Report of the third reunion of Zehr’s Central States Steam
Engine and Thresher Historical Association held near Pontiac,
The third annual reunion of Zehr’s Central States Steam
Engine and Thresher Historical Association was held September 12
through 16th at 4 H Park, near Pontiac, Illinois.
Wednesday, the first day, many visitors came from a distance and
also local communities. The weather was fine except in the evening
We had a heavy rain. The evening of the 11th the threshers and the
Pontiac J C’s staked a very large parade headed by the Pontiac
Clown Band followed by a Stanley Steamer with Alvin Otto as
engineer, and H. J. Lucksinger (Father Time), L. K. Wood, and Dan
S. Zehr, as dignitaries. Several steam engines including an Under
mounted Avery, and many model steam engines, the Chebanse Volunteer
Fire Department, and the Pontiac High School Band of 75 pieces with
Professor Jack North as director, followed by the eleven
contestants for the title of Queen of the Threshers, Miss Steam
Engine, was in the parade. Miss Steam Engine was chosen and crowned
on Wednesday evening, during the heavy rain. She was Miss Pat King
Thursday morning the sun came out bright and warm. At 12:30 our
good friend Arthur C. Page of radio station WLS, Chicago, was
present to broad cast the dinner bell hour, with our faithful
friend Dr. John W. Holland, the loved radio pastor. Thursday was
the largest attendance day to date, having an estimated 13,500
persons present. In the evening Professor North and his famous band
and the Chief City quartette, had charge of the program.
Friday was another very fine day with the crowd estimated at
7,000. More than 45 large steam engines and many various models
were there, all taking part in all of the activities, threshing,
shelling, sawing and engine driving. Our good friend Lucksinger was
on hand with his Muly saw mill doing its stuff, in a very
creditable manner. His associate and superintendent of saw mills,
was our very fine friend, A. S. McDonald of Trivoli, Illinois, who
had a good time and did a swell job at his work. He had just
celebrated his 89th birthday, the previous month. John Vielle of
Pontiac, had his all steel modern portable mill there operating
every day. His mill was powered by the 18 Under mounted Avery owned
by yours truly. Jack as we call him, had to saw the big logs down
so the two boys on the Muly could handle them. This Muly saw and
the operator, Mr. Lucksinger, attracted much attention as many of
the older saw mill men had never seen one operate before. Mr.
Blaker was kind enough to loan us his Prony Brake, and also his
operator, Paul Curtis to help our show along. This was all very
much appreciated by the officers and visitors.
A parade of the models was scheduled as least three times each
day, which seemed to attract the attention of many women as well as
men. The men who did the deck work were really busy, as were those
in the secretary’s office. The men at the gates were also very
busy as the jam of cars over a mile ling each day kept ticket men
engaged. Many of the J. C.’s helped with this.
Friday evening we were entertained by Professor Eiffel Plasterer
and his son who put on a very interesting show with soap bubbles.
This was followed by a colored film lecture by Professor Albrecht
of the far North land.
Yesterday and today in the life of a Rough and Tumble
Thresherman. Outfit of John S. Weidman, Stevens, Pa., threshing
stacks yesterday and through a bridge today. This happened on the
boundary of Cay and Cocalico townships in Pa. Mr. Weidman was
obliged to get the engine out himself and was unable to collect a
cent for damages and loss of time.
Saturday was a school day for the children and there were plenty
there and all seemed to enjoy themselves. It did seem a bit
discouraging during the beginning as our secretary, Chas. B. Ben
net, suffered a heart attack which caused us to employ a temporary
secretary in the person of Miss Jean Roberts, only daughter of our
loyal director and Mrs. Roberts. Some of you will remember seeing
Jean on her father’s Frick engine a few issues ago of the
ALBUM. Jean got right in and pitched during the emergency.
On Saturday evening the members and their friends had charge of
the entertainment with Mr. W. D. Spense of Fairbury as M.C. He did
a commendable job. I am sure he must have put much time on it as he
had many old time bands there with their fiddles and there was a
lot of good square dancing. A group of young man from Saunemin,
Ill., were really good and their attitude to ward the organization
was above reproach. The skit, Buying a Threshing
Rig’ got along very well until a very good looking blond
sales lady tried to sell the outfit, a Caserig, to our friend Guy
Herron of Churubusco, Ind., who was also a Case agent, so it wound
up by having at least three of the members on the floor trying to
get the blond’s address and telephone number.
On Sunday morning all was quiet among the engines and
exhibitors. At 10:30 a religious service was held in the large tent
near by. Dr. and Mrs. Fitz led the singing and accompaniment This
was the first time it had been our privilege to hear the Reverend
Elmer Ritzman preach. It was a marvelous sermon and there were many
compliments, even if one of the horses on the tread power got loose
and started to come to hear Elmer preach. It was very fine Elmer,
do it again for us next year.
No definite record was kept of all of the states which were
represented but there were more than last year. The daily papers
estimated that over 50,000 people had been here during the four and
one half days. We are indeed grateful that no accidents were
reported. Mr. Hinson had a slight heart attack out was able to go
home with his model on Monday. Some of the new model members seemed
to enjoy this fellowship and many have resolved to go home and make
a model too. Our good friend L. K. Wood of Mendon, Utah, was
present and had traveled over 1,600 miles to attend. His presence
always gives a lift and courage. Thanks brother Woods.
Catherine Ritzman was with her boy friend and I am sure they
enjoyed themselves and met a lot of fine friends.
A lot of credit is due Mr. Vernon Reed, W. Collins, L Kinsinger,
and many others who worked so faithfully during the long hours. It
was indeed a privilege to have Mr. and Mrs. Woods of Des Moines,
Iowa, with us. The Woods’ used to build steam engines. Another
distinguished guest was Mr. Vincent Rumely, a grandson of the late
M. Rumely also a former builder of threshers and steam engines. Mr.
Rumely is Vice President of Crane Co., the large plumbing supply
manufacturer. Come again Vince.
All in all, everything went well and we owe a great debt of
gratitude to a lot of people who helped make this one of the
largest and most successful reunions held so far.
Two views of Mr. J. H. Whitbey’s M. Rumely 20 hp No. 6785
built in 1913. Mr. Whitbey is from Fort Wayne, Ind. This engine is
equipped with a locomotive bell and whistle of a scrapped
locomotive PRR engine No. 5407. Mr. Ted Griner of Fort Wayne,
adapted the whistle to the engine. This engine pulled 75 hp on the
Prony brake at Alvordton. Mr. Whitbey is on the right of the top
picture and Mr. Griner to the left.