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814-UncMtw Farming, Saturday, August 27, 1994
Thom Wheary Family Turns Iron Seat Collection
Into Museum Of Learning
Co.) “Welcome to the agricul
tural museum of Lancaster County.
I think you will see things you for
got your grandfather did.”
For Thom Wheary, Jr., turning
400 old iron farm equipment seats
into a museum enterprise is just a
matter of sharing what he has
teamed over the years. In the pro
cess of rejuvenating old horse
drawn equipment for the Amish
farmers, Wheary found “older stuff
that has character,” and started
buying it before anyone else had an
interest. Unlike collectors who pay
high prices for scarce pieces, Whe
ary found his collection while buy
ing and selling farm equipment at
local farm auctions over the years.
In the 1800 s, farm equipment
manufacturers in the U.S. cast their
company names in the iron seat
that adorned each implement.
Since Wheary is a history major, he
knew that when the Civil War
ended, foundries suddenly stopped
making war goods and immediate
ly turned to farm equipment to
keep their small businesses going.
At the time, 1,200 to 1,500 diffe
rent foundries had their trademarks
cast in iron seats.
Wheary calls his “rusty iron”
collection small in comparison to
the total that was made. But no one
has all the seats and and only a few
collections are larger.
“I like to work with my hands,”
Wheary said. “And when I got out
of college, I just naturally worked
with my dad fixing up Amish
machinery. I found older stuff that
has character and bought some
pieces and ‘rat holed’ them away.
No one was interested at the time.
But I was, and I learned a lot of his
tory in the process.”
The new museum is located
along Route 30 west of Paradise
behind the former Dutch Haven.
“I have several goals,” Wheary
said. ‘‘My children are getting to
the age they are looking for sum-
4-H Center Open House
In Northampton .
The Northampton County 4-H
Center will hold an open house
and horse school in conjunction
with the Farm/City Tour on Sun
day, October 2, 1994. The 4-H
Center, located 2.2 miles south of
Rt. 512 and 4 miles north of Na
zareth on Bushldll Center Rd..
will be open from 12 p.ra. (Noon)
to 4 p.m. during the open house.
The horse show will start at 10
During the day, people from the
community are invited to view the
club displays, completed 4-H pro
jects, and various informative dis
plays in the display building.
There will also be a wide variety
of 4-H animals present for a pet
ting zoo and informative demon
The 4-H Center Boad will be
making their famous BBQ chick
en for the public to purchase. This
will be offered from 12 p.m.
(Noon) till 4 p.m., or until the
chicken is completely sold. So,
come early. If you can’t come ear
ly, call the 4-H Center, (610)
759-9859, during the day to re
serve your portions.
An Open Youth School Horse
mer jobs. Maybe as a family we
can do things together around the
museum. The learning experience
for them is borrowed from the farm
family who keeps their children
employed while teaching them
integrity. Maybe we can do this
“In addition, I would like to edu
cate tourists about the farm. At
field work time the farmers around
here do not have time to answer the
questions visitors have about what
they are doing."
In addition to the iron seats, the
museum has real tobacco hanging
in a curing-type setting and an
extensive display of the 1800 s farm
kitchen. The museum has an
emphasis on the farm wife.
“I want the museum to tell a
story,” Wheary said. “Many of the
things I have collected relate to the
early home. The farm wife was the
first to recycle things. She used
feed bags to make clothes and cur
tains. She had the first day-cate
center to care for her own children.
Rounding up the dog for the dog
tread to power the wooden washing
machine while running after the
children was all in a day’s work.”
The old cook stove, sink,
wooden ironing board, and irons
are only a few of the things you will
see in this kitchen.
To augment the museum, Whe
ary has opened a farm toy business
in the front shop area. Here he
offers to buy, sell, or trade. There
are farm toy auctions, but this is
designed to be an on-going outlet
for merchandising farm toys.
Wheary also has the rights to
manufacture the famous New Hol
land bale elevator which he does at
2971 Lincoln Highway East, Gor
donville, PA 17529.
“I enjoy the learning process
myself,” Wheary said. “I want to
share what I have learned with the
uninformed. The old-timers die
off, and the intelligence they knew
dies with them. I’d like to preserve
what they knew for future
Show will be included in the
events this year. This will start at
10 a.m. and is open to any youth
between the ages of 8 and 19
years. Various types of classes
will be offered, including Walk-
Trot, Walk-Trot-Canter, and
Jumping. For information con
cerning this horse show, call (610)
The 4-H program in Northamp
ton County is open to all youths
between the ages of 8 and 19
years. Projects include almost
everything you might want, plus
opportunities to leant leadership
skills and interact with youths
from around the county, region,
state, nation, and world. If you
would like more information con
cerning the 4-H program, please
call the Northampton County 4-H
Offices, Monday through Friday,
8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., at (610)
The 4-H program is “Youth do
ing all the right things.” Won’t
you come join us? Sunday, Octo
ber 2, Noon to 4 p.m.
If there are any questions,
please call the above number of
Janice Martin, (610) 837-7294.
Beth Ann Wheary poses In the 19th century kitchen that Is part of the Lancaster
County Farm Museum.
Thom Wheary, Jr., with part of his 400 place collection of farm equipment seats.
Each seat has the name or trademark of the foundry that made the equipment.
The Wheaiyfamily posed on an old horse-drawn road grader used by farmers
around 1850 to maintain the roads on a volunteer basis. From left, Thom, Beth Ann,
Jason, and Megan. Not present for the photo Is Thom’s sister Jeanette Grisslnger who
has been very much a part of getting the new business started.