R.R. 2, Blue Mound, Illinois 62513
On July 22, 1972 my brother, Kenneth, and his son, Bernard,
fired up their Keck Gonnerman engine and we pulled out into the
field to thresh wheat. Temperature that afternoon was 94° in the
shade – just right for threshing.
We had a large crowd, including my 88 year old Mother came to
see us thresh. Some had never seen an engine and separator in
operation and a good many had run machines in the old days. Then on
August 8, we threshed oats. It was a nicer day, not so hot. Some of
the people came back that were there when we threshed wheat.
My wife, Helen, counted about 125 different people that attended
the threshing. She served iced tea, lemonade and cookies to
Several men and one woman took turns pitching bundles into the
separator. When it was all over everyone said they enjoyed seeing
the outfit at work. They wanted to know if we were going to thresh
again in ’73.
My Grandfather Uhll had steam engines when I was born. The first
steam engine I can remember was a 10 HP Buffalo Pitts. My father
was taking the engine to the Hupp Farm to thresh broom corn and I,
being a little boy, rode in the coal box on the engine.
As I grew up I was always around steam engines. I can recall
when I was still quite young, I would fire 16 HP Advance pulling
Minneapolis corn sheller. Dad shelled some corn in the winter time.
We had all dirt roads in this area. After the roads were muddy and
all cut up, they would freeze up and be so rough you could hardly
stay in a buggy. Taking a steam engine and sheller down those roads
was quite a job. Sometimes a guide chain on the engine would break
or an axle on the tank wagon. When the temperature was real cold,
you had to drain injector hose when not in use or it would freeze
The grain haulers could not fill wagons very full on rough roads
and many drivers would work alongside of their wagons on the way to
elevator to keep warm.
Dad owned two corn shellers, two clover hullers, four separators
and four engines. He had a big shop and did all of his repair work,
such as rebabbitting bearings, putting in flues, stay bolts and
other repairs, so I had a good teacher when it came to threshing
Kenneth and Bernard Brown are owners of the engine and I own
separator. Kenneth is on the engine and my Uncles Fritz and Curt
Uhll brothers are standing beside engine. Courtesy of J. Everett
Brown, R.R. 2, Blue Mound, Illinois 62513.
I remember the first time I fired at engine threshing. Dad had
hired a man to run an engine. He had fired on the railroad. He
would get his fire clinkered and before noon, he would be out of
steam and have to shut down. He claimed the engine was too small
for the separator, so Dad said, ‘I will come in the morning and
build my own fire and fire the engine and we will see if the engine
is too small. ‘ Well, right up at noon he had three inches of
water in glass and could make her pop off any time. The next day I
took over the engine for the rest of the run and made it all right.
I was 15 years old at that time. After that, I ran one of his
engines or separators until 1935.
Guess this will be all for this time, but an old thresherman
never gets all his stories told.