R.R. 3, Wooster, Ohio

I grew up about nine miles from Massillon, Ohio, home of Russell
and Co. but the first threshing rig that I remember was an
Aultman-Taylor engine without tanks on the rear platform and a hand
fed separator with a web stacker. It was owned by a thresher named
Peter Stakes. I remember that the engineer set me up on the
platform while the threshing was going on.

Barn threshing was done by every one in this area up to about
1930 and rigs were small. A 16 horse engine and a 27 x 46 separator
made a good sized outfit. Threshing did not start much before Labor
Day after all the oats had been hauled in.

The following incident happened about 1914 not far from my home.
A 12 horse Russell engine and hand fed, web stacker, thresher were
threshing a small job in a bank barn. Because it was the first job
of the season, the regular engineer was not on the engine, and a
young fellow was running it under the direction of the separator
man. In hooking up the eccentric he had not gotten the lever up to
the third notch where it usually ran. A visiting neighbor boy
noticed this and saying, ‘I’ll put that lever where it
belongs’, shoved the reverse lever forward, but instead of one
notch it went on over center. He jerked it back and jumping off the
platform took off over the hill. The engine had stopped for a
moment but started on again without throwing the belt.

In a few minutes the feeder came out to the engine and asked,
‘What in the hell happened back there? Another quarter inch and
the machine would have been pulled over the blocks and out of the
barn.’ On being told what had happened he said, ‘Never let
any one else near the levers when you are running an

Another incident I heard about, happened about 1910 near
Wellington, Ohio. A thresher named Peter Finkel was sawing wood,
when one of his helpers slipped and fell backward into the buzz
saw. It cut the ribs on one side loose from his spine. Ginkel sent
one of his boys to fetch a horse and buggy, and another into
Wellington to stop the next train going to Cleveland. They wrapped
the injured man in a horse blanket, put him on the train, and
telegraphed a Cleveland hospital to have an ambulance meet the
train. All ended quite well as the man was back on the job in about
six weeks.

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