R. D. 2 Wauchula, Florida 33873
I will tell you my age so you will know the time I lived in and most remember. I was born in 1915 on a dairy farm near Randolph, N.Y. (Cattaraugus County). I am the oldest of ten children which are all living. After 1927 we moved from one large farm to another. My parents made their last move in 1939 to a large farm in Mayville, N.Y., which one brother still owns.
I remember very plainly my Uncle Nickerson, who had the dealership for the Advance Rumley Company from 1920 to 1929, sold a neighbor John Grover a new oil pull tractor. It was in 1921 or 1922 and a 12-20. Mr. Grover died soon after that so my uncle took it back. This was my first sight of a Rumley.
In 1924 my Uncle Charlie and a over all agent by the name of Jack Helna (I am not sure about the spelling of the last name) sold my dad a new thrashing machine. It was a 22 X 36 the last wooden machine the company built. It had a self feeder, weigher, and wind stacker. This machine cost about $1,350.00 (A lot of money those days.). Mr. Helna was from Rochester, N.Y.
Dad also bought a 10-20 Titan tractor from a Mr. Leo Harkness to run the thrasher.
It was sure some sight when the thrasher and two tractors which Uncle Charlie had sold came in on a railroad car. Half of the village turned out to see them unload them.
It took three days to get the belt on and get everything adjusted to run. Soon after, while moving from one job to an other the drive chain came off on top a big hill and this put the tractor out of control. The draw pin flew out and run the thrasher tongue into the road bank and stopped it. The tractor driven by a man, Chancy Dexter, Dad had hired, ran down the hill. Those who saw it said it was jumping three feet in the air. The man held it in the road. When it came to a stop it had a broken frame and several broken castings. They always chained a wheel after that on a hill.
This is my 20-35 Model M Oil Pull which I restored last fall.
The next year another Uncle John Frentz bought a 15-25 oil pull and went in partners with Dad until the depression. Dad then bought the oil pull that Uncle Charlie had (12-20). It had been traded around but was in good condition. He gave a three teated heifer and the old Titan for it.
We boys would go with Dad on the thrasher until school started in the fall. Those were the most trying years. Some times we would thrash for weeks and not take in a cent. The farmers did not have it. This was in the dairy zone where farmers at that time got 40 to 50 cents a hundred weight for milk.
At this time we milked from 20 to 35 cows by hand. It was another great day when Dad bought an Empire milker. It was run by a Stover gas engine with the vacuum pump in the fly wheel. It sat down on one end of the stable behind the heifers. When Dad was not around my brother and I would take the spark plug wire and touch ones tail with it while other one turned the engine over. Dad use to wonder why they kicked so bad. We also had a six horse power Majestic engine that ran the buzz saw.
In January 1927 Dad, Uncle Charlie, and Uncle John Frentz drove to Harrisburg, Pa. to an Advance Rumley School. They were gone a week or more. My mother still has a picture of that school.
I will go back and talk about Jack Helna, the Rumley agent from Rochester, N.Y. He was very good to us boys and we sure liked to see him come. I can still see him in a gray suit, some gold teeth, chewing on a cigar, that he seldom smoked. He had nose pincher glasses and drove a 1924 Model T Ford coupe. We sure liked to hear him tell his tales. He was like a rich Uncle.
My Uncle Charlie Nickerson was a genious with machinery of that time. It was better than a show to hear him, my Dad and Jack talk. He had a farm. about ten miles from Jamestown, at Towerville, He owned a thrashing rig and thrashed around Jamestown and Sinclairville, also Gerry. Uncle Charlie drove a 1918 seven passenger Chandler touring car. It had a Pike's Peak motor and was fast in those days. This was the first car I ever rode 50 miles an hour.
He also had a saw mill and one of the last steam traction engines in the area. He sold a number of tractors and thrashers in that part of the state.
If our tractor broke down Uncle Charlie would be there to fix it. I never heard of him having a single enemy.
Before the depression we moved to Sinclairville, N.Y. and then in 1933 to Devittville.
While living in Devittville I left home and married. In 1938 I lost track of the Rumley tractors thrashers. During this time Dad sold the thrashers to a fellow, who after using it one year pulled it back of a barn and let it rot down. When I found out, it was too late and beyond repairs.
The old oilpull was traded in on a later tractor.
Dad then moved to Mayville where he lived until his death in 1956.
After the war he and Uncle Charlie went to Olean, N.Y. and bought a 1924 15-25 Oil Pull and a 22 X 36 steel thrasher. The Oil Pull tractor was torn down and scattered over a barn floor. They brought them home and with the help of my brothers put it together. The old tractor ran very good.
I took it to Clymer, N.Y. in 1952 then in 1954 took it to the Wattsburg fair near Erie, Pa. as an antique piece. I also showed milking Shorthorn cattle.
Dad lost interest in the old tractor and sold it for $150.00. I understand it sold at a public auction last fall for $500.00.
I will now go back to myself. We bought a dairyfarm of 220 acres near Clymer, N.Y. in 1942. It is between Jamestown and Eire, Pa. This is a Dutch community and the best of neighbors.
The first picture is a close up of Luzerne Ball, Tarpon Springs, Florida, and his model of a Frick sawmill at the 1967 Reunion of the PIONEER GAS ENGINE ASSOCIATION, INC., which he built in the winter of 1965-66.
The second picture shows it set up in the model tent, being powered by a Duro ? H.P. air cooled engine made by the Duro Pump and Machine Co., Dayton, Ohio, which is owned by Lowell Hines and William Cook of Candor, New York.
