By Staff
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Left to right: Charlie Stark, secretary/treasurer; H. R. Shoemaker, safety officer; Rick Anderson, president; and John Pekarek, vice president.

The following history of Branch 16 was written by James Haynie,
one of the club’s charter members. According to Kick Anderson,
Jr., the current president of the club, there are now approximately
90 active members and the club has continued to grow and

In September 1971, after some deliberation as to spending the
$4.00, I finally decided to take my wife (Beulah), my father
(Gordon), and my mother (Nellie) to the steam engine show at its
nearly new show ground, east of Republic, Missouri.

Being born in 1920, these mammoth machines were mostly retired
before my time but I had helped to saw lumber with one, also my dad
had told me stories of his days of having an upright on a wagon
which he pulled his well drill with. This engine was retired after
he crossed Big Sac river with the boiler still hot from finishing a
well at Lick Skillet School. Half way across the river the wagon
turned over and the hot boiler landed in the cold river and split
wide open.

Anyway after looking over the steam engines and watching the
threshing and lumber sawing, we started back to look in the tin
sheds north of the saw mill. We stopped to look at the saws and
etc. in the Springfield machinery shed. Just north of this shed sat
a man in a chair. I recognized him as Mr. John Bery and beside him
he had three gas engines. He was completely tired out from cranking
on them but had only been able to get one of them started all day.
You should have seen the grin on his face (he had a grin on his
face as big as a wave on a slop bucket.) Boy was he proud of
getting one started. It was a 3 H.P. Novo. It seemed to make no
difference to John that he was the only man there with an engine
running. (There were only a few other engines setting around and
they had been left by their owners and seemed to be for display
only.) John was having a one man show. Well about one hour later
John had converted another person from manhood to boyhood and I
swore to start looking for one for myself.

JOHN THE MAN* To know John and Pearl Bery was an experience in
itself. They had a store in Ash Grove, Mo. and sold used stuff.
Anything from used razor blades to Player Pianos. Pearl sold the
dishes, clothes, kitchen pots and pans, books, furniture, etc.
Toward the back of the store John had his chair by the stove.
(Johns’ knees were bad from his years of pole climbing for the
R.E.A. so he had to sit down a lot). Behind the stove was
Johns’ part of the business. On tables and shelves were tools.
You could buy a pair of pliers for five cents, a shovel for a
quarter, a box of used nails for a dime, and for 50 cents probably
the least worn thing he had, a R.E.A. crowbar. On the top shelf
were his antique tools, full sets of wooden planes, sets of monkey
wrenches, Model T wrenches, etc. These were higher priced and he
loved to trade them.

In the back room of the store among the boxes of books, used
clothes, used beds and mattresses, John had his work shop. This is
where he worked on his engines and you can imagine Pearl’s
howls when he started one and filled the place with smoke. Imagine
how it smelled with old shoes, musty books, used mattresses and gas
engine smoke, but, nobody seemed to mind for John and Pearl had a
smile and hello for everybody. They traveled a lot and he had a
camper, of sorts, on the back of his pickup and they belonged to
the Winnebago Club. They had been to Texas to a Winnebago meet and
to Paris, Mo. to the gas engine show. He had taken dozens of
slides. I didn’t know there were that many old engines in the
world. He said there were 125 engines, one of the largest shows in
the U.S.A. The club at Paris belonged to a national group called
The Early Days Gas Engine and Tractor Assn. Imagine a club of gas
engine men all over the U. S. A. John said there was already 15
different clubs formed with over 2000 members.

A few weeks after the Republic show I went to John &. Pearls
store looking for some paint and John asked if I had found a gas
engine. I told him I had bought a 3 H.P. I.H.C. that had been in a
fire and was in a very bad state. It was then that he said we
should start a club in Ash Grove. There were two or three others
interested. He’d found an old Fairfield Rinder engine, Johnny
Richter had an Eclipse and Orvis Schnieder had a Lawson and he knew
2 brothers in Springfield who had about 20 engines (Jon and Joe
Nichols) also his brother Joe Bery in Lamar, Mo. had 2 engines
running and a Rock Island to restore.

I had never belonged to any kind of a club before but I told
John I’d be interested. Then I never thought of what that
statement could lead to. Boy was I dumb. Little did I realize it
would lead to a passion almost equal to Love, Marriage and War.
Well after a lot of phone calls and talking, John set the first
meeting night for Sat. Nov. 23, 1971. Talk about a crazy bunch,
there was 6′ of snow on the ground and 4 below zero that night.
Johns’ wife made a big pot of coffee and Joes’ wife brought
about a bushel of homemade donuts. John had received the rules we
had to go by to join the National and they were very simple.
Everything was fine except we needed thirteen members to start a
club. John read the rules and said he could find nothing saying
women couldn’t join so we put our wives down as members. Final
count 12 members, one short. Did our feathers fall, we were stuck
unless we could find one more member. John wasn’t a man to give
up easily. Back to the rules. There was nothing about a member
having to own an engine. John and Pearl had a man who helped at the
store who was about a peck short of a bushel and couldn’t even
sign his name. We forged his name on a card and passed the hat for
his dues. Now we had 13 members. In our application went and on
Dec. 17, 1971 we received our charter from Paul Marquardt,
secretary of the National. Now we were a club.

We had a few meetings up to spring and in July at a meeting at
our house, we had a big turn out and signed a group from Billings,
Mo. (John and I had made several trips over to Billings to try and
get them to join.) Branch 16 of the E. D. G. E. & T. Assn. was
off and running. We voted to hold our meetings on the first
Saturday night of each month. We would go to a different members
house each month. We would have drinks and cookies with the host
serving. What fun to show off our engines to the whole club and
usually somebody brought a new engine they had found. John was a
very good President. He kept everyone happy and the meeting going.
For the next several years we followed this pattern. In these early
meetings and first shows, we spent most of our time cranking and
working on our engines. As the club grew we got more members who
knew how to start and run them.

As the years have gone by we have lost several very good and
fine members. Both John and Joe Bery are now passed on, also Mr.
Netzer, Mr. Hayes, Mr. Lathrum – to name a few. I know there were
others but I cannot remember their names.

In conclusion, I have had but one regret for the club. That is
our lack of young members. I would like to see some program started
to interest young men and women to carry on the shows and
restoration of old farm equipment. If they do not, it will soon be
a lost age.

Hoping you will overlook any mistakes I have made and anyone I
have forgotten in this article.

Gas Engine Magazine
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Preserving the History of Internal Combustion Engines