'Uncle Tom' Stacker

Uncle Tom Stacker

This picture was sent to us by Mr. H. Groner, Berger, Missouri, in 1952. The information has become separated from the picture, however, it illustrates the 'Uncle Tom' Stacker used by the Harrison Machine Co., Belleville, Illinois, as used on th

Mr. H. Groner

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NEWBURG FARM, Pittsfield, Illinois

Your articles and notes about the wind stacker are very interesting, but I challenge some of the so-called facts as stated. First, James Buchanan did not invent the first practical wind stacker that we know as 'Uncle Tom's Farmers' Friend'. To cut a long story short, Mr. Thomas Kirshman of Cooper County, Missouri, invented this stacker before Mr. James Buchanan patented his type of stacker which was not and could not be practical. It was thought by many that the straw should not come into contact with the fan but Mr. Kirshman proved that with the proper size and speed it would not grind the straw. He did quite a lot of experimenting at the Belleville Factory of the Harrison Machine Works and put several of his stackers on the Belleville threshers in the year 1890. It, to me, seems odd that no radical change was ever made in this stacker right up to the last.

Mr. Kirshman was known to everyone by 'Uncle Tom'. My father, his brothers and their cousins knew him well. I began to visit the Belleville Factory as a very young boy but have no recollection of 'Uncle Tom'. My father's cousin, Nort Foreman, got one of these stackers in 1891 on his Belleville Thresher (thresher was used more to designate a separator then than later) which he used for years. All we boys would throw our straw hats into the blower at the end of a threshing job they never were hurt.

By 1892 and 1893 the Belleville Company had quite a few of 'Uncle Tom' stackers out all over this section.

It was said that 'Uncle Tom' was the butt of all the jokers around the plant, but was greatly loved by all. After a few of these stackers were built, some of the workers got a painter whose name I have forgotten and who was handy with a brush (being a stripper) to paint a cartoon or perhaps more correctly a caricature, of 'Uncle Tom' simply as a joke. This picture was taken over and refined by the Indiana Company and became very famous as everyone knows.

Pictured in 1914 is a rig owned and operated by my father, John N. Johnson and my uncle, Theo. Knutson. This machine was used for shock and stack threshing around Dane, Wisconsin. The engine was an 18 hp Nichols and Shepard. The Separator was of the Red River Special line with a 36' cylinder and swinging stacker. I believe it was optional at the time they bought the machine to take it with stacker or blower. It seems that most farmers preferred the stacker. I was just old enough to run the injector on the old engine when it was sold.

The 'Uncle Tom' patent was taken over in 1895. This and the other patents taken over by Mr. McKain proves to me that it was necessary for his Company to have the various patents to hold his monopoly, which as a matter of fact became the tightest little monopoly known at that time and was about the first company to be eyed as a restraint of trade. It should be noticed who were several of the directors of the company!

It must not be forgotten that 'Uncle Tom's' Farmers Friend Stacker was first put out by the Harrison Machine Works of Belleville, Illinois.

I did have much of the Harrison's old records but disposed of all of it except many of the old catalogs from 1881 to their last but have given most of it away. What I did not get Director Art. Peters took out into the lot and burned. My father's family had Belleville machinery in the family since 1881 right up to and including now.

A two column write-up appeared in the October 1905 Thresherman's Review about 'Uncle Tom' who passed away August 23, 1905.

I should add that when the Harrisons disposed of their wind stacker patents to the Indiana Company they retained the privilege of marketing their stacker on their own machines without paying royalty. It was said that one had to be careful about mentioning the Indiana Company to or before Mr. William C. Buchanan, a President and Director of the Harrisons. He passed away in 1909.

I hope and expect to get out another issue of the KISER'S NATIONAL THRESHERMAN before long, at which time I shall go into more of this discussion fully.

I am enclosing a picture copy of the write-up on 'Uncle Tom' from the Review. (Because of space the Review write-up will appear later, very likely the next issue. -Elmer)