Tooling Around Jay County Indiana

Jay County

Keith and I went to Jay County for the Tri-State Gas, Engine & Tractor Association Inc. show and saw so much more!  Connecting with Gyneth Ausburger Director of the Jay County Visitor & Tourism Bureau, she cooked up lots of fun plans.

Before heading to Portland, we stopped at the Swiss Heritage Village in Berne, IN, but that is a story in itself! After our stop at this amazing place, we headed down the road to the Galley restaurant for a bit of seafood.  Then we tooled south to Portland and started our Jay County adventure with a little flea market shopping.

During the weekend of the Annual Antique Gas Engine & Tractor show flea markets and garage sales pop up all over town.  Keith stopped at a few. At one, he found some bolts.  We had fun watching the bi-plane buzz that was offering ride.  This is the same plane we went for a ride in a couple years ago when we came to town.

All over, Portland golf carts darted up and down the streets.  People were everywhere searching for that treasure they needed to add, that missing piece to take back home.

The Ferris House

Jay County
The beautiful Ferris House.

Our home away from home during our stay is the beautiful  soon to open Ferris House.  Pat and Brad Daniels own this beautiful Queen Anne where Pat raised her three children.  Today she wants to open it as a B&B.  Although not officially opened yet, we and another couple (John & Julie) got the wonderful opportunity to stay as their first visitors!

Jay County
Brad & Pat Daniels own the Ferris House B & B. We along with another couple were the first visitors!

What a win for us!  The house is three stories with the 3rd story, a former ballroom, now a game room where guests can play pool or just hang out.  Built in the late 1890’s, the first owner was a financier (named Ferris) who was only able to live in the home for a few years before passing.  He owned one of the cool Haynes automobiles built by Portland native Elwood Haynes.  Pat has a picture of one of these beauties parked out front of the house. Elwood Haynes was a metallurgist, inventor, and automotive pioneer who was born in Portland.  In fact, we used the mural with his picture on it as a landmark to find our way to Ferris House!

Our room was lovely, and the whole house is just beautiful, filled with antiques which makes sense because Brad and Pat also own the Jay County Antique Mall!

While I loved the entire house, my very favorite spot was the back porch.  There is a wicker swing where Keith and I sat for half an hour Thursday evening enjoying the balmy weather.

Jay Ciounty
The porches are great sitting places!

In the morning, Pat and Brad delighted us with a wonderful breakfast both Friday and Saturday. Friday we had sausage biscuits and gravy and fresh fruit.  Saturday, we ate like kings again with pancakes, sausage, scrambled eggs and fruit.  But best of all was the amazing companionship that Pat and Brad have to offer.  Keith said it best, “They just made me feel at home.”

We left with a plan to come back again and again to this beautiful place that Gyneth found and arranged for us. Thank you Gyneth! Call 260-726-5133 for reservations!

The Gas Engine and Tractor Show

Friday morning after lollygagging and eating our fill of Pat and Brad’s wonderful breakfast, we headed out to the nearby Jay County Fairgrounds.  We easily unloaded our golf cart and started looking around the grounds.  I met up with Gyneth about ten thirty.  Keith took off for the soggy fields where parts vendors were set up.

Allis Chalmers was the brand of the show and we headed for the AC tent.  There I learned a lot of fun facts.  The most interesting story to me was of the Allis Chalmers U and rubber tires. Hoss Nethers, a collector from Newark, Ohio said, “The Allis Chalmers U was the first tractor that had rubber tires in North America in 1930. Famous race car driver Barney Oldfield took it to the Indiana State Fair. He raced and demonstrated a land speed record of 64 miles per hour on September 17, 1933.”

Jay County
Hoss posed with me in the AC tent after telling me about the U, the rubber tires!

Allis Chalmers purpose was to get skeptical farmers to switch to rubber tires. Hoss said, “At the race track they demonstrated that rubber was faster.”

Around the AC tent was an unusual 1949 Model G.  This was my favorite tractor of the show.  They took this model G that came from the LaPorte Indiana Allis-Chalmers factory and the engineers at the factory converted it by removing the pipe frame and running the steering shaft straight down and under the small bed. It was then used in the experimental department.

Another cool tractor was a 1968 I-400 AC owned by Harry Dubach. “This was made in Milwaukee then sold to Geneva to go to a golf course,” Harry said.

Gyneth scored us a ride with Association President Chris Englehardt.  He pointed out some of the highlights of the show and directed us to Jim Stammen who brought 30 AC tractors to the show!

