Farm Collector


Route 3, Monticello, Indiana 47960

Not seeing any articles in Iron Men from this section of
Indiana, thought I would write a few items about threshing in times

In 1903 I was a boy ten years of age living on a farm near
Brook, Indiana in Newton County. We had a large threshing run
consisting of twenty five or more jobs on the run. Each farm
furnished a bundle wagon to haul oats bundles from the field to the
machine, also a grain wagon to haul oats to the elevator. The
engine was a large Case model 1903 or earlier. Also a large case
thresher. The engine had a tender with a round tank for water and
on top a space for a considerable amount of coal. Have never seen a
picture of just this type of tank in the album. In August 1903 a
picture of the entire outfit was taken after the completion of a
large job, showing all the workers and the machine. I was then a
boy of ten, and at present theres only three of us left that were
shown in the picture.

Our run lasted for about six weeks in the fall, counting time
out for rainy weather. As I was too young at the time to make a
hand I was always on each job and delighted in getting to set in
the engine cab and get to ride on the engine while moving from one
job to another and help around the engine.

There were lots of oats raised in this area at that time as corn
and oats were the only crop, wheat and soy beans being unknown as a
crop at that time. Crops were rotated each year, a field of corn
stocks would be disked down and be planted for an oats crop some
time the later of March.

Having moved to town at the age of thirteen years this about
ended my personal experience with steam engines, but the memory of
early times still lingers and I am still very fond of steam
engines. About the oddest job that I ever saw was a steam engine
engaged in was the running of a dynamo to furnish electric power
for a moving picture show. The light plant in town was not yet
finished and this engine and dynamo was brought in to use for a few
weeks. The dynamo was located in a shed near the theater building
and the drive belt ran thru an open window. In case of rain the
whole operation had to be shut down. I was employed in the theater
at the time. This was about 1910.

In the background, in front of 65 is Wm. E. Berkheimers’ 50
beautifully restored Case engine.

From left: David Shearns, Mary Johnson, Jennie DeLyser and Abram
E. Johnson, engineer, all of Marion, N. Y.

The engine is belted to sawmill. This is one of the most
beautifully restored Case engines in the country.

After moving to Monticello in 1945 I became interested in a saw
mill. Some time before the saw mill operator, Mr. E. Brumbaugh
purchased a Baker engine of a party in Galveston, Indiana. This was
some distance from Monticello and it took about two days to drive
the engine home by road, having to cross a shaky river bridge near
town, but arrived safely.

On arrival in Monticello, there was a tank car of street oil on
track to be heated. It was employed to connect the engine with car
and heat the oil. He received fifty dollars for this job, which was
the amount he had payed for the engine, so the engine paid for
itself on the first job. He then used the engine on his saw mill
for some time.

When I began working at the saw mill this engine had been
discontinued and the mill was being driven by an Aultman-Taylor gas
engine mounted on skids as the engine had been dismounted from its
original huge tractor. This engine ran good and did excellent
service for many years. This engine was about thirty years old when
we were using it on the mill. Some times we would break a valve
head, the valve coming loose from the stem making it necessary to
replace. Had to have the valves made at a machine shop as to new
valves for this model could not be purchased. After operating near
Monticello for some time, the mill was moved to my farm seven miles
north of town. This required quite a bit of work moving the engine
mill frame, carriage Track and other equipment. Also two small
buildings. It took about a month before getting everything ready
for operation and in service again.

After a time my partner became too old to work, and being in
poor health I took over the ownership of the saw mill on my own. I
operated in this manner for some time. One night the mill burned
caused by sparks from a brush fire blowing in the saw dust under
the mill frame. This destroyed the entire mill, destroying a large
inserted tooth saw and a fifty foot drive belt. The bearings in the
engine were melted and the solder in the tubes of the large boiler
type radiator were melted. Did not try to rebuild the mill. This
old Aultman-Taylor was sold to the Frank Miller Museum near
LaCrosse Indiana, who, I was informed sold it to some collector
near Decatur Ill. Thus ended an era of saw milling.

On Sept 2, 1962 was privileged to attend the Old Threshers
Reunion at Pontiac, Illinois and heard Rev. Elmer Ritzman conduct a
church service in A.M. I did not know Rev. Ritzman at the time, but
purchased a copy of Iron-men at this reunion and have been a
subscriber ever since. Two years later I again attended the reunion
at Pontiac, with Harvy Nelson of Remington, Indiana who is an
ardent steam fan and also a subscriber to your magazine. At your
stand at the reunion this year we met Rev. Ritzman and some of the
ladies employed in your booth.

‘Fat Women insist that you take a second helping so they
will not be embarrassed when they take a third.’

  • Published on May 1, 1968
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