with the assistance of
Del Gendner of Grand Prairie, Texas
Joe Thome of Racine, Wisconsin
Bob S. McFarland of Sauk City, Wisconsin
Ed Mortensen of Racine, Wisconsin
Gary Oechsner of Fon-du-Lac, Wisconsin
As published in the July/August 1999 issue of Belt Pulley Magazine
This article remains under construction. Periodically, blocks of new text and media (pictures) may appear and/or the current blocks of text will appear modified or corrected with new information.
(NOTE FROM THE EDITOR: Brian Wells relates to us that he was able to write the history of the Belle City Company only with the help of the reading public of the Belt Pulley magazine. Thus, this is the first truly “interactive article” Brian has written. We hope this trend will continue and grow. As you know, Brian has been attempting to write an article on the Wood Brothers Threshing Company of Des Moines, Iowa. He is also doing some research on the Rosenthal Cornhusker Company of Milwaukee, Wisconsin and the Electric Wheel Company of Quincy, Illinois. He would appreciate any material on the corporate history of any of these companies.)
At two stages during its history as a farm machine manufacturer, the Belle City Manufacturing Company of Racine, Wisconsin enjoyed a network of sales outlets. From 1909 until 1926, Belle City licensed the International Harvester Company to sell Belle City and New Racine threshers, which were made by the Belle City Company. This opened up the entire IHC sales network to Belle City. However, in 1926, IHC termiinated the contract with Belle City and started making their own line of McCormick-Deering threshers. The termination of the contract left Belle City without an effective outlet for its threshers. To be sure, Belle City had been selling some threshers to the tractor division of the Ford Motor Company during the 1920s. However, now with the termination of the IHC contract, Belle City sought to double down on their efforts to get into a closer relationship with Ford. This effort proved successful and, thus, Belle entered into a period of there history which historians have labelled the “Golden Age of the Belle City Manufacturing Company.”
All through the 1930s, the Belle City Company enjoyed access to the farm equipment market through the distribution and dealership network of the tractor division of the Ford Motor Company. However, with the introduction of the new Ford/Ferguson 9N in 1939, Ford gravitated toward the Woods Brothers Threshing Company of Des Moines, Iowa. Woods Bros., of course, manufactured the famous “Humming Bird” thresher which was offered in the 21″ x 36″, 26″ x 46″, 28 x 46″ and 30″ by 50″ sizes. (Robert N. Pripps and Andrew Moreland, Threshers [Motorbooks International: Osceola, Wisc. 1992] p. 122.) These threshers covered the entire gambit of the small thresher market, and Ford had no further need of the joint venture with Belle City. Thus, after 1938, Belle City was on its own, and had to start advertising independent of Ford.
At first, Belle City suffered from the lack of the dealership network which it had enjoyed under its contract with IHC during the 1920s and with Ford during the 1930s. Fortunately, however, Belle City had insisted that the slogan “Belle City Built” appear on all its threshers sold by Ford and International Harvester Company. Thus, farmers had become so familiar with seeing that slogan on its threshers that, both during the contract with IHC prior to 1926 and during the joint venture with Ford, farmers began to insist that their threshers be stamped “Belle City Built” if their new thresher had slipped through manufacture without that slogan stenciled on the sides. Consequently, by 1939, when the company had to go it alone as far as advertising, sales, and distribution, Belle City had already succeeded in becoming somewhat of a household name with farmers in the upper midwest.
Note that the advertising literature above indicates that the Belle
City Company was building an entire line of farm machines which the Company was offering to the farming public. Among the advertising possibilities for Belle City was the Wisconsin State Fair held on a 200-acre site in West Allis, Wisconsin. In the years just prior to the Second World War, the Wisconsin State Fair consisted largely of tents. There were very few permanent structures. However, it was a very popular event with Continue reading The Belle City Manufacturing Company (Part II)→
The Sandwich Manufacturing Company of Sandwich Illinois
Brian Wayne Wells
As published in the July/August 1998 issue of
Belt Pulley Magazine
Farm equipment companies that did not sell a “full-line” of farm equipment they were referred to as “short line” companies. Usually these short line companies did not produce farm tractors and most often did not even produce stationary engines. Inevitably, these small companies were swallowed up by larger companies and, in the process, the individual identity of these small companies was lost. Often, however, many of the greatest improvements in farm machinery were made by these short line companies. One of the most inventive and creative of all short line companies was the Sandwich Manufacturing Company of Sandwich, Illinois.
