Letters: Remembering granddad’s threshing days

Recalling the threshing days in early New Jersey

1920s photo, Gramp is in the light overalls (second from left)

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I’ve been reading the March 2011 issue of Farm Collector and remembered a photo I have of my grandfather’s threshing crew. I’m a young 72 (born in 1938) but he lived into the 1990s and passed away at 92.

They had a dairy farm in central New Jersey (Blawenburg) west of Princeton, N.J., and milked 112 cows by hand every day. He’d talk for hours about taking the horses and the wagon out to thresh. That’s Gramp in the light-colored overalls (second from left). The photo was probably taken in the 1920s.

Grandmam said they always had at least nine people in a crew. Of course, when he was out on the road, my mother and grandmother had to keep the farm going. Gramp travelled some distance, 30 or 40 miles to thresh. Freehold, Penns Neck, Cranbury and other areas grew a lot of rye. This was used at horse farms, riding stables and race tracks. As a child, I remember the stack of grain 20 feet high. After threshing, round hoops were put on top to hold the cone shape. Gramp used mules to pull the thresher. The tractor pulled the wagon and all necessary equipment. Horses and the wagon were tied on in back.

His daughter became my mom. She just passed away at 96 years young and we would talk for hours about Gramp’s exploits. He used to speechify about how hard he’d always worked. Mom said running the farm was harder. When she was in elementary school, Gramp was the truant officer. He was getting corn in to fill the silo and made Mom drive the wagons from the field to the chopper. She was so mad at him: It was the only day of school she ever missed.

Charles E. Seyfarth II, 4480 Brights Rd., Pittsville, VA 24139