403 Center Street Lake Geneva, Wisconsin
In the September-October issue, Mr. J. F. Percival of Spokane, Washington, gave a very comprehensive history of the grain binder, to which I would like to add a few facts.
Cyrus H. McCormick invented the first successful reaper in July, 1831, which was later developed into the modern grain binder. The International Harvester Company was founded about 1910 or '11 and consisted of the McCormick and Deering Companies. They soon started buying up the smaller companies namely Milwaukee; Osborne; and several others. I remember that William Howard Taft was then president and he directed his Attorney General to take action on what he called a monopoly by the Harvester Company. The government demanded that the company dispose of all except McCormick and Deering, which they did, selling Milwaukee to Moline Plow Co.; Osborne to Emerson Brantingham Co., and the smaller ones to various other firms. Thus the International Harvester Co., stands today the largest manufacturer, and if I remember correctly, made and sold 23% of all farm equipment in this country in 1954.
My father bought a McCormick grain binder in 1904 and asked the dealer why it was a right hand cut. He replied that McCormick made right hand cuts for foreign trade and by mistake some got shipped out and sold for domestic use. That binder was used until 1950 and was still in good shape but we were compelled to start combining, as practically all the neighbors were doing so. I would rather cut and thresh as the grain and straw were in much better condition by this method of harvesting. That is the reason I enjoy your magazine as it brings back fond memories of the past.
The knotter used on grain binders was invented in Walworth County, Wisconsin, by a man named Applebee and was bought and first used by the McCormick Harvester Co., and later used on all other makes. After his death a monument was erected to the memory of the inventor. It still stands and can be seen from highway 12 on his former farm midway between Elkhorn and Whitewater, Wisconsin.
My favorite threshing outfit was the Advance and wish you could publish a history of that company like you did a while back about Avery. The original side-mounted Advance engine before it merged with Rumely was an easy steamer and had ample power for its rating. I liked the sharp exhaust and you could hear it for two miles when pulling hard threshing of filling silo.
Would you permit the editor to give his version of the McCormick Right Hand Cut binder? McCormick very definitely promoted the right hand cut binder. Here is one reason All the pictures of binders we have seen in catalogs are being pulled by two horses. Everybody knew that was just advertising. It took five head of horses to pull a binder all day long. To drive the horses one man rode the lead horse, which was just ahead of the cutter bar riding the lead horse. In case of scared horses or a run away the driver was often thrown from the horse and fell into the cutter bar and was badly mangled or killed. With the right hand binder the driver was to the outside and the danger was lessened. However, it was harder to drive the team in a right hand cut and keep the binder cutting full and not over full.
Most of the horses that pulled a binder for half a day were not interested in running off or even getting scared So the left hand binder won the day. Even with McCormick.