Peerless thresher, belted to a stationary
baler, and powered by a large steam traction engine, or perhaps a
gasoline traction engine, baling straw with horse baler.2:30 p.m.
Calliope selections, 2:45 p.m. shingle mill returns to sawing cedar
shingles; 3:00 p.m. sawmill resumes sawing of lumber; 3:30 p.m.
stone crusher resumes operation; 5:00 p.m. grand parade. This is
the time of the day that all the guests have been waiting for. The
Grand Marshal has been quietly issuing orders, in the formation.
The parade is led by Elmer Lapp and his authentic Conestoga Wagon
Team which consists of six matched Belgians driven by a single
line, and a Conestoga Wagon made 1828. Following is William Handley
with a yoke of oxen in a log cart, hauling logs to the sawmill.
3-horse team hitched abreast owned by Jacob Mays, 2-horse team
hitched to McCormick reaper, owned by Wm. Johnson, 6-pony team,
driven by single line, owned by Allen Mays, 3-mule team, unicorn
hitch, driven by single line, owned by Paul Waltermyer. And now the
original Old Threshermen have returned to the days of their youth,
as they shovel coal into the steam engine firebox and the black
smoke flies from the smokestack, and an aged hand opens the
throttle, and the large steam engines, under the control of the
operator move smoothly to take their places in the parade. The
Avery 18 h.p. steamer once used by Arthur S. Young heads the steam
engine division and is owned by R&T. Peerless 12 h.p., 1903,
Titus Brubaker; Peerless 50 h.p., 1928, Clarence Wyle; Peerless 50
h.p., George Derr; Case 50 h.p. 1916, J. M. Stiffler; Frick 9- x 10
65 h.p., 1923, Martin M. Weaver; Frick 8- x 10 50 h.p., 1922,
Martin M. Weaver; Frick 6- x 9, 1916, Leroy Schannager; Peerless
TT, 1910, Fred Lawton Family; Case 40 h.p., Samuel Kriebl; Peerless
50 h.p., 1928, Mervin Grubb; this is the last peerless traction
ever made. Frick 9- x 10 65 h.p., 1916, Emanuel Nafe; this engine
weighs 18- tons. Frick 7- x 9, 1899, Ross Miller; Farquhar 12 h.p.,
very old, Robert Lefever; Frick 9 z 10 60 h.p., Wm. C. Lucabaugh;
Peerless 50 h.p., 1923, A. F. Harker; Case 12 h.p., 1894, James
Zeager; Scheidler 10 h.p., 1886, Noah Getz. Driven by Noah Getz in
the rear of the steam engine division, the same engine and driver
who concluded the parade 25 years ago. Mr. Getz also owns the
Calliope. An experienced thresherman stands on the rear platform at
the controls of an ancient gasoline traction engine. His sons pull
the large flywheels and the giant piston explodes, and slowly the
great flywheels gain momentum, as the engine purrs happily. The
trained hand of Lloyd Grubb disengages a wooden clutch, and by
lever control engages open gears. His hand now on the clutch lever,
this engine of yesterday, a 20 h.p. IHC. made in 1912 moves into
place to lead the gasoline engine contingent. Happy Farmer 8-16,
1909 Amos Stauffer; Avery 5-10, 1914 Amos Stauffer; Waterloo Boy
12-25, 1917 Amos Stauffer; Frick 12-28, 1924 Wilmer J. Eshleman;
Eagle 40 h.p., Leroy Ebersol; Huber 15-30, 1923 Lewis Frantz; Huber
38-55 HK 1938, Walter Harris; Oil Pull Rumley 30-60, C. E.
Stambaugh; Oil Pull Rumley 16-30, Wm. C. Lucabaugh; Oil Pull Rumley
25-40, Lt. Paul Hahn; Case 22-40, Titus Brubaker, Jr.; Hart Parr
28-50, 1928, Otis Astle; Hart Parr 18-36, 1930, Otis Astle; Oil
Pull Rumley, Alvin Ebersol; Oil Pull Rumley, Abe Herr; Baker 25-50,
1920, Robert Lefever; Hart Parr 12-24, A. D. Mast.
In addition to the above mentioned antiques there was about 35
more modern tractors and garden tractors, but space does not permit
the mention of them all.
By the time President Dan Bru-Brubaker passed the reviewing
stand with his Model C Case, the Grand Parade was brought to a
close. When all engines had returned to their places of origin it
was time for the Supper Whistle at 5 p.m. At 6 p.m. an informal
program as announced by the microphone each evening.
On Saturday as an annual event a large quilt, which is made on
the grounds by local ladies and guests, is auctioned off to the
highest bidder. It is a beautiful piece of workmanship.
As the last day of the Reunion draws to a close the voice of the
announcer proclaims the end of the 25th Annual Old Threshermens
Reunion. Everyone hopes he will be able to return in 1974.