Wheat Centennial Celebration

A trial run prior to the celebration

A trial run prior to the celebration, to check power as well as any bugs in machine that needed attention.

Ben Boese

Content Tools

Moundridge, Kansas 67107

The wheat centennial year is fast coming to an end. It has been an eventful year with a number of centennial activities in the area. This report will be focused on two activities the Goessel Centennial celebration August 16 and 17 and the participation in the 'Country Days' festivities in the spacious Crown Center in Kansas City.

The ancestors of the Goessel community people were among those Mennonite immigrants from South Russia in 1874 who brought small amounts of Turkey Red hard winter wheat to Kansas. It is this variety and its derivatives that have made Kansas to become known as the 'Bread Basket' of the world.

The Wheat Heritage Engine and Threshing (spells wheat) Company, consisting of 60 members from a radius of 50 miles, offered to perform the threshing operations. In addition they put on a very fine small engine demonstration. Threshing was scheduled for Friday and Saturday afternoon. An attempt was made to portray in proper sequence the development of threshing as experienced by our forefathers during the past 100 years. All demonstrations were narrated.

Although the flail was not used very extensively during this period of time, it was demonstrated to show the long and tedious way of threshing prior to later developments. The threshing stone was next in order. This had been their chief means of threshing in Russia and they evidently planned to proceed in this manner when they had a hundred stones cut. American technology was, however, so much farther advanced that the stones were soon discarded and more up-to-date methods adopted. For many, this was the first time to witness this sort of operation and was very much appreciated.

The threshing practice which was soon adopted was done with small machines activated with horsepower, either sweep method or treadmill. A Champion thresher, pat. 1887, had been purchased from Marlin Crownover, Schelocta, Pa. several years ago. The demonstration illustrated the concept but the actual threshing was not too successful because of improper gear ratios. The horsepower had been purchased from Lewis Sargent, Jewell, Iowa and was designed to run a corn elevator, but was too slow for threshing. Hopefully this can be corrected for the 1975 show.

A larger machine, also a Champion, but built in Orville, Ohio was purchased from the Burgh Equipment Company in Zillianople, Pa. (It was stored in Carrollton, Ohio) This operation worked like a charm. Power was provided with a 12 h.p. one cylinder IHC gasoline engine, owned by Jerry Toews, a local music teacher. This unique engine combined with a machine (1894 to 1910) with wooden truck wheels, hand feed and a web stacker probably attracted the most attention. Both are very rare in this part of the country.

The final demonstration was with a more modern thresher. It was a Case machine and powered with a Case steam engine and alternated with an Aultman Taylor engine. More wheat was threshed with this outfit, but it was the huge engines that attracted the attention. John Younkman, postmaster at North Newton, Kansas, is the owner of both engines. Everything was running along very nicely when a big rain storm brought everything to an abrupt halt.

The local Young Farmers had obligated themselves to see that enough Turkey Red and Centurk (Century of Turkey) wheat had been seeded, harvested and stacked to make this threshing possible. This was really appreciated.

The whole threshing activity would not be complete without serving lunch (faspa in German) at 4 o'clock. At this time, all activity ceased for 15 minutes to partake of zwieback, cheese, sugar cubes and coffee. Formerly the women would ride to the field in lumber wagons to deliver the faspa to the threshing crew at the machine, usually on the east side of the engine.

Threshing was, however, not the only activity during the three day celebration. On Saturday, a mile long parade was witnessed by the largest number of people ever to congregate in this little town of 600 population. The dedication of the complex took place at two o'clock on Saturday. Dr. John Schmidt, a native of Buhler, Kansas and now an agronomist at the University of Nebraska was the featured speaker. Dr. Schmidt is constantly working with the development of new varieties of wheat. Sunday was set aside for church related activities.

Overtures to participate with a threshing demonstration at Crown center in Kansas City had been made a year ago. It was, however, a real thrill to get the actual invitation to participate. Crown Center is located diagonally from Union Station. It is a Hallmark Card Company development project.

'Country Days' was the theme chosen for the week long festivities timed to coincide with the American Royal. The distance of 190 miles limited the number of machines to take along. It was decided to take the larger Champion thresher and the 12 h.p. gasoline engine and supplement it with an array of small engines, grinders, pumps, wood sawing machinery and, of course, wheat bundles. Most all of the equipment was hauled in two trucks and trailers. Ed Reimer, a local farmer and auctioneer furnished a farm truck. The other truck and trailer was supplied by Hillsboro Industries, builders of trailers. The weather was ideal for the occasion, especially this late in the year. Everybody enjoyed a wonderful weekend in Kansas City.

The historical complex at Goessel consists of three buildings an old school house converted to an eating place, a replica of an 'Immigrant House', two of which were built by the Santa Fe Railroad in the Goessel area in 1874. They served as living quarters for a number of years. A third building is an agriculture building, the Turkey Red Wheat Palace. Those artifacts related to farming as well as wheat and wheat products are displayed in this building. Artifacts related to the home, church and school are featured in the 'Immigrant House'.

The guest book shows a list of 2600 people who have visited the complex since opening date in August. It has been open every afternoon but will close for a few months on January 1. An attempt will be made to have it open every Sunday afternoon, however. Reservations for special tours may be made by calling 316-367-2233 or the complex number 367-8200.

At this time no definite date has been set for the 1975 threshing show. Plans are currently underway for this event, Watch Iron Man Album for further notices.

The United States is the world's largest exporter of farm products. Our nation accounts for about 20% of world agricultural trade.

One out of every four U.S. harvested acres produces food or fiber for export.

The highest number of farms in the United States was recorded in 1935-6.8 million.

It takes about five million workers to assemble, process and distribute the nation's farm-food products.