Past Steam Engines and Corn Shocking Memories

Letters to the Editor about surprising uses for steam engine water in the 1920s, a mystery estate sale find, and memories of shocking corn.

article image
courtesy of George A. Reed

They did things differently in the past

In this picture, my granddad (John Wolf) is threshing corn fodder in the early 1920s with a steam engine. He is the one standing between the steam engine and the tender.

At that time, my granddad was one of two men in Miami County (near Louisburg, Kansas) on Kansas’ east border who owned steam engines. Granddad also owned a reaper and a clover huller that he used in custom threshing. The clover huller was in the size range of a threshing machine.

I remember my mother telling me, after coming in from a day of threshing, my grandfather drained off steam water to use for dressing a chicken. Needless to say, feeding a family of 10 was a big chore in the 1920s. Interesting, to say the least, how we live and do things today.

George A. Reed, Louisburg, Kansas

Tracing the American/Superior lineage

Endcap of a weathered Superior grain drill

This is an end cap from a Superior grain drill. Does anyone know when Oliver bought out Superior and American Seeding Co., Springfield, Ohio? I’m missing an acre meter.

Wayne Cooper, 388 Pine Run Rd., Fombell, PA 16123; (724) 452-7523

Editor’s note: According to C.H. Wendel in Encyclopedia of American Farm Implements & Antiques, a 1903 merger of seven companies – including Superior Drill Co., Springfield, Ohio – formed American Seeding Machine Co. Oliver Farm Equipment Co. was formed by a 1929 merger of four companies: American Seeding Machine Co., Oliver Chilled Plow Works, Hart-Parr Tractor Co. and Nichols & Shepard Co.

Those who know will know

I found the article by Don McKinley (Farm Collector, April 2022) very interesting and somewhat rare. I don’t know when I read an article on hedge but it has been many years ago. I too was raised in southwest Iowa, near Henderson.

Although I didn’t harvest hedge, I did observe several fences being built with hedge posts and helped a farmer build a fence with the same near Silver City. The posts were used, so who knows how old they were. As such they were dense as iron. For every three or four staples you attempted to drive without success, you were able to get one badly mauled one partially in the wood, barely enough to hold the barbed wire.

I don’t remember if I actually observed it but was certainly told by my dad that many green posts used in fence building, even after drying for a year, would sprout and grow. My grandfather had almost exclusively hedge post fences. Grandma kept hedge balls in her dresser drawers.

Following my experience with building fence with hedge posts, I adopted the following to describe those whom are a bit stubborn or slow: “Denser than a hedge post in January!” A description not all can relate to.

Ken Bolton, Fall Creek, Wisconsin

Cheers for a young restorer

Annika Ernstrom, Elyse Evers, and Keith Miller stand beside restored tractor

Thank you all for this excellent article and photos in the March 2022 issue of Farm Collector. Bravo to all, including friend Elyse Evers and mentor Keith Miller, and congratulations to Annika! May you have many more successes, and especially, may you have fun doing so. It is so very good that people worldwide are restoring and resurrecting older, classical objects, from machinery to horse-drawn implements, works of art, dance, folk customs, etc. Thank you for sharing your adventure and triumph!

Dick Schaus, Kalispell, Montana

Bring on construction equipment articles!

Thank you so much for the great pictures and the write-up on the Big Dig. I especially like the full description of the machinery and the background of the owners. It is always good to put a face and name together. I’ll be looking forward to future articles on construction equipment.

Ken Baker, Arizona

Looking for information on early corn planter

antique early corn planter beside measuring tape

I acquired this planter at an estate sale. One side is marked L Denney’s Pennsylvania Corn Planter Patented June 3, 1856. The other side reads Nourse Maso? & Co., Boston & Worcestershire, Mass. The planter was patented in 1856, patent No. 15,035. It measures about 30 inches long. Does anyone know anything about this piece?

Phyllis Hamilton, Melbourne, Florida; email: hammy01@bellsouth.net

Restored binder summons memories of shocking

I would like to comment on the nice red corn binder in the March 2022 issue of Farm Collector. We had a Milwaukee brand. We did not have a silo. We cut our corn with a binder and shocked it. It took many bundles to be a shock. Then we had to tie a piece of twine around each one so the wind would not tear the shocks down. They stood out in the field until they were dry. Then we hauled them to the yard and ran them through a shredder that husked out the ear and the rest was shredded (chopped fine) and became cattle feed. It was very good feed.

If you had a wet fall and it froze before the shock was dry, you had to manually chop the outside bundles off of the ground. Again, I know, as in 1946, my dad had a major operation and I was in charge of feeding the cattle, as back then, we all fed all-dry feed. Was that the good old days?

Harley M. Vogel, New Ulm, Minnesota

Readers, do you recognize this equipment?

old photo of a woman riding a tractor with binder in tow

I am working on some family history. This picture was taken on a farm on Hudson Bay, Saskatchewan, many years ago. I would like to know who manufactured the binder and the tractor. Thank you for your help with our history.

Robert Davies, daviesr@myaccess.ca

  • Updated on May 12, 2022
  • Originally Published on May 11, 2022
Tagged with: letters to the editor, mystery implement, mystery tractor
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