Growing up in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, the annual Midwest Old Settlers & Threshers Reunion was always one of the biggest highlights of my year.
(S-0023) (P-0195) This USPS 75¢ stamp (below left) and penny postcard (below right) from 1912 feature a grain-harvesting scene – a threshing machine and team of horses stand in front of a large pile of grain.
The reunion was created in 1949 to keep the memory alive of steam-powered threshing machines and the hard-working farmers of Iowa and the entire Midwest.
(M-0082) 1972 Greentree Pottery plate designed by Judy Sutcliffe.
My grandmother – Olive (Hulme) Boller – and the Hume brothers were good friends with Ray Ernst, one of the founding members of the reunion – the guy in the middle of the front row in the picture (below). Read more about the Hulme family here.
Ray owned a huge Avery steam-traction threshing machine – the biggest at the show. When I was about 9 or 10 years old, my grandma convinced Ray that her grandson would be in second-heaven if he could sit with Ray as he guided his thresher in the big Cavalcade of Power. A highlight in my life, I’ll never forget!
(P-0089) (M-0011) (M-0100) Ray Ernst’s Avery Steam Engine was featured on a vintage postcard, the 1965 button and the 1957 souvenir badge.
David & Grandpa George (1981), Lydia, Gavin, George, Abigail, Jack, Grandma Sandy & Grandpa Marty (2018).
(L-0095) Here’s complete set of Old Thresher pins from the 1960’s. When I was a kid wandering the grounds of Old Threshers in the early 1960’s, I had an Oshkosh Railroaders Cap (like the one above) with all my pins displayed. I’ve recreated a similar cap today.
(M-0012) (P-0090) E.M. Shirk, a farmer in Princeton, Iowa (north of Davenport in Scott County) wrote to the Huber Manufactoring Company in Marion, Ohio, responding to an ad he saw in Farm & Fireside Magazine. He wants information on Huber Threshing Machines. From the stamp on the backside, it appears Huber also forwarded Shirk’s request to the Avery Planter Company, a competitor in Galesburg, IL as well.
(P-0249) Below – here’s a New Huber on the grounds of Old Threshers in Mt. Pleasant. Huber Threshers were easily identified by the smoke stack located at the rear of the engine.
(P-0095) (C-0078) During the first few years of the reunion (1949-1960), postcards and special covers would be postmarked on the Reunion grounds and then carried to the Mt. Pleasant post office by steam engine! In later years, covers were just postmarked at the Reunion by the on-site Post Office.
(P-0096) By reading the postcard, Jack, who must have worked for WGIL radio in Galesburg, IL, decided he rather take in the Old Threshers Reunion in Mt. Pleasant rather than attending a Cubs game at Wrigley Field in Chicago!
(C-0079) above (P-0282) below
(BH-136) In 1969, Author Dana Close Jennings put together “The Greatest Steam Show On Earth” – a beautiful 89-page picture book featuring tons of photos from the Reunion.
(P-0102) (P-0099) (P-0100) above (P-0101) below
(M-0137) One of the prized collectibles in Our Iowa Heritage collection is this Case 65 HP Steam Engine made for the Ertl Millennium Farm Classics #14024, 1999. This is a 1/16 scale model made by the ERTL toy company of Dyersville, Iowa. When I was a kid growing up in Mt. Pleasant, I was always bugging my Dad – telling him how we needed to invest in a Threshing Machine. He always failed to catch the vision. So, all these years later – I now have one. It’s a bit smaller than the real deal – but it also fits on my desk!
Kudos to the amazing resources below for the many quotes, photographs, etc. used on this page.