Ronnie Kitts, Blacksburg, Va., has almost no firsthand experience in threshing. “When I was about 6 or 7, they put me on a tractor hauling wheat to the thresher,” he recalls. “My feet could not reach the pedals and all I could do was steer.”
His uncle, though, made a living as a custom thresher in the 1920s. Ronnie never knew his uncle, who died before Ronnie was born. Years later, while cleaning out his father’s barn after his death, Ronnie discovered a burlap sack hanging from the rafters. In it was a treasure trove of sale receipts from oil companies, letters from dealers of Republic trucks and Caterpillar equipment — and this brochure for a McCormick-Deering thresher.
“I do not know if this is the thresher my uncle used,” Ronnie says. “I think they used belt power from a Caterpillar.” Certainly in the mid-1920s, when this all-steel unit was launched, the rig was well suited to use on mid-size farms and was popular among threshing rings. Was this brochure a tangible expression of a thresherman’s daydream? We’ll never know. In the end, the Kitts family has a special heirloom, and a bit of American agricultural history was preserved. FC
Grateful acknowledgement is given to Ronnie Kitts, Blacksburg, Va., who shared this piece with us. If you have a vintage advertisement for publication, send it to: Iron Age Ads, Farm Collector, 1503 S.W. 42nd St., Topeka, KS 66609; or submit high-quality digital images by email:firstname.lastname@example.org.