The Sandwich Company began as a concept in the mind of one person–Augustus Adams. Augustus Adams was born in Genoa, New York, on May 10, 1806. Genoa is located in the “Finger Lakes” Region of New York near Syracuse. Today, the town is known as the birthplace of Millard Fillmore (1800-1874), who was later to become the thirteenth President of the United States. Following the death of his father, Samuel Adams, in 1817 (not the famous hero of the American Revolution), Augustus was sent to live with his brother-in-law in Chester, Ohio. There, he alternated between attending school and doing farm work in the area. He was studious by nature and devoted a great deal of his leisure time to studying and reading. In 1829, he returned to the Finger Lakes Region and settled in Pine Valley located in Chemung County near Elmira, New York. In Pine Valley he opened a foundry and machine shop, which he operated until 1837 when he was smitten by the dream of seeking his fortune in the west.
A generation before John Babsone Lane Soule pronounced his famous quote of “Go West, young man” in the Terre Haute Indiana Express in 1851 (later popularized by Horace Greeley), the dream of seeking riches on the Western frontier was firing the imaginations of many young people. (John Bartlett, Familiar Quotations [Boston 1968], p. 768.) So it was with young Augustus Adams. Augustus had married Lydia A. Phelps on October 21, 1833, and started their family. Over the next few years they had four sons: Darius (August 26, 1834); J. Phelps (September 18, 1835); Henry A. (January 21, 1837); and John Q. (July 23, 1839). However, Augustus was extremely reluctantly to take his family to the untamed western frontier, and so he left them in New York while he struck out for the town of Elgin, located in northern Illinois, northwest of Chicago. He intended that the family would follow as soon as he could make decent living arrangements for them on the frontier in Illinois.
Augustus, who from his own experiences in working on a farm, knew that much hard, laborious hand work was involved in raising and harvesting crops. Consequently, he understood that the future of any business would be assured if the business could build labor-saving farm equipment, and over the next several decades, the company that Augustus Adams founded would do just that.
The Rockwood Pulley Company of Indianapolis, Indiana: Manufacturer of Paper Pulleys
As published in the March/April 1997 issue of
Belt Pulley Magazine
They are everywhere at threshing shows, just as they used to be everywhere on farms: on threshing machines, corn shredders, hammer mills, ensilage cutters, and tractors. Seldom are they really noticed, but they make everything work smoothly. They are, as the advertisements used to say, the “pulleys that grip while others slip.” (See the 1938 Rockwood advertisement on page 113 of Threshers, by Robert Pripps and Andrew Moreland [Motorbooks International Publishers: Osceola, Wis. 1992]). They are Rockwood paper pulleys.
They were commonly called “paper pulleys” because of the heavy fibrous material that was wrapped around the metal core of the pulley. This fibrous material was made by a process identical to that of manufacturing paper, except that the raw material being used was straw. Because of their ability to grip, paper pulleys were a technological leap over the wooden and steel pulleys that were first used in flat belt applications like threshing machines.
Although over the years (since the first appearance of paper pulleys on the North American farm scene) other companies would enter the field of manufacturing paper pulleys, it was nonetheless Rockwood Manufacturing Company that developed the first paper pulley. Rockwood so dominated the paper pulley market, that the terms “Rockwood pulley” and “paper pulley” were often used interchangeably.
