My grandfather, Alfred Bjorklund, purchased a
new 28-46 J.I. Case thresher in 1919 for $1,300. It came from the
branch house in Minneapolis. It was belt-powered by a Twin City
20-35 (which he had purchased in April 1916) with big spade
The Case was used for my grandfather’s crops until his sons,
Henry and Edmund, started a threshers’ route. They threshed for the
neighbors, a father-in-law, relatives and even the speaker of the
Minnesota House of Representatives who was a neighbor. They had as
many as 10-12 bundle teams, which were horse-drawn wagons. There
were both forenoon and afternoon lunches for the crew. The noon
dinner, prepared by the housewives, was like a banquet.
If they threshed in a hog yard, it was over a support made up of
nine posts with a yoke, to lay straight rails across in all
directions, creating a straw shed for the hogs in the winter time.
It saved the work of cleaning the hog house. They traveled the
ditches, property lines and as far away as 4-5 miles.
The Case was stored in a lumber machine shed built in 1920. When
the thresher came out of the shed, holes had to be dug for the back
wheels to go in so that the grain bagger would clear the roof eave
and not take out the rain gutter in the process.
As children, we played upstairs in the loose boards between each
section of the stringers. We’d swing down from a stringer and land
on the big tool box on top of the thresher. One time when I swung
down, the machine was out on its run. As a boy of 6 or 7, I didn’t
have the strength to pull myself back up, and thought it was too
far to drop 12 feet to the ground. I called for my brother to go to
the house and get mother. He ran to the house, yelling in Swedish,
“Come, mother, Gordon is hanging!” Mother came at a full gallop and
got hold of the ladder. She had big strong arms and moved it to me
so I could climb down.
My dad had a 1922 GMC truck. The neighbor had an REO Speedwagon
to haul the grain to the granary. The REO had a vacuum whistle
which was fun for us kids to pull. When the lower granary bins
filled, dad had us get in there to spread grain to the far corners.
We’d come out spitting pure dust.
The threshing came to an end in 1951 when we bought a
Massey-Harris pull-type combine. The dealer said the Case thresher
went up to Watertown, Minn. We always wrote inside the blower cover
the dates we threshed and the number of bushels put through.
– For more information: Contact Gordon Bjorklund at P.O. Box
192, Gaylord, MN 55334.