Nichols & Shepard 25-90 HP D/C, Pontiac, 1952.
RR 1, Athens, Illinois 62613
This article represents the personal reminiscences of the Rev. Norbert Lucht, who grew up on a Wisconsin farm in the 1920's. He became a Lutheran minister, but retired due to ill health in 1971. He is an avid collector of steam engine photographs, catalogs, etc. and attends steam shows, having met Pastor Elmer Ritzman (founder and first editor of IMA) in 1952 at the Central States Thresherman's Reunion at Pontiac, Illinois.
Crop Rotation Since I grew up on a dairy farm in a very hilly section of Wisconsin the farmers of necessity practiced crop rotation. In this system you sowed oats on a certain field one year and you seeded it down with clover or alfalfa. The second year it would be in hay and you usually got 2 crops off it. If it was alfalfa you could get 3 crops. Some of the best hay we ever raised was in 1941 and 1943. I recall that in June of 1941 when we went to cut alfalfa by Carl Held's garden it was at least 3 feet tall.
For the 3rd year you would plow under the clover or alfalfa and plant corn on it. If you knew in advance that you were going to plant corn on a particular field you would also haul manure on it.
The soil in that part of Wisconsin is timber soil which is not too fertile. With the introduction of the Agricultural Adjustment Act during the Roosevelt administration the farmers were able to get lime and in the earlier years we spread this by hand. In the spring of 1948 my dad bought a new McCormick trailer type lime spreader. With this spreader my dad drove the horses and I shoveled the lime or phosphate into the spreader. This worked fine.
Plowing In the early years on my father's farm in Wisconsin most farmers used walking plows. My father owned 3 regular walking plows an Oliver, a John Deere bought in 1927, and a Madison bought in 1944. Besides these he also had a Moline sod breaker plow. This plow had an extra long mold board and did a wonderful job in sod. Incidentally, this plow had a wooden beam. In the fall of 1944 my dad and I plowed with 2 teams.
Riding Plows Sulky Plows In the fall of 1943 my dad purchased a used David Bradley sulky plow at an auction sale. I recall that one day while I was plowing on the ridge I hit a rock and it threw me off the plow. One disadvantage of plowing with a riding plow was that in cold weather you got cold riding. The David Bradley plow would not stay in the ground if you got off the seat.
Gang Plows I recall that H. C. W. Lucht had a Madison gang plow. Although I never plowed with a gang plow I would imagine that one man with one of these plows could plow quite a few acres in a day. However, in the spring of the year when you were plowing for corn you couldn't make much headway because the horses would have to rest every 3 or 4 rounds.
Two-way Plows One of our neighbors owned a P & O two-way plow. The advantage of this type of plow was that you could plow on a side hill and you didn't have one wheel in the furrow on the steep part. Another advantage was that it didn't leave any dead furrows.
Pull-Type Tractor Plows When Uncle Herb and Uncle Walter Pfaff bought a new McCormick-Deering 10-20 tractor in 1928 they also bought a new McCormick-Deering P & O Little Wonder tractor plow. Pull type plows were of two types: one had a third wheel which stayed on the ground at all times. This was the type that Pete Lucht had. It was a McCormick-Deering. My dad bought a new Massey-Harris model 25 tractor plow in the spring of 1946. This plow was a trailer type, the rear wheel came off the ground when you lifted the plow out of the ground. Paul Zietlow owned an Allis-Chalmers tractor plow. When Rheiny Lucht bought a new Minneapolis-Moline Model Z tractor in the fall of 1947, he bought a Wizard tractor plow. My mother's Uncle Charles Pfaff owned a 3 bottom Case tractor plow. When Alvin Johnson plowed for us in the spring of 1944 he owned a 3 bottom John Deere tractor plow.
Mounted Tractor Plows When Pete Lucht bought a new Ford-son tractor in the fall of 1927 it was equipped with a Ferguson wheel-less plow with a hand lift. This was very handy because you could back right into a fence corner with it. For about 10 years, no more was heard of mounted plows. However, when the Ford Motor Co. brought out their new Ford tractor with the Ferguson system in the fall of 1939, they had a hydraulically operated mounted plow. Allis-Chalmers came out with a mounted plow in 1948 and after 1950 all of the major tractor manufacturers came out with mounted plows.
Spring-Tooth Harrows Since the soil was rocky in the Big Creek Community most of the farmers used a spring-tooth harrow to get the soil ready for sowing and planting and sowing. My dad owned a 2 section Osborne harrow and we pulled it with 3 horses. H. C. W. Lucht owned a 3 section Massey-Harris harrow and he used 4 horses on it. When Pete Lucht bought his Fordson tractor in 1927, he also bought a 3 section McCormick-Deering spring-tooth harrow with a row of Drad teeth in the rear. My dad bought a new Massey-Harris 3 section spring-tooth harrow in the spring of 1946. This harrow really did a good job of working up the plowed ground.
