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|For as long as I can remember, there
have been various machines and antiquities in the barn on our family farm.
There were many that I could identify and many that I could not. One such
contrivance had a wooden hopper and a metal flywheel, and it sat on four
wooden legs. I just never really knew what it was.
One day I was rummaging through some papers that my mother had found in an old desk, and stuffed into a manila envelope. Among the papers, was an envelope containing a hand-written letter on a piece of letterhead that had an engraving of that mysterious machine. The letterhead identified the machine as a "cob and feed mill." The letter was from the manufacturer, and acknowledged an order that had been placed by my great-grandfather, Ulysses Parmiter.
Continuing to look through the papers, I found another piece of correspondence from the manufacturer confirming the shipment of the cob and feed mill. There was also a receipt for $20, and a bill of lading from the Pennsylvania Railroad indicating that the machine was shipped from New Holland, Pennsylvania to Malta, Ohio on November 23, 1901. And finally, there was instruction sheet explaining how to operate and maintain the mill.
Recently I decided to assemble all these items in one place in hopes of preserving them. It was then that I finally connected the dots. All the correspondence was from Abram M. Zimmerman, and the letterhead was from the "New Holland Machine Works." New Holland Machine Works would later become "New Holland," which was purchased by the Sperry Corporation in the 1940s, and would continue to manufacture agricultural and construction equipment into the 21st Century as "Sperry New Holland."
The New Holland Machine Works was founded and operated by Abram Zimmerman. Zimmerman, the son of a conservative Mennonite family, was described as a mechanical genius who began his career by making improvements in the blacksmith shop where he worked. The cob and feed mill is engraved on the envelopes, the letterhead and the receipts that were issued by the New Holland Machine Works, suggesting that it was the primary product being sold in 1901.
So it appears that in November, 1901 my great-grandfather, Ulysses, ordered a "Cob and Feed Mill" from the New Holland Machine Works. On November 18, Abram Zimmerman wrote to Ulysses acknowledging the order. On November 23rd, Zimmerman again wrote to Ulysses saying the mill had been shipped. The bill of lading from the Pennsylvania Railroad confirmed that the cob and feed mill had been shipped to Malta.
A receipt for $19 signed by Zimmerman was also in the correspondence. The cost of the mill was $19, with $1 for an extra set of plates, which Ulysses had pre-paid. The mill could be operated by power supplied by a stationary "hit and miss" engine or some other means of rotary propulsion.
At least one mystery in our old barn is solved. Now if I could just figure out the rest of them.