Leader's Water Pump Engine

| September/October 1993

  • Norm Westervelt Engine
    Decatur Owego Leader and Norm Westervelt.

  • Norm Westervelt Engine

5855 Lisle Road, Owego, New York 13827

Tioga County, New York, celebrated its 200th anniversary in 1991 with all the pomp and hoop-la befitting the occasion. I was serving as the County Historian and was dedicated to the success of all the programs and events; parades, dances, Old Home Days, history book, historical hikes and walks, video tapes, etc. Yet, something was missing that would appeal to some of the old-timers. We needed to show off special whatever of county history that had not been officially recognized before.

I decided to rummage through old artifacts stored in the carriage house behind the Tioga County Historical Society Museum. What is this? The rusted hunk of iron looked like an old engine. After removing a lot of stuff that had been piled on top of it, I could see what looked like a nameplate. I couldn't resist dragging it out to the light.

The nameplate was readable and it had our county seat, Owego, New York, shown as co-manufacturer. The plate read Leader Iron Works, Decatur, Illinois and Owego, New York, serial V124710,1 HP, 550 RPM. I looked up the donation card and found that it came from the Ackles farm at North Spencer, Tioga County.

After a little more digging in the miscellaneous artifact pile I found an old vegetable root cutter that was branded by Colmman and Horton of Nichols, New York.

I thought that the engine and cutter would make a nice duo for a piece of our county history if they could possibly be restored to running condition. A steam and gasoline show was scheduled as a part of the County's Old Home Day at Hickories Park. This event would provide an excellent opportunity to show the public another part of our history.