Field Cultivators The first field cultivator in our community was bought by Otto Daudert in the spring of 1938. It was an 8 foot John Deere-Van Brunt and he pulled it with his Massey-Harris model 25 tractor. This size cultivator required a 3 plow tractor to pull it. Pete Lucht bought a 6 foot McCormick-Deering field cultivator and I borrowed it once to work up a field by Carl Held's. When you set it deep it really gave the tractor a load. This was a Massey-Harris 101 Jr. tractor. Frank Lucht owned a 5 foot John Deere field cultivator and I went up to his place twice and hooked on to it.
Disc Harrows In the earlier years not many disc harrows were used in the Big Creek community because of the rocky soil. My dad did own an Osborne disc harrow and I recall that he disced corn stubble above the barn in the fall of 1934 and sowed rye on it.
Spike-Tooth Harrows Every farmer in our community owned a spike-tooth harrow. I recall that in the spring of 1937 I hooked one horse to the spike-tooth harrow and harrowed the ground after Dad had sowed oats. Dad bought a new McCormick-Deering spike-tooth harrow in the spring of 1940.
Getting Corn Ground Ready There were times when we plowed our corn ground in the spring. Just as soon as the field was plowed we would hitch the horses to the spike-tooth harrow and work it down. After that we would work it twice with the spring-tooth harrow, once lengthwise and then diagonally. Then we would go over it with the spike-tooth harrow; by that time it was smooth as a garden and was ready for planting.
Sowing Rye as an Emergency Crop I have already described the crop rotation plan which was used on the A. C. Lucht farm. However, back in the 1930's, when we had some extremely dry and hot summers, the new seeding didn't come through the summer. When that happened Dad would often disc a field and then sow rye in the fall for fall pasture and then the next spring he would plow it under for corn. In the fall of 1934 Dad sowed rye on the field above the barn. Since it was such a good stand the next spring, we left it and cut it with the binder and threshed it. Sometimes we also sowed rye on a certain field when you wanted to get a catch of clover on it.
Oats For Hay In the 1930's when we didn't have much hay, my dad would sometimes sow oats in the spring and then we would cut it for hay.
Soy Beans When I think back to my years on the farm I always think of soy beans as an emergency hay crop. I never will forget our experience with soy beans in September of 1935. We had a small field of soy beans and every time we got ready to haul them in it would rain. We finally hauled them into the ditch.
Fall Plowing As far back as I can remember my dad always did some plowing every fall. My first experience in plowing was in the fall of 1939. Dad had gone corn shredding and he wanted me to plow a small field that was corn stubble. As I was following the walking plow I was thinking how nice it would be to have a riding plow. In the fall of 1944 my dad bought a new Madison walking plow and since we had 4 horses I used the Madison plow and my dad was using a John Deere. If a plow was set right and the share was properly sharpened it really was easy to plow. I recall one time when I was plowing on the field east of the lane with the John Deere plow, and evidently the share was not sharpened correctly, because in order to keep the plow in the ground you had to lift up on the handles all the time. Another time, I was plowing the field by the steps, the field had been in corn and it was wet when we filled silo so the wagons made ruts in it. While I was plowing you could really tell when you hit these spots because you would really have to wrestle with the plow.
Plowing Sod My father owned a Moline sod breaker plow and it had an extra long moldboard and it did an excellent job in sod. When we bought a new Massey-Harris model 25 tractor plow in the spring of 1946 my dad had extensions made from old plow shares and they did help some but you couldn't beat the special moldboard for a good job. In the spring I plowed sod for a neighbor and had to stay in second gear all of the time. The lays on the plow were dull and the alfalfa roots were the size of your little finger and that made it pull hard.
Plowing in Sand In the fall of 1946 another neighbor asked me to plow for him. Since this was sand I could really tell the difference, you could go wide open in 3rd gear. However, I do think that this kind of soil was hard on the mold boards.
Plowing on a Side Hill It is relatively easy to plow on the level but it is a different story when you plow on a side hill. When we first got our tractor it was not equipped with a draw-bar shifter and the first field I plowed was a side hill east of the barn. I had to stop at each end and shift the drawbar over and slip in a bolt. Later that spring we did get a side-hill hitch and it worked quite well. When you were plowing on a side hill and you lifted the plow out of the ground for a water run, the plow tended to slide down hill and you ended up with a crooked furrow. Sometimes when you are plowing on a side hill and are turning the sod up hill you have a hard time turning it over. I would think it would be most difficult to plow on a steep side hill with a mounted plow.