Like so many companies, the Rockwood Manufacturing Company began as the dream of a single person. William O. Rockwood was born to Rev. Elisha and Susannah Rockwood of Westboro (Westborough), Massachusetts. Elisha was a doctorate of divinity graduate of Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire. Upon graduation, he became the minister for the parish of Westborough, a post he would hold for 27 years. His wife, Susannah Brigham (Parkman) Rockwood, was the daughter of Rev. Ebenezer Parkman, who had been the first minister of the same Westborough parish. Together, they saw to it that their young son, William O. Rockwood, obtained a good education, enrolling him in Leicester and Amherst Academies, and then entering him at Yale University, in New Haven, Connecticut. William O., however, rebelled against the ministry, the path laid out for him by his parents. He had a love of the sea. Accordingly, after two years at Yale, he signed on to a sailing vessel bound for Savannah, Georgia, at which port the ship would be loaded with cotton and would sail for Liverpool, England. Upon his return to Massachusetts, he stayed for a while with his parents. On June 4, 1836, William’s mother died. This was a shock to the young man and set him on a different course in life. Continue reading Rockwood Pulley Company of Indianapolis Indiana→
The History of the Anthony Company of Streator, Illinois
Brian Wayne Wells
As published in the July/August 1995 issue of
Belt Pulley Magazine
Just as necessity is the mother of invention, so too necessity gives birth to a lot of restoration projects. At the 1994 LeSueur Pioneer Power Show, my father Wayne Wells, brother Mark Wells, and I took on the assignment of operating the Paul Meyer/Wallace Bauleke 22″ McCormick-Deering thresher as a field demonstration on the Pioneer Power grounds near rural LeSueur, Minnesota. (The Paul Meyer/Wallace Bauleke thresher was the subject of the story “History of a Thresher” contained in the May/June 1994 Belt Pulley, Vol. 7, No. 3, p. 19.) Only my father had previous experience with setting up, leveling, belting and operating a thresher. Nonetheless, with the help of other members of the Pioneer Power Association, including Doug Hager, Bill Radill, Jimmy Brandt and Dave Preuhs, we got the thresher correctly belted and running. During the Show, the thresher proved to be a smooth-running and efficient thresher.
There was, however, one big problem we faced at the Show: there was a definite shortage of grain wagons for all of the threshers that were running. We could not use the modern-style gravity flow grain boxes because they were too tall to fit under the grain elevators of the old threshers. Furthermore, the use of modern equipment around old threshers detracted from pictures that we all wanted to take during the Show. The only answer was to find an old grain-box wagon and restore it for use at the Show during the field demonstrations.
Thus, in the late fall of 1994, Wayne Wells attended the Fahey Auction at Belle Plaine, Minnesota. This auction, which is held several times a year, has become a regular event for old machinery buffs of the area. At the auction, Wayne Wells found and purchased a nondescript, but heavy-duty, all-steel, flare-type wagon box without a running gear.
Closer inspection of the box revealed the name Anthony stamped into the rear panel of the wagon just above the tail gate. Following the auction, Wayne Wells transported the Anthony wagon box to the grounds of the LeSueur County Pioneer Power Association aboard a hay rack. On the grounds the Anthony wagon was stored under a shelter located on the grounds through the winter of 1994-1995. Restoration of the Anthony wagon box began the following spring of 1995.
(An Anthony flare-type wagon box identical to the Wayne Wells wagon box is pictured in the beautiful cover photo of the March/April 1995 issue of Belt Pulley magazine being towed by an Oliver 77 and an Oliver Model 2 Corn Master corn picker.) We knew very little about the Anthony wagon, and since we wanted to restore the wagon box and paint it the proper color, we had to do some research into the Anthony Company.
The Anthony Company was founded in 1917 by William Anthony, Paul Heflin and Mark Anthony, primarily for purposes of building truck bodies and hoists for trucks. Initial capital for the Company was supplied by the founders and by means of a small loan from the Union National Bank of Streator, Illinois. They began production of dump truck bodies at the factory of the L.P. Halladay Company located on Hickory Street in the city limits of Streator, Illinois.
Their product line positioned the Anthony Company to take full advantage of the strong demand for heavy equipment required for the building and repairing of roads and highways in the 1920s. The Company grew rapidly and soon was serving markets in Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico, South America, the British Isles, and Australia. The Anthony Company quickly outgrew its facility on Hickory Street, and in 1920 they moved their operations to another location on the north end of Baker Street. This 12.2-acre complex on Baker Street was conveniently adjacent to the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad.
The new location allowed the Company to grow and to become a leader in the nation in the production of truck bodies. The Anthony Company was fortunate in having an extremely talented and dedicated work force. Ralph Burt, Cecil Worrels, Gene Dapogny and Carl Bole all served as sales managers over the years. Mark Anthony, son of company founder William Anthony, served as head of the export department.
Over the years Joseph Barrett served as general manager, John Lyons served as treasurer of the Company, and Ned Whitson and later Robert Hamilton served as plant managers. Richard Fuller was superintendent of commercial products, James Wallif was superintendent of military products, and Ronald Durham headed the print department. Herbert Dakin and later Lyle Mustered served as head of the Engineering Department. Patrick McClernon was contract administrator, William Borglin was manager of the costs department, Carl Tapley was purchasing agent, Leroy Whyowski was director of quality control, and Larry Torres was production control manager. Later, William Hall served as the head of a ten-person computer department at the company. An article in the June 24, 1968, Streator Times-Press reported that in 1968, 81-year-old Paul Heflin was still reporting to work at the Anthony Company to perform his duties as secretary of the corporation.
