229 West Boundary, Perrysburg, Ohio 43551
The above photo, taken in a beet field in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, in the late teens, shows one of the early beet harvester machines, built by The American Beet Harvester Company in Toledo, Ohio. Many of the features of this design are incorporated in the present day beet harvesters. Many other designs appeared in different parts of the United States as late as 1945, but like other agricultural machines, they fell to larger corporations with the wherewithal to market them.
The machine pictured was powered by a two cylinder Fairbanks Morse engine. The beet harvester had spiral twin screws to uproot the beets and carry them up to the conveyor after topping them between two revolving discs. The beets were then conveyed to the side on the ground where they were piled by hand in bunches to be picked up later and trucked to the elevators. Later machines, of course, were able to pile the beets into a truck that followed the harvester, eliminating the necessity of picking them up by hand.
The photo shows my father, William C. Kern, a machinist who helped build the early machine in the Toledo Factories Building, Toledo, Ohio. Dr. Frederick M. Douglas, a well-known Toledo physician, along with others, helped finance the project.