Our Iowa Heritage: Growing Up in Mt. Pleasant – Old Threshers.

My Hometown – Mt. Pleasant, Iowa – Honoring Agriculture in the Heartland.

Mt. Pleasant, Iowa – circa 1910.

In 1912, the U.S. Postal Department introduced parcel post service for sending items weighing 16 ounces or more through the mail.  The mail is divided into four classes, with parcel post making up the fourth class. Almost any type of merchandise can be mailed parcel post, including day – old chicks, baby alligators, and honeybees.  Only items that could be dangerous to handle cannot be sent through Parcel Post. Rural Americans used the new mail class to access goods and merchandise they could not have gotten before, giving rise to mail order giants like Sears, Roebuck and Co. and Montgomery Ward and Co. Twelve stamps with various denominations were issued in 1912-13 to prepay the fourth-class rate.

(S-0023) Of the twelve Parcel Post stamps to be used for the new parcel post service, the four highest denominations in the series honored manufacturing and agriculture across America. This 75¢ stamp features a grain-harvesting scene – a threshing machine and team of horses stand in front of a large pile of grain. This stamp was the last of the series to be retired, and was still delivered to some post offices until 1922.

Circa 1910

(P-0195) The Midwest Old Settlers and Threshers Reunion – Mt. Pleasant.

(M-0082) 1972 Greentree Pottery (Judy Sutcliffe) commemorative plate.

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…from Iowa As It Is, N. Howe Parker, 1855, p136.

Ray Ernst – A True Old Thresher.

Growing up in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, the annual Old Threshers Reunion was always a big highlight of our year. My grandmother (Olive Boller) and her brothers were good friends with Ray Ernst, one of the founding members of the reunion (the guy in the middle of the front row in the picture).

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Ray owned a huge Avery steam-traction threshing machine – the biggest at the show. When I was about 9 or 10 years old, my grandma convinced Ray that her grandson would be in second-heaven if he could sit with Ray as he guided his thresher in the big Cavalcade of Power. A highlight in my life, I’ll never forget!

(P-0089) Ray Ernst’s Avery Steam Engine featured on a vintage postcard, and (M-0011) the 1965 Old Threshers Reunion button.

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(M-0100) Ray’s Engine was featured on this very rare 1957 Old Threshers Souvenir Badge.

(P-0271) So here’s my childhood dream – to own and operate one of these scale models of an Old Thresher. For some reason, my dad never seemed to catch the vision!

Passing on the Family Tradition: David & Grandpa George (1981), Lydia, Gavin, George, Abigail, Jack, Grandma Sandy & Grandpa Marty (2018).


(P-0094) Mt. Pleasant, Iowa: My Home Town and Home to the Midwest Old Settlers and Threshers Reunion.

The Midwest Old Settlers and Threshers Reunion held in Mt. Pleasant was created in 1949 to keep the memory alive of threshing machines like these and the hard-working farmers of Iowa and the entire Midwest.


(P-0090) E.M. Shirk, a farmer in Princeton, Iowa (north of Davenport in Scott County) wrote to the Huber Manufactoring Company in Marion, Ohio, responding to an ad he saw in Farm & Fireside Magazine. He wants information on Huber Threshing Machines. From the stamp on the backside, it appears Huber also forwarded Shirk’s request to the Avery Planter Company, a competitor in Galesburg, IL as well.

(P-0249) Here’s a New Huber on the grounds of Old Threshers in Mt. Pleasant.

Huber Threshers were easily identified by the smoke stack located at the rear of the engine.

(M-0012) (L-0095) Here’s a Huber featured on the 1961 Old Threshers Reunion button pictured amongst our complete set of Old Thresher pins from the 1960’s. When I was a kid wandering the grounds of Old Threshers in the early 1960’s, I had an Oshkosh Railroaders Cap (like the one below) with all my pins displayed. I’ve recreated a similar cap today.


(P-0095) During the first few years of the reunion (1949-1960), postcards and special covers would be postmarked on the Reunion grounds and then carried to the Mt. Pleasant post office by steam engine! In later years, covers were just postmarked at the Reunion by the on-site Post Office.

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(P-0096) By reading the postcard, Jack, who must have worked for WGIL radio in Galesburg, IL, decided he rather take in the Old Threshers Reunion in Mt. Pleasant rather than attending a Cubs game at Wrigley Field in Chicago!

From 1959…

(P-0282) 1962 Old Threshers Reunion – Mt. Pleasant

(BH-136) In 1969, Author Dana Close Jennings put together “The Greatest Steam Show On Earth” – a beautiful 89-page picture book featuring tons of photos from the Reunion.

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(P-0098) (P-0093)

(P-0101) The Midwest Old Settlers and Threshers Reunion Oh, how I love steam engines and locomotives!

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