Herbert Dakin was another long-term employee of the Anthony Company. Working as the head designer for the engineering department, he designed the famous telescoping-style of hydraulic hoists for dump trucks. Development of the telescoping hoist effected a revolution in the trucking business. (Although Herbert Dakin died in 1975 at the age of 86, his granddaughter, Leslie Poldek, continues to keep memories of the Anthony Company alive as librarian of the Streator Public Library.) In the early 1940s, Frank Novotney, sales manager for the Anthony Company, designed the first hydraulic lift gate. Lift gates were folding platforms which fitted to the rear ends of trucks. These platforms would hydraulically raise and lower from street level to the level of the bed on the truck. This would allow the driver of the truck, unassisted, to load and unload very heavy equipment. The lift gate became one of the Company’s most popular products.
Like other companies during World War II, the Anthony Company was restricted to the manufacture of only those products which were needed for the war effort. The United States Government, however, contracted with the Anthony Company for the production of all kinds of truck bodies for the United States Armed Forces. One of their largest contracts called for them to produce dump truck bodies for the building of the Alaskan Highway project. During this contract, the work force broke all known production records for the manufacture of the largest single fleet of heavy duty dump truck bodies. The Company and its work force was awarded the Army-Navy “E” (Excellence) award for the manufacture of wartime materials.
In 1945, just as the Second World War was ending, amid rejoicing that the “boys would soon be coming home,” there was a feeling of uncertainty about the future. This feeling was based on clear memories of the end of the First World War which had caused a sudden 15% inflationary spike in prices followed by a recession in the spring of 1920. (Grieder, William, Secrets of the Temple: How the Federal Reserve Runs the Country [Simon and Schuster: New York, NY, 1987], pp. 289-290.) Typically, at the conclusion of a war, businesses were forced to find other markets for their goods or to re-tool for the manufacture of new products more fitted to peacetime economy. All too often businesses could not adjust to the new economic conditions, thus throwing their workers into unemployment.
In 1945, this fear was a sour note sounded amidst the celebration! Several small companies, which had been forced by the War Production Board to produce only products for the war effort, now found their situation desperate as they scrambled to find a niche in the civilian peacetime economy. One of those companies was the Anthony Company of Streator, Illinois. Indeed, the atmosphere at the Anthony Company was gloomy as they faced the return to peacetime economy. There was no current large peacetime demand for truck bodies, nor was there any foreseeable circumstances that offered any hope of a large demand for truck bodies in the future.
However, on June 5, 1947, Secretary of State George C. Marshall gave the commencement address at Harvard University. The speech was used as an opportunity to announce a new Truman Administration proposal for United States aid to be sent to Europe to assist post-war recovery. (David McCullough, Truman, [Simon and Schuster: New York, NY 1992], pp. 562-563.) This program, eventually to be called the Marshall Plan, envisioned a mobilization of the whole productive capacity of United States agriculture to fend off starvation in Europe and to help get the European economy moving again.
Recently, LeSueur Pioneer Power member, Loren Lindsay, arranged for the donation of a late-model McCormick-Deering 10-foot binder to the Pioneer Power Association. This binder was purchased new by the late John Depuydt and his wife Mary (Seys) Depuydt in the 1940s, and was employed on the Depuydt farm in rural Mankato, Minnesota, for its entire life. The binder is being donated to the LeSueur Pioneer Power Association in memory of John by Mary and their son, Greg Depuydt.
The binder is complete and does operate, but the binding mechanism has been temporarily disabled to convert the binder into a windrower. This was a popular modification made to old binders when farming operations were changed from threshing to combining.
McComick-Deering binders were the result of a blending of all of the best features of four different binders, e.g., Plano, Champion, Deering and McCormick binders, as the result of the merger of these four companies to form International Harvester Company in 1902. Following the merger, Deering and McCormick binders continued as separate product lines until 1937 when these two lines were discontinued in favor of a single line of McCormick-Deering binders. (C.H. Wendel, 150 Years of International Harvester, [Crestline Publishing: Sarasota, Florida, 1981], p. 163.) Even during the period of time from 1902 until 1937, while Deering and McCormick binders continued to be manufactured as separate lines within the same company, the binders gradually became more and more similar as time passed. By 1923, the two binder lines had adopted enough of the best features of one another that the Deering and McCormick binders were already basically the same binder. (Ibid., p. 160.)
