I currently write a column each Tuesday for the DeKalb
Daily Chronicle. The column will also appear on this website
each week and be added to the archives.
The Articles started December 2007.
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Steam power show grounds a farmer's legacy
By Barry Schrader Senior Columnist...................August 7, 2012
Taylor Marshall passed away in 1988, but his legacy can still
be seen annually at the Northern Illinois Steam Power Clubs
annual Steam Show & Threshing Bee.
Marshall, who owned a farm on Lukens Road off Plank Road a few
miles north of Sycamore, was a longtime steam engine enthusiast,
even though he never owned one.
The steam power club had held annual shows in scattered locations
around northern Illinois since 1957, but had no permanent location
until Marshall suggested they use his grove of trees and some
adjoining acreage for their 1967 show. Now 45 years later, the
show is still running and will be
held this week
from Thursday through Sunday.
After his death, two nieces Bonnie Justis and Marilyn Challand,
who inherited the farm, have continued to lease the land to the
club, and the show has grown into one of the most popular of
its kind in the Midwest.
Club vice president Milan Duchaj explained to me that having
a permanent site and being able to construct buildings and toilet
facilities has greatly contributed to its continued success.
They also plant wheat each year to demonstrate the antique equipment,
as well as corn (saved from the previous years crop) for
shelling and wood for the sawmill.
The late Taylor Marshall and his wife, Hazel, shown here
on their John Deere, used to participate in the annual parade
of farm equipment at the Sycamore Steam Show & Threshing
Bee held for the past 45 years on their land. Taylor Marshall some 40 years ago.
Duchaj said they used to shock the wheat in earlier times, but
now harvest it in July and store the bundles in the metal building
to keep it dry. They have the usual 13 loads all ready to use
this week. Visitors will see two large threshing machines (separators)
operating during the show, owned by Bill Karl, Jr., and the late
Maynard Petersen. They also bring in lots of steam engines, old
tractors of all kinds, small gas engines, and a working steam
power shovel, much bigger than the one I built as a kid with
my erector set.
Talking with Marshalls niece, Bonnie Justis and her husband,
Jim, last week I heard how much he loved the show. Marshall and
his wife Hazel used to drive one of their tractors in the daily
parade pulling a hayrack with the Sycamore Kitchen Band on it.
Marshall was born in the farmhouse just across the road and spent
his entire 79-year life on that land. Hazel (Listy) lived just
up the road as a girl and both went to the Charter Grove School
nearby, the same one my wife Kay attended in her grade-school
People come from all over northern Illinois and beyond to get
a taste of early 20th Century farming, including the sights,
sounds and smells of the rural life that is fast slipping away
from our memories.
My favorites are the Noon Toot when all the steam
engine whistles blow at once, the 1:30 p.m. daily parade of farm
vehicles, and the pork chops at Fays Pork Chop Bar-B-Que
tent where I get a chance to talk with my old Waterman schoolmate
Marcia (Fay) and her husband Bob Dempsey.
Of course, the big flea market is another draw, but my wife has
me under a little better control now, so I dont hang out
there as much
The columnist can be reached via email at :
or by snailmail at:
PO Box 851
DeKalb, Ill 60115