A Rumely Six, owned by David Shearns of Marion, N.Y., was shown for the first time at the 1967 Reunion of The PIONEER GAS ENGINE ASSOCIATION, INC. It has a six cylinder M Z Waukesha motor. David purchased it from Frank Cain of Deerfield, Mich, in 1967. It was probably used in a sawmill. David had to rewire it, rebuild the carburetor and do a few other things. It did not need much restoration. The tractor has a self starter. The operator is Robert Abbott of Fairport, New York.
Soon after the war I took inflammatory rheumatism and kept getting worse so my doctor advised us to go to a warmer climate. By this time we had three boys and a girl all school age. I went to Florida and bought a 40 acre farm with only a house on it near Wauchula. I came back and sold the farm at Clymer and proceeded to move. This is a long story so will make it short. However this was the best move we ever made.
I bought a 1951 Chevy two ton truck and made five complete trips 1300 miles one way.
We took my tractor a 1946 model B.O. John Deere and all the equipment with it which I still have and use. Also our furniture and all dairy equipment, and 12 head of dairy cattle.
Wauchula is in south central Florida. It is not a tourist town but is the cucumber capital of the world, and raises lots of citrus, too. When we came they were still fighting the Civil War and there was no place for a Damn Yankee, (a Damn Yankee is one who stays here.) They also told me that only fools and yankees predict the weather.
The first question they asked was what church we belonged to and insinuated we get one, because we might need it.
This has all changed after we got acquainted and they found that yankee dollars help keep Florida green.
In the summer of 1955 we built a dairy barn and milked about 20 cows. We sold our milk to Sealtest in Tampa, Florida which we had to deliver every other day. In a short time we increased our dairy to 90 cows and made money until the Florida Milk Commission came in 1959 then we broke even. In 1964 we built our own plant.
By this time the two oldest boys had their own dairy farms which consisted of 40 acres each and kept 100 head to the farm. The youngest boy is in partnership with me and milks 75 cows.
The three boys and I own equal shares in the plant. We process 700 to 900 gallons milk a day.
We put the milk up in plastic bottles and wholesale it to the grocery stores. The competition was a little rough to start with but soon smoothed out. We are known as Nickerson's Dairies, Inc.
I thought this might be of interest as most readers are agricultured minded.
As time went on I often thought of the good times I had with the Oil Pull tractors and persuaded myself I wanted one just to play with. Of course it was a job to persuade my wife. She had all kinds of excuses and I could not blame her.
This is a picture of an old auto sparker made by Matsinger Mfg. Co. of Lafayette, Indiana and an old German Bosch low tension magneto; both used on gas engines. Also, an old AtwaterKent high tension spark coil.
These are still in good working condition and in my possession and now in my collection.
Leroy and Lucille Blaker at Christmas time 1967 with I.H.C. tractor and 1968 Polora car.
When I got my first issue of GEM last summer it had an ad of an 20-35 Oil Pull tractor for sale by Mr. E.F. Schmidt of Bluffton, 'Ohio. I called him on the phone and had him hold it for me until I got there.
I took off alone with my cattle truck and stayed on route 75 except where I had to detour.
When I got there the old tractor sure did look sad. It was painted a terrible gray, the fenders were off, it ran on one cylinder by squirting gas in the carburetor with a can. Other than that it was in good shape.
I left my truck in Finley and took a bus to Princeton, Ill. where our daughter lives. They brought me back to my truck.
The next day Mr. Schmidt and I loaded the Oil Pull and an old 4 h.p. Jauger gas engine I bought from him. I started for home. Mr. Schmidt has some-good pieces. One that interested me most was a 10-20 titan tractor. It was in beautiful shape.
Every time I stopped for gas, a crowd would gather around and ask questions. This always pleased me.
When I crossed the state line the patrol stopped me and asked what I had on. I told them the backend of a Georgia still.
When I got home I sold the Jaugar gas engine to a friend by the name of Tony Ullrich. He has done a beautiful job on it and it sure runs nice. Tony has about 15 old gas engines and a 0-14 International tractor since then. His father has a machine shop. This is a big help to me also.
I restored the Oil Pull as fast as possible and showed it at the Hardee County fair. I also took it to the American Royal gas and steam round up in February 10 & 11, 1968 at Sarasota, Florida.
One lady came up to me and asked why any one would take up a hobby like that for. I told her when a man got to old to chase women he would often take up with old things like this. She turned up her nose and took off.
I will admit old tractors are of no value, only as antiques; but I sure enjoy to hear it run. When I get to feeling blue I take it for a run, then I feel much better.
I feel certain that the Oil Pull tractor played a big part in mechanizing agriculture of today. They were about the most complicated to run and ran the best when adjusted right.
This Yuba ball tread tractor - 1914, Model 12, was made by Yuba Construction Company at Maryland, California. I saw this tractor at the South Shasta Steam Threshing Bee at Gerber, California.
This was the first reunion I had attended and certainly felt my time was well spent. It is hard to believe that just a few short years ago this equipment was in use and what it will be like in future years. I would like to recommend to others that have never taken the time to enjoy the bygone days that it is certainly a sight worth seeing and to those who have worked with this type of machinery it is a vault of memories.
I would not trade it for a new Cadillac. It just isn't for sale.
I also have a 4 h.p. Novo engine that bought at Mulberry, Florida and a 6 h.p. F.M. I found under an oak tree in Sebring, Florida. They are being restored.
My oldest boy Norman has a G.P. John Deere that he is restoring. Maybe we can put on a show of our own.
We welcome visitors and like to talk So, when you are in Florida, look us up. We are 13 miles west of Avon Park and 7 miles east of Wauchula on route 64. If you can not find me, ask for the Damn Yankee.
My health sure has been better down here, and I feel fine.
I have really enjoyed the good articles in GEM, please keep them coming.