The Depuydt binder will no doubt remind many people of binders owned by their families in the past. one such binder, an 8-foot McCormick binder, was owned by John T. Goff of Mapleton, Minnesota in the 1920s. By the time that the Hanks family moved to the Goff farm south of Mapleton in 1935, the binder had been converted for use behind the Goff 1931 John Deere D. The Hanks family rented the Goff farm from 1935 until 1945. During that period of time they purchased much of the John Goff machinery, including the 1931 John Deere D and the McCormick binder. The grain binder was used every year during threshing season until 1944 when the Hanks family purchased a 1938 John Deere No. 7 combine for harvesting their small grains.
As related earlier, the Hanks family transported the McCormick binder, the No. 7 combine and all their other machinery and moved to the newly purchased 400-acre Bagan farm five miles east of LeRoy, Minnesota, on March 1, 1945. (Belt Pulley, “The Wartime Farmall H,” July/August 1994, Vol. 7, No. 4, p. 13.) By the summer of 1948, Howard and Ethel (Buck) Hanks were starting to develop confidence in their economic position. This was quite different from the extreme uncertainty which they had felt the previous year. (For the story of the year 1947, see Belt Pulley, January/February 1995, Vol. 8, No. 1, p. 31.) They were now into their fourth growing season on their farm.
Many changes had also occurred in the family since the previous year. The family was smaller now. Daughter Lorraine had married Robert Westfall, and together they rented a farm near Stewartville, Minnesota. Son Bruce and his new bride Mary (Keller) had been living on the Tony Machovec farm 1/2 mile to the south of the Hanks farm. During the summer and fall of 1947, he had been working on the Hanks farm every day to earn money to enter seminary school; however, on January 1, 1948, he and Mary had moved to Chicago to attend Moody Bible Institute. Also, daughter Marilyn had married Wayne Wells. Although she lived only two miles away on the Wells farm, and although Wayne Wells did cooperate with the Hanks family during corn planting and haying seasons, she too was not around the Hanks farm on a daily basis anymore. Only eldest son Fred, 18-year-old daughter Hildreth, and 12-year-old John remained on the farm.
In a large family, each child comes to cherish those occasions when they have the undistracted attention of one of their parents. With sudden reduction in the size of the Hanks family, Hildreth and Johnny noticed that they now enjoyed this opportunity on a more frequent basis. Hildreth had just graduated from LeRoy High School in June of 1948. She intended to spend the summer on the farm and then go to Moody Bible Institute in Chicago to further her education. During her senior year in high school she had been active on the school newspaper. Hildreth’s boyfriend recognized that the Hanks family enjoyed photography, and so he gave Hildreth a camera as a graduation present.
During the summer of 1948, Hildreth was haunted by the feeling that after she left the farm in the fall to go to college her life would never be the same. All that summer she used her new camera to take pictures of everyday activities around the farm. She wanted the pictures as remembrances of her farm life while she was away at school. She especially wanted to remember the times that she had spent with her father working in the fields.
It was July and the oats were ripe. Howard was busy preparing the old McCormick binder for the field. Since the Hanks family purchased the big John Deere No. 7 combine in 1944, the McCormick binder had been modified by disconnecting the bundling mechanism so that the cut grain would flow out in a continuous stream. The McCormick binder had thereby been converted into a windrower.
The day before windrowing the oats in July of 1948, Howard Hanks pulled the binder out of the machine shed. He then took the rolled up canvases for the binder down from the wire hooks hanging from the rafters in the machine shed. The canvases had been suspended from these hooks all winter to be safe from the mice. He installed the canvases on the rollers on the bed, and also on the upper and lower force feeder of the binder. He could perform this operation without switching the binder out of its length-wise transport position. Thanks to a square fitting on the drive shaft of the binder, he could use the crank that came with the binder to slowly turn the drive shaft and check the operation of the binder. Next he greased the binder with the grease gun at all of the Zerk locations.
The next morning, with his eldest son Fred already in the fields with the new 1948 Ford 8N cultivating with the Ford rear-mounted two-row cultivator, Howard finished the milking and other chores. Then he backed the 1942 Farmall H out of the alleyway of the corn crib, drove down to the machine shed and hitched the tractor to the 8-foot McCormick grain binder.
