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.
Just briefly, I would like to refer to their unique way of
threshing their grain in Russia and evidently planned to continue
this same pattern in America by means of a threshing stone as
illustrated. History records that they had a hundred stones cut,
but American methods were much farther ahead that they soon adopted
these methods and consequently did not use the threshing stones
very long. The stone was 24 inches in diameter and 30 inches long.
It had seven cogs each being three inches on the outside and seven
inches at the ‘V’ points. This stone was pulled over the
loose wheat by one horse and its rider. It would be interesting to
know how this design was derived at. Did they make experimental
models and finally arrived at this one? Or could they perchance
have given consideration to the number ‘Seven’ as being a
sacred number as referred to in the Bible -Seventy times seven,
seventy fold, etc.
The Mennonite Immigrant Historical Foundation was incorporated
as a non-profit organization nearly two years ago. Its purpose and
goal is to erect a small museum complex in memory of the migration,
as well as the introduction of the Red Turkey Wheat in 1874. This
complex will include a replica of an ‘Immigrant House’
built by the Santa Fe Railroad as temporary living quarters, and a
‘Wheat Palace’ to feature wheat farming as it existed in
the late 1800s. (Incidentally, we need a small horsepower sweep for
this exhibit). It is not too early to plan your vacation for 1974
and to attend the Wheat Centennial Celebration in Goessel, Kansas.
Goessel is located 50 miles South of Abilene, the boyhood home of
Dwight Eisenhower and 40 miles North of Wichita. This celebration
should be of National significance as efforts are currently
underway to declare 1974 at the Wheat Centennial Year.