1974 The Wheat Centennial Year

| January/February 1974

  • The early Mennonite settlers
    The threshing stone as it was used by the early Mennonite settlers with the Alexander whole Mennonite Church in the background. It is rather unique that the first ''Church Book'' dating back to the early 1700s is still in the possession of the local churc
    Ben Boese
  • Kansas Historical marker
    This Kansas Historical marker is placed right beside the thresher stone along Kansas Highway 15, forty miles North of Wichita. Courtesy of Ben Boese, Moundridge, Kansas 67107
    Ben Boese

  • The early Mennonite settlers
  • Kansas Historical marker

Mound ridge, Kansas 67107

I became acquainted with the Iron-Men Album a year ago. Although I don't have the time to read all the articles, I get a lot of enjoyment just looking at the pictures. They bring back some pleasant memories of the few years that I participated in this annual event. June 1938 was a wet month and farmers did not get their wheat cut with the binders. When the field finally did dry out it was more economical to have the grain combined. The 'ice' was now broken and threshing in the Goessel, Kansas area was a thing of the past.

Our local 'company' was composed of nine farmers, mostly relatives and neighbors. Another neighbor, C. R. Voth, who made threshing his business, was engaged to do the threshing. His four rigs were mostly Minneapolis separators and powered with the BIG Rumely engines. The crew consisted of the separator tender, the engineer and four field pitchers. The bundles were hauled with six teams. Three more teams were used to haul the grain to the farm storage and scooped (yes, by hand) into the granary.

Mr. Voth was very generous with his weights per bushel. The machine was set for 70 pound bushels and farmers paid him on this basis. This was appreciated of course, but it did cause some confusion, especially when the government commenced to pay subsidies. Farmers who had reported their average yields on the 70 pound basis received less government payment.

I have made the observation that most of the articles written in Iron-Men Album about wheat threshing concentrate on steam power. I just faintly remember the steam engines and certainly do not want to belittle them, but I would like to back track nearly a hundred years, to the year 1874.

This was the year that my forefathers migrated from South Russia to the plains of Central Kansas and settled in an area now known as Goessel. They brought with them small amounts of seed wheat, a hard winter wheat variety commonly known as Red Turkey. It was this variety that eventually made Kansas known as the 'Bread Basket of the World.' Among other Mennonite groups credited with bringing this seed, the Alexander whole (Church) group was by far the largest. It is estimated that each of the 100 families brought approximately 20 pounds of seed.


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