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
  • Smartphone kill switches are coming

    Smartphones need kill switches. It's a relatively easy solution to the pricey (and irritating) problem of smartphone theft. But who would have thought that the big carriers would team up with Apple, Google, Microsoft, Nokia, Samsung and lots of other manufacturers to voluntarily begin adding the technology by July 2015? The cooperative spirit! It makes so much sense!

    April 18, 2014

  • Why do wolves howl?

    Of all the myths that dog the wolf, none is more widely accepted than the idea that wolves howl at the moon. Images of wolves with their heads upturned, singing at the night sky, are as unquestioned as a goldfish's three-second memory or a dog's color-blindness (both also myths).

    April 18, 2014

  • Biggest student loan profits come from grad students

    This week, the Congressional Budget Office projected that the federal government would earn roughly $127 billion from student lending during the next 10 years.

    April 18, 2014

  • quake.jpg Pennsylvania won’t take action following Ohio ruling on quakes, fracking

    Pennsylvania officials plan no action despite new Ohio rules on drilling that affect a seismically active area near the state line.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • DOT photo Public learns latest about Northwest Bypass at DOT meeting

    OSKALOOSA -- Many area residents learned the latest about the U.S. 63 Northwest Bypass of Oskaloosa at a public information meeting held Wednesday evening at Oskaloosa Middle School. The two-hour meeting featured tables with maps of the three propose

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • VIDEO: Boston bomb scare defendant appears in court

    The man accused of carrying a backpack containing a rice cooker near the Boston Marathon finish line on the anniversary of the bombings was arraigned Wednesday. He's being held on $100,000 bail.

    April 17, 2014

  • Consumer spending on health care jumps as Affordable Care Act takes hold

    Nancy Beigel has known since September that she would need hernia surgery. She couldn't afford it on her $11,000 yearly income until she became eligible for Medicaid in January through President Barack Obama's signature health care law.

    April 17, 2014

  • The case for separate beds

    The other night I slept on a twin bed in the guest room of the house I share with my husband and our two kids.
    It was the best night's sleep I've had in years.

    April 17, 2014

  • Raw oysters spike U.S. rise in bacterial infections, CDC reports

    Raw oysters, so good with hot sauce, increasingly can carry something even more unsettling to the stomach: A bacteria linked to vomiting, diarrhea and pain.

    April 17, 2014

  • To sleep well, you may need to adjust what you eat and when

    Sleep.  Oh, to sleep.  A good night's sleep is often a struggle for more than half of American adults.  And for occasional insomnia, there are good reasons to avoid using medications, whether over-the-counter or prescription.

    April 16, 2014

Features
AP Video
Ceremony Marks 19th Anniversary of OKC Bombing Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Raw: Church Tries for Record With Chalk Jesus Police Arrest Suspect in Highway Shootings Drought Concerns May Hurt Lake Tourism Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home Calif. Investigators Re-construct Fatal Bus Cras Appellate Court Hears Okla. Gay Marriage Case Horseless Carriage Introduced at NY Auto Show Chelsea Clinton Is Pregnant Beau Biden Plans 2016 Run for Del. Governor Flamingo Frenzy Ahead of Zoo Construction Obama: 8 Million Healthcare Signups Obama Hopeful on Ukraine, Will Watch Russians U.S. Sending Nonlethal Aid to Ukraine Military
Facebook
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

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

Which service of the Knoxville Chamber of Commerce do you believe is most beneficial for its membership?

Events
Legislative lobbying
Promotional material publication
Educational programs for the community
Other
     View Results