Vielor has been touring around the US and this Australian was enjoying the show.

The Stammen family had a book put together by daughter-in-law Michelle Stammen that shared yearlong activities like fun with Persian Orange AC’s! One of Jim’s tractors, a 1964 D19, was the first turbo built in North America, and  was recently featured in Diesel World Magazine. “

Mark and Monica Hacker took a minute to show us their very cool 1981 AC 7060 tractor. This tractor was at the Patterson & Sons Inc. Dealership in St. Johns, Michigan. The 7060 had been purchased by the owner of the dealership and never has seen field duty. “It has only been paraded,” Mark Hacker added. “It only has 68.3 hours on it.”

This was the 53rd Annual show for what the Tri-State Association refers to as “Home of the World’s Largest Engine and Tractor Show!” While there, I saw some very cool collectibles like a cardboard cutout, of Miss De Laval used to advertise cream separators.  I spied a former dealership Wheel Horse neon sign sitting in front of a tent full of the little garden tractors.  The Wheel Horse  emblem was comprised of a horse head and tire and was very cool!

In front of the tent where Gyneth’s husband had his garden tractor one collector, and inventive genius created a miniature waterloo boy. Gynteh was game to pose for me on her husband’s neat Cub Cadet.  We got the other gentlemen to pose as well .  During the day we had fun tooling around looking at the oil engines and talked with Russell Farmer of Eaton, Ohio.  Russell had his 1923 Fairbanks Morse Oil Engine at the show. This huge engine was interesting. “We think it ran a machine shop in Marion, Ohio,” Russell said of the mammoth machine.

People from all walks of life and all over come to what local antique mall owner Pat Daniels calls the Ninja Tractor show. Vielor Haeasler from Western Australia has been traveling through the US and Canada.  He joined up with an Australian tour group to see the show. Vielor owns about 35 tractors of all makes and model. “This has been a highlight as well as a trip to Ohio where we saw 200 engines,” Vielor said.

Retired from farming in Australia, where he grew wheat, barley and lupines, Vielor also raised sheep for wool and meat. “I also do Australian poetry too,” he said. We were lucky enough to get him to recite a few words for us.

“The copper flashed his radar at the old small moving ute (pickup)
With a sign allowed 40 K’s did not compute
For it seemed the driver wasn’t speeding up or slowing down
for resulting a traffic hazard on his journey into town.

Art’s Place and the Quilt Show

Chris gave us a ride up town to Art’s Place, a wonderful facility in downtown Portland that features Performing Arts, Music and Creative works.  During the  Antique Gas Engine & Tractor Show an Annual Quilt Show is sponsored by the Stitch & Chatter Quilt Club and Gyneth wanted to be sure I got a chance to see these beautiful quilt displays and demonstrations.  We had great fun winding our way on a golf cart through town and once we arrived, we scored a ride for the way back with an AC fan that had taken his wife up to see the show as well!

Patriotic quilt has such a story.

Inside I was blown away by the quilt and story of the patriotic quilt that Chris Meinerding quietly and anonymously made for Dixie Timmerman, the mother of an active Marine, Kyle Timmerman.  When she learned that Kyle was in harms way, Dixie relayed this story to her friend on the phone.  Her friend’s sister, Chris Meinerding, overheard the conversation and went home and made this quilt to let Dixie and all Military families know that others do care.  She then quietly left the quilt on Dixie’s porch with no name and it was weeks before Dixie found out who made it.  Thankfully, Kyle was safe, and the young marine is still serving his country in the Marine’s. God bless everyone involved in this wonderful story of patriotism and love!

Quilts were on display and they were lovely and touching.  AC lovers were included with a cool AC quilt. I felt a bit homesick when I saw a lovely organ that had been donated by a Quincy, Illinois family.  Jay County is lucky to have Arts Place.  Art’s was hopping with, well art, and lots of it!


The Jay County Courthouse

At the end of the day, Keith and I gave Gyneth a ride uptown to her car and she said, “You need to walk through the Jay County Courthouse.”

Jay County
The beautiful Jay County Court house!

While the building looked nice from the outside, I was not even close to being prepared for what we saw inside. This was the biggest surprise of our Jay County trip!  Construction started in 1915 and was completed in 1919.  The square courthouse which is quite unassuming from the outside has four entrances with brass doors.  Once inside though, there is a stained glass skylight in the dome that is AMAZING!  Marble is throughout the courthouse.  Then there are four historic paintings in the courthouse dome.