Before heading to the field, Howard stopped by the house to get his youngest daughter Hildreth, since she had expressed interest in helping her father today. As she ran out of the house, Hildreth grabbed her new camera. She jumped up onto the seat of the binder for the ride to the field. The H and the binder, riding on its steel transport wheels, then headed down the driveway and out onto the dusty little township road for the short drive to the field of ripened oats. Over the winter the Hanks family’s dog Ginger had had a litter of puppies. Two of these partially grown pups now followed the tractor and binder to the field.
The sweet smell of new mown hay is familiar to many people. Less familiar is the smell of ripened oats. It has a much fainter fragrance than hay. During hay season, the smell of hay becomes so common that it passes unnoticed after a day or so to the workers who are working with the hay. The fainter smell of ripened oats is noticeable for only a few hours after the start of the oat harvest. This smell is at times captured in a straw bale. This fresh smell of summer sunlight and warmth will sometimes be noticeable in the winter as the straw bale is opened up and the straw is spread around a calf pen. It stands out as a very faint reminder of summer in the middle of winter. Calves must smell it, too. Sometimes they will bury their noses in the straw bale, butt their heads on the bale, and then run and jump around as the straw is being shaken out in their pen.
This fragrance has been approximated in a new cologne called “Fahrenheit” by Christian Dior. The advertisement alleges that the fragrance is the smell of sunshine. It smells like ripening oats or like fresh oat straw. Actually, sunshine is a pretty good definition of the fragrance–oat straw really is sunshine in a bale! A little bit of summer preserved in a bale to be enjoyed in the middle of winter. No wonder the calves would spirit around the pen when they smelled fresh straw. This smell was in the air as the H and the binder reached the field.
Once across the road/field access and through the narrow gate and into the field, Howard used the binder crank to lower the bull wheel and raise the binder off of the transport wheels. The transport wheels and their stub axles were removed from the square holes in the axle supports on each side of the binder. The wheels were then stored next to the field gate, and the binder crank was used to lower the binder into the proper operating height. Then Hildreth helped her father turn the binder 90 degrees to its operating position.
Although there was no need for an extra person to ride the binder, Hildreth enjoyed coming along to the field. It was simply a good time for a father and daughter to be together while they accomplished some work on the farm. Hildreth jumped up into the seat on the binder and reached down with her right hand to twist the clutch lever to put the binder in gear. Then Howard started the Farmall H on the first counter-clockwise revolution around the oat field.
Because the binder had been converted to a windrower, Hildreth had only to watch the oats flow by on the upper and lower force-feed elevator and then to watch it fall on the ground in one continuous swath as her father drove the H around the oat field. As she sat there she realized that this was the last summer of her childhood. In the fall she would be headed off to college in Chicago. The occasion was not lost on Hildreth. This was an opportunity to enjoy all of the sights and sounds of the farm and even the smell of ripened oats being harvested. This opportunity might not be repeated again in the near future.
After a few rounds, they stopped, and Hildreth took a few pictures with her new camera. Howard was impressed by the height of the oats, and so Hildreth took some pictures of the binder against the oats to show the height of the crop. She also took pictures of the two puppies that had been frolicking along behind the binder.
Hildreth took these pictures to college with her. However, chances are good that while in college Hildreth did not admire and analyze the pictures as closely as they are scrutinized today by other family members who are interested in the restoration of old farm machinery.
The Depuydt McCormick-Deering 10-foot binder brings back memories of the Hanks 8-foot McCormick binder. Similarity, the current restoration of a 5-foot Deering binder by Donald Wells of Mercer Island, Washington is reviving memories of the 7-foot Deering binder that he used on his parent’s (George and Louise Wells) 160-acre farm near LeRoy, Minnesota, was about two miles west of the Hanks farm. The 5-foot Deering binder currently being restored by Donald Wells was originally purchased by George Lawson of San Juan Island, Washington in about 1917. It was used on the island to harvest wheat. When Donald Wells found the Deering binder on San Juan Island, it was owned by Etta Egeland, grand-daughter of George Lawson. The binder, which had been sitting in the field exactly where it was last used, was in need of extensive restoration. Therefore, this project continues to be on-going.
As both the Depuydt McCormick-Deering binder and the Lawson/Egeland Deering binder are brought back to operating condition, it is hoped that more memories of old binders of the past will be stirred. These restoration projects serve as a memorial to all those people who manufactured and used these farm machines of a by-gone era.
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.
Belt Pulley Magazine Articles by Brian Wayne Wells