Journal Express, Knoxville, IA

CNHI/SE Iowa

April 9, 2012

Retired John Deere workers restore century-old corn planter

Back on the assembly line

OTTUMWA — A 110-year-old Janney corn planter got spruced up and rebuilt Saturday afternoon.

After Linda and Dennis Besick bought Linda’s parents’ farm after their deaths in 2002 and 2009, they found a corn planter that was surprisingly intact.

“We talked about selling it but thought we’d take it to the historical museum people first,” Linda said.

The Wapello County Historical Museum’s project director, Jim Johnson, and the city’s park maintenance supervisor, Chris Cobler, came down to look at it and immediately decided they had to have it for the museum, since the planter was built in Ottumwa and had stayed in the county its entire life.

Cobler, Dennis Besick, Dean Mincks and Kermit Smith, all retired John Deere Ottumwa Works employees, gathered at Cobler’s house Saturday afternoon to rebuild the planter.

It took them just over an hour.

The planter was made at Janney Manufacturing Company in 1902, located in east Ottumwa, where WINBCO Tank stands today.

Janney was established in 1899 by G. Campbell Janney, though by 1905 it had filed for bankruptcy. By 1906, the company was selling thousands of dollars worth of equipment to Kenney Machine Co. in Indianapolis, and by 1911 Janney was completely defunct.

In its heyday, though, the company labeled itself as the “originators of the steel frame corn planter” and a factory that employed “all first-class mechanics” who produced a “good product, good service and moderate prices.”

It’s rumored that Joseph Dain, who founded a hay tool plant which was later bought out by John Deere Ottumwa Works, bought the foundry equipment to be used in his foundry across the river, Johnson said, though no written information can be found as to what happened to Janney’s buildings and equipment.

Linda’s grandparents, Irvin and Anna Nedrow, originally bought the corn planter in the early 1900s. Lehr Nedrow, Linda’s father, was 11 when Irvin died, forcing Lehr to drop out of high school his freshman year to help farm.

In 1960, Lehr bought the planter at his mother’s estate auction and moved it to his farm in Wapello County, where it sat unused until today.

After Linda and Dennis bought her parents’ farm, they decided the planter needed a permanent home at the Wapello County Historical Museum.

The group even got help from Wells Fargo, as Dusty Stewart, business banker, “fought to get the money secured for its restoration,” said Mike Weston, investment advisor at Wells Fargo.

“We were glad to do our small part,” Weston said. “It’s not that easy to get donations for something like this.”

Weston especially liked that Cobler wasn’t imitating shows like “American Restoration,” which completely refurbish old equipment to make it look brand new.

Instead, Cobler was simply cleaning up the machine and putting a special coating on it to preserve it.

Dennis said he had no idea how the corn planter had stayed in such great shape all these years, since it had been sitting in a barn where it most likely was hit by bad weather from time to time. But all of the wood was still intact, and some of the bright red and green colors were still shining through after Cobler finished cleaning it up.

“I tell you what, those guys were inventors,” Cobler said. “We’ve just made improvements.”

1
Text Only
CNHI/SE Iowa
  • linda-ronstadt.jpg Obama had crush on First Lady of Rock

    Linda Ronstadt remained composed as she walked up to claim her National Medal of Arts at a White House ceremony Monday afternoon.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Can black women have it all?

    In a powerful new essay for the National Journal, my friend Michel Martin makes a compelling case for why we need to continue the having-it-all conversation.

    July 29, 2014

  • 0729 OTT Picture veteran -T -M Veteran finally receives his medals OTTUMWA — A World War II injury may have saved the life of a U.S. Coast Guardsman from Iowa, but he lost friends and a box of military awards. Francis Hardy Harbour was born on Dec.16, 1919, in Drakesville. He joined the Coast Guard in 1941 as a mach

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Dangerous Darkies Logo.png Redskins not the only nickname to cause a stir

    Daniel Snyder has come under fire for refusing to change the mascot of his NFL team, the Washington Redskins. The Redskins, however, are far from being the only controversial mascot in sports history.  Here is a sampling of athletic teams from all areas of the sports world that were outside the norm.

    July 28, 2014 3 Photos

  • 'Rebel' mascot rising from the dead

    Students and alumni from a Richmond, Va.-area high school are seeking to revive the school's historic mascot, a Confederate soldier known as the "Rebel Man," spurring debate about the appropriateness of public school connections to the Civil War and its icons.

    July 28, 2014

  • Fast food comes to standstill in China

    The shortage of meat is the result of China's latest food scandal, in which a Shanghai supplier allegedly tackled the problem of expired meat by putting it in new packaging and shipping it to fast-food restaurants around the country

    July 28, 2014

  • wd saturday tobias .jpg Stranger’s generosity stuns Ohio veteran

    Vietnam War veteran David A. Tobias was overwhelmed recently when a fellow customer at an OfficeMax store near Ashtabula, Ohio paid for a computer he was purchasing.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Screen Shot 2014-07-28 at 1.33.11 PM.png VIDEO: High-dive accident caught on tape

    A woman at a water park in Idaho leaped off a 22-foot high dive platform, then tried to pull herself back up with frightening results. Fortunately, she escaped with only a cut to her finger.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • CATS-DOGS281.jpg Where cats are more popular than dogs in the U.S.-and all over the world

    We all know there are only two types of people in the world: cat people and dog people. But data from market research firm Euromonitor suggest that these differences extend beyond individual preferences and to the realm of geopolitics: it turns out there are cat countries and dog countries, too.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • How spy agencies keep their 'toys' from law enforcement

    A little over a decade ago, federal prosecutors used keystroke logging software to steal the encryption password of an alleged New Jersey mobster, Nicodemo Scarfo Jr., so they could get evidence from his computer to be used at his trial.

    July 25, 2014

Features
AP Video
House to Vote on Slimmed-down Bill for Border Looming Demand Could Undercut Flight Safety Fish Oil Plant Blast Kills One Two Huge Fires Burning in Northern California Giant Ketchup Bottle Water Tower Up for Sale Easier Nuclear Construction Promises Fall Short Suspect Dead, Marshals and Cop Wounded in NYC Judge OKs Record-setting $2B Sale of Clipper Arts, Humanities Awards Handed Out at WH Former Va. Governor's Corruption Trial Begins Trial Begins Over OKC Bombing Video $15B Deal on Vets' Health Care Reached Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. Maine Police Investigate Deaths of Family of 5 UN Security Council Calls for Gaza Cease-fire Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming 13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted
Facebook
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Poll

Upon completion and reopening of Third Street, should the City of Knoxville wait to start the next stage of the Streetscape and Infrastructure project until 2015?

Yes
No
     View Results