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.