THRESHING IN THE EARLY 1900'S

Threshing Outfit

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437 Jefferson St, Dalton, Illinois at Andover, South Dakota

Threshing in the early 1900's was a big deal. Wheat fields were large with an abundance of wheat, when the year yielded a good crop.

Ernest Fette, Sr. (my father) owned three different types of threshing rigs. The first one, purchased in 1910, was a 32 feeder, Minneapolis separator and Hart Parr engine. The second was a Buffalo Pitts separator and a Titen International engine. The third was a Case separator and a Titan, 4 cylinder, engine in 1918. The last two engines were operated by my brother, Arthur, as engineer.

Here is a picture of my father, Ernest Fette, Sr. with his threshing outfit at Andover, South Dakota, threshing wheat in 1912 with a Hart Parr engine and Minneapolis separator 32. The heavier man with the felt hat on is my father. The two boys leaning on their forks are Herbert and Ernest, Jr. Arthur Fette, separator man, is standing by the engine wheel with his 3 sons. The biggest of the two little girls at the right of the picture is me, Leona Fette, who was his cook in the cook car in 1918.

The threshing outfit consisted of about 26 men. Our machines were the medium sized outfits and used 16 bundle pitchers, 2 men to a wagon, 1 engineer, 1 separator man, 1 flunke, 1 boss, 6 grain haulers and 1 cook. They moved from farm to farm taking along all their equipment in caravan style, including the cook car which is a house about 30 ft. by 8 ft., built on wheels. A woman usually did the cooking, which was my job in the fall of 1918. Breakfast was served at 5 A.M., dinner at 12 noon and supper at 6 P.M. Good food and lots of it was served. The whistles blew at chow time and starting time.

The boss (Fette, Sr.) had to do the hiring and firing of the harvest hands which he picked up at Andover whenever replacements were needed. There were always about 30 or more men to choose from. He also had to keep the cook with a good supply of food.

In 1918 our wheat went 40 bushel per acre, a bumper crop. This crop would give us about 2000 bushel total per day to be threshed, then hauled into town by grain tanks with 4 horses to pull them. Andover had 6 large elevators where they hauled it to be stored.

Those days are gone, only the memories remain. I loved every minute of my experience with harvesting and threshing. I wish my children could have experienced some of it.