History of a 22-inch by 38-inch McCormick-Deering Thresher
Brian Wayne Wells
As published in the May/June 1994 issue of
Belt Pulley Magazine
In January of 1994 the LeSueur Pioneer Power Association was given the gift of a 1944 22″ by 38″ McCormick-Deering thresher owned by the recently deceased Paul Meyer and his wife, Palma (Herald) Meyer, who also recently passed away. The children of Paul and Palma (Herald) Meyer, Ann Atwood (Mrs. Charles), of Mankato, Minnesota and Port Charlotte, Florida, and Jim Meyer of Burnsville, Minnesota, felt that their donation of this thresher to the LeSueur Pioneer Power Association would be particularly appropriate because of Paul Meyer’s long career as the owner and operator of the Paul Meyer International Harvester dealership in the town of LeSueur, Minnesota and because this particular McCormick-Deering 22 X 38 thresher has a long historical connection with the neighborhood around the Pioneer Power site. (This thresher is referred to as a “22 X 38 inch thresher” because of the 22-inch wide cylinder near the front of the thresher and the larger 38-inch wide separating tables located behind the cylinder.)
International Harvester got into the thresher business only in 1909 when they offered the Belle City line of threshers. In 1913 they offered Buffalo-Pitts, Sterling and New Racine threshers. C.H. Wendel, 150 Years of International Harvester, p. 253. Advertising from the year 1923 reflects that International Harvester was offering a 22″ X 38″ and a 28″ X 46″ thresher under the McCormick-Deering name. All of the threshers sold by International Harvester were of wood construction. McCormick Deering Line, (Chicago, 1923) pp.327-333.
All of these wooden threshers were phased out in 1925 in favor of the two models of all-steel threshers which were introduced that year under the name of McCormick-Deering. These two threshers were the 22″ X 38″ model and the 28″ X 46″ model. (Actually, a smaller model, a 20″ by 32″ model, was offered for a short period of time from 1926 thru 1932.) Production of the two models of threshers was to continue until 1956.
Paul Meyer came to have direct and intimate knowledge of these two models of threshers. Prior to 1941 Paul Meyer had worked in sales and parts for the Jack Clifford International Harvester dealership in LeSueur, Minnesota. During this period of time Paul and his brother Clem Meyer, now from Mesa, Arizona, bought a 1939 Farmall MD and a 28″ X 46″ thresher and did some custom threshing in the LeSueur, Minnesota area.
Paul Meyer purchased the dealership from Jack Clifford in 1941. He remained the owner and operator of the International Harvester Dealership in LeSueur, Minnesota until 1974. Paul’s other brother, Clair (Bunny) Meyer, joined the dealership in 1950 to work in sales. During the years up to the mid-1940’s the dealership sold many of the McCormick-Deering threshers. In the mid 1940’s the dealership sold what would be the last new thresher the dealership would ever sell. This 22″ X 38″ thresher was sold to the late Wallace Bauleke of rural LeSueur for a sale price was $400.00.
Wallace Bauleke and his sons Elwood and Sheldon Bauleke used the thresher for threshing their own small grains and also used the thresher in custom threshing around Sharon Township in LeSueur County. They threshed small grains in the Sharon Township neighborhood on the Joe Felrath farm and the farm of Joe’s uncle, Charles Felrath, the Foley farm and also for Wilbur Katzenmeyer, Emil Wiese, George Hale, Harold Straub and for a relative of the Bauleke’s, Mrs. Schupper. All of these farms provided horses and workers during threshing season as the thresher made the rounds of the farms. Charles Felrath, Joe Felrath and Joe’s son, Donny, became part of the threshing crew along with many others during the threshing seasons from the mid-1940’s until about 1963 when the last of the farms on the route changed over to combining of small grains. Mark Katzenmeyer, son of Wilbur, though too young to form part of the crew, does, nonetheless, remember seeing the thresher operating. For the first couple of seasons, Wilbur Katzenmeyer’s 1941 Farmall H was used to power and transport the thresher. This H was equiped with factory rubber tires and had electric lights for easier rransportation of the thresher from farm to farm. In 1947, Wallace Bauleke purchased a McCorick-Deering WD-6 from the Paul Meyer dealership. From that time on the WD-6 was used with the thresher.
As the farming operations in the neighborhood converted to combining, the thresher would stored away for good on the Wallace Bauleke farm. The thresher was bought by two young members of the LeSueur Pioneer Power Association, Bill Theleman and Brian Schultz in 1981. Bill and Brian repainted the thresher and the thresher was stored at the Pioneer Power site and operated during the show in August of each year. Paul Meyer re-purchased the thresher from Bill and Brian in 1983. Paul often told the story of repurchasing the thresher for $800.00, twice the price that he had sold the machine for in the 1940’s.
Thanks to the gift of the Paul Meyer family, this thresher will continue to be available at the LeSueur Pioneer Power site and to be operated during August threshing show each year. The thresher will continue to stand as a fitting tribute not only to Paul Meyer, but to all operators of local International Harvester dealerships and to Wallace Bauleke and all the threshing crews who labored with this thresher and other threshers harvest the nation’s small grains.