Farm Collector

Third Generation of Steam

It all began in the year of 1912 when my grandfather [first
generation] purchased a new 18 HP single-cylinder, side-mounted
Buffalo Pitts. He purchased a grain separator at the same time and
began his threshing career, in and around Bagnell, Missouri. My
father [second generation] said when they unloaded it off the
flatcar there was a factory man with it to start them out on

This, not being a big wheat country, they would thresh about
three months and build roads and run a sawmill the rest of the
time. This was about par for the course for the next 15 years, at
such time they purchased a 27-44 Twin City tractor which they
threshed with until about 1937. My grandfather owned several
engines during this time, but sold all but ‘Old Buffalo’
which he owned at his passing in 1939.

In the early 30s a friend of the family borrowed the engine and
the sawmill to saw a tract of timber and in the process had a fatal
heart attack while turning a log on the mill. The old outfit set
for some years and one day my father said ‘Let’s go get Old
Buffalo,’ to my brother and I [third generation].

My brother and I cared for the engine while dad did the sawing.
I don’t know why, but either we had plenty of water and not
much steam or was it the other way around? Well, I don’t know
if any of you ever fired with green sycamore slabs or not but dad
being a very conservative sawyer; there wasn’t much left but
sap. By this time the war clouds were gathering and Uncle Sam said
I Want You, and I was almost glad to go to get out of firing the

My brother and I were gone from 1940 to 1947 and in the meantime
dad had gotten an old car engine for the power unit for the mill.
One day a junk dealer came along and offered dad $50 for her and
dad said the man will give $50 for her and I don’t guess we
will have any further use for her and I said he will give $100 and
lets keep the whistle, gauge, pop valve and babbitt out of the

In the spring of 1967, I heard of a number of engines at
Columbia, Missouri, owned by H. H. Lawson. My brother and I went up
and looked at them and a short time later I got this friend that
got me to go to Mt. Pleasant to go with me and look at these
engines. We made a trip or two and he bought a 22 HP
single-cylinder Keck Gonnerman and I bought a 20 HP double-cylinder
Keck Gonnerman.

I began to think we needed some grain so we could have something
to thresh so I prepared 10 acres of oats the first part of March. I
looked at the old grain binder we had from years past and it was
rotted down, so I went back to the man from whom I purchased the
engine and got a 10′ power binder and got it ready for

In June we got the oats bound and shocked, so we set a date for
an old time threshing, did a little advertising, ‘come and see
if you like, no charge.’ There was probably six or eight
hundred people and now many people say we didn’t know about it,
so you will have to have it again.

Well, what do you know, ‘Time slips away.’ Ten years
have come and gone since I wrote the first part of this article. As
can happen the fifth generation has come along in fact three of
them; two girls and a boy.

The threshing show has continued all these years and the 11th
one was held July 23 and 24, 1977.

In 1969 I decided that I should build a half-scale model of the
20 HP double Keck-Gonnerman that I purchased in 1967.

It was a rewarding six years of past-time and I met and
corresponded with some of the nicest people in obtaining governor,
injectors, pop valve, etc. Namely, Clyde Comstock, Fred Brubaker
and Paul Campbell.

The first time I showed the engine publicly was at an art and
craft show at Riverview Baptist Church in March of 1975. In July I
went to Paris, Mo., to the Mark Twain Old Threshers Show and I
heartily recommend this show to anyone and especially model

  • Published on Sep 1, 2004
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