HISTORY OF Weaver Fodder Shredder

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3001 Lititz Pike, Lancaster, PA 17601

Jacob C. Weaver born 1852, was a machinist of top quality. At the age of sixteen years he entered the well known machine shop of Valentine Andes at Mechanicsburg (now Leola) Pennsylvania as an apprentice. Jacob C. Weaver was my maternal grandfather, and many times in my youth I heard him describe his apprenticeship at the Andes Shop.

He described the shop as being the shape of a horse shoe, where the young apprentice started at the one end of the 'shoe' and four years later he came out the other end as a qualified mechanic. He was then a blacksmith, machinist, patternmaker, cabinetmaker, wheelwright, cylinder builder, and anything else which pertained to a first class machine shop in those days.

In 1876 he married Hattie A. Weaver (no relation) and they went to the Centennial at Philadelphia on their honeymoon.

Upon their return they settled south of Strasburg, PA, where he was employed at the Valley Spring Machine Shop and Foundry at Bunker Hill. The shop and foundry were powered by a water wheel on Little Beaver Creek and were operated by another Jacob Weaver (no relation) who was a brother-in-law of the Captains Jefferson and Aldus Neff, both killed in the Civil War.

After Grandfather Jake spent several years here at the Valley Spring shop, he moved one mile East near the White Oak Community and built a three story shop. It was powered by a Geiser steam engine, which was later discarded for an 8 H.P. Springfield gasoline engine. Here he built the Weaver Thresher and did all kinds of machine and repair work.

(I wrote the history of the Weaver Thresher about fifteen years ago which was published in IMA.)

In this area it was popular for the farmers to shred their corn fodder, and put it in their barn, but there was no proper machine to do the shredding. Some farmers used the cylinder and frame of an old thresher, but this was too cumbersome to do the job.

Jacob C. Weaver decided to build a fodder shredder. At the request of Enos Eshleman a local farmer, the first one was built in 1907. It consisted of a wood frame with feed table, a spike cylinder with two feed rolls, one smooth roll on the bottom and a crimp roll on the top which moved up and down to accommodate the size of the fodder bundle as it was pulled into the cylinder. This became a very popular machine which was built in three sizes to accommodate the size engine it would be belted to. The width of the feed rolls and cylinder also determined the machine size which was manufactured in 12', 18' and 24' rolls, the latter had large capacity. The last fodder shredder was built in 1923 as Jacob suffered a stroke and closed the shop. The machinery was auctioned. Jacob C. Weaver died in 1938. The shop was razed in 1986.

Harry K. Smith of Strasburg bought the patterns and rights and built several machines, but the end of the fodder shredder was at hand, as the silo and forage harvester moved in and changed the method of Agriculture.