B. C. -(before the combine)
I am enclosing several harvest scenes out of the past, that may be of interest to those who not living then, or, ever having had the privilege of experiencing a wheat belt harvest, especially in the State of Kansas.
In 1901, my father and grandfather, Cortelyou and Curry, bought the Lowe and Woodson estate, comprising twelve hundred (1200) acres of wheat land in Sumner County, Kansas, just north of Caldwell.
It's well known, Kansas is the greatest wheat growing state in our nation - with a total yield up to 290,000,000 bushels per year. And, as early as 1901, Sumner County grew 10,000,000 bushels - this being before tractor harvesting methods came into vogue. Harvesting operations varied with the location. The Western half of the state the header method prevailed. In our district, both binder and header were used.
Our harvesting equipment comprised four (4) twelve (12) foot push binders, three (3) built by Wm. Deering Company, - one (1) by Hodges -known as the Craver King. The Hodges Co. was an old concern dating back to 1861, - a combination in later years
of Craver & Randolph who built headers, etc. - being known, over all as 'Hodges Acme Harvester Co.', Peoria, Illinois. We also owned two (2) headers, one Deering, and one Hodges. The time about which I am writing, was two years before International Harvester Company, a combination of a half dozen independent harvester concerns, came into being.
It was John F. Appleby, the inventor of the twine binder; who developed the first wide cut push-binder (12 ft.) He built the first successful machine for Hodges in 1897, after he solved the problem of choking up in heavy grain. This was overcome by automatically stopping the binder packers as the bundle was being tied. I've counted as high as forty (40) bundles being discharged per minute in heavy grain. Appleby also designed the 12 ft. push-binder for the Deering Company. McCormick also built them later. I have herein dealt with the wide cut push-binder and header. The development of the harvester from McCormick reaper from 1832 on is another story.