Beginning with the blacksmith shop of German immigrant Meinrad Rumely (1823-1904), this successive family of firms invented and produced a line of agricultural equipment that played a vital role in the evolution of farming based on the muscle of humans and animals to one based on the power of the steam and ultimately the internal-combustion engine. The M. & J. Rumely Co. became the M. Rumely Co., and then the Advance Rumely Co. The Allis-Chalmers Company acquired the business in 1931.
The Fresno scraper established the basis for the modern earthmoving scraper, being able to scrape and move a load of soil, then discharge it at a controlled depth. It quadrupled the productivity of manual labor, replacing hand shoveling of earth into horse carts.
These engines, built by Cooper & Co., of Mount Vernon are among the oldest surviving agricultural steam engines to show the evolution from the portable, skid-mounted engine (ca. 1860) to the horse-drawn engine (1875), through the self-propelled but horse-guided engine (1875) and finally to the self-propelled, self-steered traction engine (1883). Such engines powered the conversion to mechanized farming, which was a great hallmark of the Industrial Revolution.