Jay County
Gyneth (r) and I enjoyed the day.  We ended it at the courthouse before dining in Redkey!


Gyneth also took us into the courtroom which was empty and oh my, it was also quite lovely, as well.  If in Portland, which by the way is the County Seat, be sure to stop, it is stunning!

Redkey need I say more? 

Redkey was a sleeper for us.  Gyneth and her husband Les picked us up for dinner saying we were dining at the Key Palace and having dessert at the Lil Bistro.  Redkey is a small town just down the road from Portland and the locals are bringing it back to life.

The Key Palace  offers a variety of Blues Music in this Historic Vintage Theatre that has been providing Blues music for over 30 years.  The entertainment will rev up at the end of September. While we were there, food was the big feature and Keith and Les had the porkchop special with coleslaw. The porkchop melted in your mouth.  Gyneth and I both had the fish and chips only rather than chips, we both opted for onion rings.  We should have split our dinner like we split the taco salad at lunch.  Great food in a fun setting with pictures of blues legends made for a fun meal.

Gyneth took me on a quick tour of the theatre before we headed to the Lil Bistro where we all had a dessert.  They had cheese cake, but I ordered what they called peanutbutter lasagna.  Ohhhh, it was so yummy.  I don’t often have dessert, but this was worth the extra calories!  The Lil Bistro is a former bank converted into a restaurant.  Where the vault once was is a pizza oven. The dessert was wonderful and I am told meals are just as wonderful. The décor was quite lovely.

The LiL Bistro only serves serve dinner.  We had lunch on Saturday at the Key Palace again and they are also open for breakfast as well.

The next day on our way out of town, we wanted to stop and antique.  We had already spent Saturday morning (thankfully loaded up the golf cart because it was raining) in the antique mall, then headed to Redkey to check out the shops we missed the night before.  The town is going through a revitalization, but many of the businesses are open on weekends only.

Our first stop was at the Redkey Junction owned by Mark Leavell.  Mark said at the store they once made Williamson Wagons.  Oak Leaf Antiques Owned by Russell Hanners & Robert Judd was a very cool shop full of antiques.

We also stopped at Jeff Miller’s Corner Store Antiques where he had fun mid-century and beyond. I saw a fondue pot and that was a true blast from the past.

Nancy Whiteseer of Everything’s Coming Up Roses shop grew up in Redkey and after losing her husband came back home. She said they are trying what they can to bring life to the downtown.  Dynamite’s Antiques &Vintage was the last antique shop we stopped at.  Owned by Kathy &Daniel Crow, this fun place had jewelry, antiques  and even some neat salesman sample Fiesta ware!  There were other shops, but we needed to get on the road so…..

After lunch, our last Redkey stop was coffee for Keith and tea for me at the lovely Blind Tiger Coffee House. This former hotel was just what we needed to finish out our Redkey fix.  We loved the ambiance and especially the mural in the coffeehouse.  We learned that the owner of the coffeehouse also offers ghost tours on Saturday nights so you never know just what you may find in this little town.


Jay County Mall & Village Shoppes and Event Center

Pat and Brad Daniels own the mall. Brad gave us a deluxe tour of this 35,000 (yes I did say 35,000) square foot building.  The building began as a wooden wheel plant, then was expanded into a garment manufacturer.  The Daniels have found all kinds of uses for this great space.  With over 90 vendors, they have filled the mall with an amazing array of antiques.  They also took the space where the cutter machine was and have created an event center.  Since day one almost they have had events and the space is full every weekend.

The Saturday we were there, a Class Reunion was going to take place and there had been a wedding the weekend before.  Pat and Brad had painted all of the wooden columns and hung chandeliers throughout the space.  There is room for food and dancing, it is perfect.

Brad and his sister own Judan Judo Club and they even found space for this in the former factory.  Brad and his sister travel all over the world with their students and bring wonderful athletic and cultural opportunities to Jay County!


There is a space where the former office area was that they hope to fill eventually.  The Daniels have big plans and the mall was a shopping highlight for Keith and I!

Jay County is a happening place.  We barely scratched the surface of all the things to see and do.  Gyneth and I are discussing a visit for the Fiber Festival in March.  Then there is a glass museum, a couple cabins and some historic museums I haven’t been to yet so I may have to retrace my steps, we will see!