This story is reprinted from the July, 1935 issue of Farm
Grain threshers were among the earliest of the agricultural
implements to be developed. The flail was a laborious tool and the
time required to separate the grain from the straw was too long to
satisfy the average farmer. Most of the early threshers had their
inception right on the farm. Manufacturers took of the ideas worked
out by the farmers and developed them into practical working
The first type of thresher was what was known as the ‘ground
hog’. It consisted merely of a drum with some spikes driven
into it which coordinated with a makeshift concave. Grain, chaff
and straw came from the machine as a body to be later separated by
winnowing. A later improvement consisted of an open shaker through
which grain fell onto a canvas and the straw passed on to the end
of the shaker to be forked away. The grain had to be subjected to a
further winnowing in order to separate the chaff and short
The development in threshing machines was very slow for many
years because of the lack of suitable power with which to operate
them. Every improvement took more power so that the improvements
were limited to the power which could be provided. The sweep
horsepower was a decided improvement over the tread power but it
was not until the steam traction engine was developed that the real
development in threshers began.
As an indication of the early development of threshing machines,
here are the dates of the beginning of some of the more important
threshing machine concerns. Many of them have now passed out of
existence or have been merged with other companies.
1834G. Westinghouse & Co. Central
Bridge, N.Y. (In 1856 removed to Schenectady, N.Y.)
1836Gaar-Scott Company, Richmond, Ind.
1836Sawyer-Massey Company, Hamilton, Ontario,
1837Pitts Agricultural Works, (Later
Buffalo-Pitts Co.) Buffalo, N.Y. 184OA. W. Grays Sons, Middletown
1842J. I. Case Threshing Machine Co., Racine,
1842Russell & Company, Massillon, Ohio.
1845Matthew Moody & Son, Terrebonne,
1848Nichols & Shepard Co. Battle Creek,
1848Harrison Machine Works, Belleville, Ill
1851Port Huron Engine & Thresher Company,
Port Huron, Mich.
1853Meinard Rumely Company, La Porte, Ind.
1853Frick Manufacturing Co. South Bend,
1856A. B. Farquhar Company, York, Pa.
1865Aultman & Taylor Machinery Company,
1867S. K. Campbell Company, Central Bridge,
1867Martin Williams, (Later Clark Machine
Company) St. Johnsville, N.Y.
1873Keck-Gonnerman Company, Mt, Vernon,
1877Reeves & Company, Columbus, Ind.