Hickory-Oaks Farm

Courtesy of Ronald and Christine Beem, Stillman Valley, Illinois 61084

Ronald and Christine Beem

Content Tools

Stillman Valley, Ill.61084

DAVIS JUNCTION, ILL.: A festival atmosphere prevailed at the North Central Illinois Steam Power Show, held at Hickory-Oaks Farm, Davis Junction, Ill., Aug. 1, 2, 3, and 4.

Hundreds of people attended the four day event of numerous exhibits and field demonstrations of agricultural methods of days gone by. Visitors registered in the guest book from Canada, New Mexico, California, South Dakota, New York, Florida, Colorado, Michigan, Maryland, Kansas, Arizona, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, Wisconsin, Iowa, Texas, Indiana, Arkansas, and Illinois.

The idea of a Steam Show began eighteen years ago when George W. Hedtke, President of North Central Illinois Steam Power Show, bought his first steam engine, a threshing machine, and a water wagon. The complete outfit was used to thresh grain in August of 1957, on a farm near the present show site. Hedtke's show interest has grown annually since that time, and he now owns a tremendous amount of ancient farm machinery, including a horse-powered threshing outfit, used annually and dating back to 1889.

For seven years the annual event was held on the King Farm, Kings, Ill. The 1974 show marked the first year of the show at Hickory-Oaks Farm, a 45 acre site, owned by Mr. Hedtke, which will be the permanent home of the show.

Smiling joyfully is Mrs. Mary B. Hedtke, 79, Lindenwood, Illinois as she rode in the parade in a single horsedrawn carriage at Hickory-Oaks Farm, during the North Central Illinois Steam Power Show in August. She was selected as the first 'Queen' of the Steam Power Threshing Bee at Hickory-Oaks Farm. The farm, owned by her son, George, will now be the permanent show site annually. Mrs. Hedtke proudly is wearing her corsage and is holding her harvest bouquet of oats and timber flowers, a gift arrangement from the ladies of the show.

Hedtke plans to turn the area into an agricultural museum in order to preserve a piece of our American heritage. In addition to the various steam and horse powered equipment of yesteryears, Hedtke will develop a Frontier Village of old time buildings at Hickory-Oaks Farm. A harness shop, town hall, blacksmith shop, and a barber shop, already have been donated for the Village site, and are awaiting to be moved.

The officers of North Central Illinois Steam Power Show are George Hedtke, president; Thomas Draus, vice-president; Emil Svanda, secretary-treasurer; all of Davis Junction, Ill.; and Jon Schwartz, assistant-secretary, of Rockford, Ill.

Something for Everyone

There was something for everyone at the beautiful newly formed show site. Kids were given hay-rack rides and could be seen jumping and throwing straw at one another in the giant straw pile at the edge of the field. Also there were pony rides for them and buggy rides. Seven teams of draft horses and mules took a great part in the 1974 show, also numerous ponies.

The various steam and horse powered machinery was seen by everyone in daily action in the field, and during the parade which began each day at 2:00 p.m. One of the featured attractions in the parade was the Liberty Bell Float. The 810 pound bronze bell, cast in 1884, in Cincinnati, Ohio, originally came from the Leaf River Methodist Church at Leaf River, Ill. Emil Svanda, one of the officers of North Central Illinois Steam Power Show, bought the huge bell at the Church Auction last November, and later consented to resell the bell at its cost, to Leonard Appel, past president, of Ogle County Taxpayers Association. The 810 pound bronze bell, mounted on a newly arranged float by Mr. Appel, will be used annually in parades. Leonard Appel rang the bell during the parade at the Steam Show to signify 'Let Freedom Ring'.

Mrs. Mary Hedtke, mother of North Central Illinois Steam Power Show President, George Hedtke, was honored as the 'Queen of the Threshing Bee', the first Queen of the Steam Power Show at Hickory-Oaks Farm. Wearing a costume such as was worn in the early part of the century, Mrs. Hedtke rode in the parade in a single horse drawn carriage. She was presented a Queen's bouquet of harvest time flowers, and a corsage.

Hold Plowing Demonstrations

Throughout the day, demonstrations of plowing were held with the power of steam engines and old gas tractors. Also horse plowing was demonstrated, using a team of horses on a walking plow, 3 horses on a gang plow, and 5 mules on a larger gang plow. Other daily demonstrations included threshing with steam and horse power, wire-tie straw baling, grain elevating using horse power and corn shelling using a stationary gas engine. In operation daily also, was a steam powered saw-mill, shingle mill, baker fan, and a treadmill. There was rope and woven fence making demonstrated by hand, plus rug weaving, wicker basket making, candle and soap making, and spinning of wool to yarn by the ladies in the large metal building recently built for show purpose and storage.

Of particular interest at the show was what could be called the first copper tub washing machine, powered by a small stationary gas engine. The gas engine pulley belted to the wash machine pulley, rocked the wash-tub back and forth, creating an agitating motion to clean the clothes. There also was an old time well pump, powered by a gas engine, a method used years ago to pump water from the ground. This nice working display was brought to the show by its owner, Fred Emmerson of Elgin, III.

Fred Emerson of Elgin puts clothes through a wringer washer powered by a diesel engine at the North Central Illinois Steam Power Show held at Hickory Oaks Farm, Davis Junction, on Aug. 1,2,3 and 4.

Beem photo.

A 1919 Model 'T' truck (1 ton) caught the eye of many show spectators, as well as did the numerous steam whistles on the smoke belching engines, as they sounded off for a shut down for the noon hour. Steam show time, is a great time down on the farm for the young generation as well as the older generation. Its educational for the young and reliving for the old.

Have Complete Facilities

The grounds had complete facilities with picnic tables for those who brought their lunch, and for the concession stands that provided popcorn, karmel corn, snow cones, taffy apples, cotton candy, and other food items, for the general public. There was lots of shade, drinking water and clean rest rooms. The Monroe Center Fire Department was on hand with first-aid tent service this year. As in the past years, the Monroe Center Union Church group, served daily meals, breakfast, dinners, and supper in the huge main building which will house the machinery during the winter months. The Union Church group certainly are complimented for their fine service and interest. The dining area was arranged for seating 300 people. Church Services were held at the show grounds, Sunday, Aug. 4, with a great attendance.

Even though the first two days of the show were overcast and threatened rain, those who came and saw the ancient machinery and demonstrations, came away with a better sense as to what America is all about. President Hedtke spoke from his speaker stand, Thursday and Friday at noon, and said, 'Folks we are in badly need of rain to save the crops, and to avoid hunger; we can always have a show.' Saturday and Sunday drew a tremendous crowd, making the 1974 show, a success at Hickory-Oaks Farm. Remember the show next year, the first week-end in August.