Iron Horses and Dairy Farms



A few years ago I was asked to do some history on Auburn Township, Geauga County. Enclosed is a story about threshing from the 1920s through the 1940s. Then, some steam engines were used again in the fall for silo

filling. The people named in the story have all passed away and our beautiful dairy farms are vanishing now as the steam engines did then.

Jean L. Fugman

Chagrin Falls, Ohio

Iron Horses and Dairy Farms

By Jean L. Fugman

The following lines tell a story or yarn of summer on a dairy farm in the area before World War II and before the “Iron Horse” vanished, replaced by the combine, a way of life that is no more but will always live in memory.

The spring planting season of April and May fly by very fast. When June arrives, the lush green fields of hay are cut and put in the barns or stacked to be fed out during the winter months. Now some hay is put in the silo, a “new way!” In July the next exciting episode of harvest time arrived. The golden grains of summer, wheat and oats, would be cut and shocked and standing in the fields like little houses and just the right size to play “hide and seek” in and around.

At this time, the threshing was done with a steam engine, sometimes called an “Iron Horse,” and a separator. Some of the farmers had their own engine and separator but there were also those who did custom work and would travel around doing threshing and silo filling.

The McFarlands in Bainbridge had a rig, as the engine and separator were called, and it was always exciting to see the rig going along Rt. 422. The classes at Auburn School came to a standstill at silo filling time when the rig went by. In some cases, the teachers were just as excited as the students, and the boys were ready to run out and jump on the rig.

At the turn of the century, the Fugman brothers on the Mantua-Auburn town line had a rig and also used the engine for sawmill work in Portage and Geauga counties. Guy Root, also from Mantua, did custom work and was seriously injured when his arm was caught in the machinery.

In the 1920s, a group of farmers on Brown Road (now Munn Road) in Auburn Township bought a rig. They were Ben Bliss, Lee Bliss, Robert Timmons, Fred Dietz and Verne and Myrle Davis. The engine was a Peerless and the separator was a big Minneapolis, built by the Minneapolis Machinery Company. Later the Peerless was replaced by a Huber engine.

The rig had to be kept somewhere so it was decided to keep it in what used to be a large sheep barn in Verne Davis’ orchard.

When July arrived the excitement began in earnest and a day was planned to get together at the shed and go over the engine and separator.

…To be continued next issue

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