THRESHING NORTH OF CEDAR FALLS, IOWA 1880-85

8 hp Aultman-Taylor

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Midland, Michigan

The attached picture was given to me by my grandfather, Guy W. Thompson, who farmed and ran threshing rigs north of Cedar Falls, Iowa most of his life. The threshing outfit in the picture was owned by John Ford, my grandfather's grandfather. (John Ford is the gentleman standing on the engine). Since I am one of those fellows who deserted the farm and moved to the city, I may be a bit hazy on some of the details, however, I will list a few items of interest which I remember from discussions with my grandfather when he used to take me to steam shows at Hudson, Iowa; Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, etc.

The picture was taken between 1880-1885 in Washington Township, north of Cedar Falls, Iowa. The engine is an 8 hp Aultman-Taylor which cost $800 new and which was eventually traded in on a 12 hp Aultman-Taylor costing $1200. The belt is 125 feet long and 6 inches wide. You can see a screw jack back of the left rear wheel and there's another one in front of the right rear wheel. This was to keep the engine from working counter-clock wise from the pull of the belt and hammer of the piston. The separator is apparently hand-fed and there is no blower - looks like the straw goes up a conveyor to be mowed away by hand.

Unfortunately, I didn't copy down the thousand and one other details my grandfather gave me from time to time, so I will have to finish up my story by listing a number of philosophical observations gleaned from a careful study of the picture:

1.   A total of 29 men, women and children are visible and its a safe bet that everyone had plenty of work to do. As we city folks understand, nowadays only two people would be involved - while pa is running the combine, ma is in the house heating up T.V. dinners!

2.   There are no fat people in the picture. Everyone worked long, hard hours, ate heartily, and usually lived to a ripe old age. We could learn a lot from the old timers in this regard.

3.   You can study the picture and not see a single T.V. antenna, electric line, telephone pole, wire fence, or rubber tire. There's also a refreshing absence of tax collectors and various other government agents.

I hope this picture will be of interest to some of the other album readers. I'm only sorry I couldn't list more facts and details.