In the fall of the year when the plowing was done we cleaned the mold boards off and painted them with used crank case oil. Sometimes our neighbor would leave his plow in the ground where he quit plowing in the fall and would hook on to it the next spring and finish the field. The only problem was that the plow would not scour too well.
Planting Corn In the years before the farmers in the Big Creek community used horse-drawn corn planters, they planted their corn by hand. First they had to mark the field and for this they had a horse drawn 4 row marker.
The field was marked in squares so that the corn could be checked. I have heard my dad tell that the first hand corn planters required 2 hands to operate. My grandfather William Lucht, Sr., bought a planter that only required one hand to operate and he was criticized by the older men in the neighborhood.
I suppose that the first horse-drawn corn planter in the neighborhood was bought by W. C. E. Lucht in 1917. It was a Gale planter and I recall that you had to get off the planter at each end and move the marker to the other side. In the spring of 1923 my dad and uncle bought a new International No. 2 planter. This planter was an improvement over the older planters in that the marker lifted up when you pulled the lever up to lift the planter out of the ground. In the spring of 1933 W. C. E. Lucht bought a new McCormick-Deering planter. This planter had automatic markers which meant that when you came to the end of the row and turned around the marker folded against the planter and the other one marked the next row. I believe that H. C. W. Lucht was the first farmer in our neighborhood to own a corn planter with a fertilizer attachment. You put the fertilizer into the fertilizer hoppers and there was a flexible metal tube that directed it to the shoe. After my dad and Leo both got rid of their horses they cut the tongue of Leo's planter and then when they planted corn my dad rode the planter and Leo drove the tractor. By now most farmers in the Big Creek community have 2 row tractor planters.
Planting Potatoes There was a time when all of the farmers in the Big Creek community planted quite a few potatoes. Here, too, many of them probably marked their fields with a horse-drawn marker and then used a hand planter. There were 2 basic types: one was the cow bell planter and the other for lack of a better name I shall call the tube type. When using any one of these planters you carried the potatoes in a sack with a strap around your shoulder and every time you got ready into the hill or tube you got one out of the sack.
In later years some of the farmers had horse-drawn potato planters. Here again there were 2 basic types, the one had the seed hopper behind the seat and the other had the hopper in front. The As pin wall had the hopper in back of the seat. In the Hoover planter the hopper was in front of the seat. The potatoes dropped into a channel where a picker wheel mounted on the axle dropped them into the shoe. The 2 discs in the back covered the potatoes up.
When we planted potatoes in the garden we planted them with a hoe. Some farmers planted potatoes by using a walking plow and then dropping the potatoes into the furrow and then made another round and plowed them under.
Cultivating Corn As soon as the corn was up so we could see the rows we got our old John Deere sulky cultivator. On this cultivator you had 2 pedals and they shifted the gangs. The newer model cultivators had a spring trip on the shovels so that when you hit a rock the shovel would spring back. In later years we owned a McCormick-Deering Sulky cultivator that had this feature. The old John Deere however had wooden pons that would break when you hit a solid object. My dad always carried a few extras in the tool box so that he could replace the broken ones. The John Deere also had a feature not found on later model cultivators. It had a lever on the tongue so you could shift it on a side hill. On the John Deere you had to lift each gang separately. The McCormick-Deering had a master lever so you could lift both gangs at once.
Most farmers in the Big Creek community also had 1 horse cultivators. I believe it was in the summer of 1937 that I started to cultivate with one horse. We had an International 1 horse cultivator with 5 shovels. Besides this we had a McCormick-Deering cultivator with spike teeth. And we also had a Badger cultivator with 3 large shovels. My grandfather used this when the corn was tall.
In the summer of 1946 we got a 2 row cultivator for our Massey-Harris tractor. I recall that one time I was cultivating corn by the Wonewoc Road and I got on the wrong rows, but it was planted so well that I didn't cultivate out any corn. On the Massey-Harris cultivator there was a square bar that slid through the front end of the frame. The front gangs of the cultivator slid on to this bar and were held in place by set screws. It took 2 men to put the cultivator on.
Making Hay Each year around the 20th of June, my dad would get out the old Deering mower and start to cut hay. We used an Osborne dump rake to rake it into windrows and then my sisters and I would make it into cocks. When we hauled in hay my dad and I pitched it on to the wagon and my mother loaded it. When we got to the barn my dad would set the fork, my mother would lead the horse and I would mow it away. After we got our tractor my dad would drive the tractor and my mother would set the fork.
When Alvin Johnson bought a used John Deere baler in the summer of 1951 he baled hay for us. I recall that one year he was baling on a side hill and Dad and Pete Lucht walked alongside of the baler to keep it from tipping over. Then another time, when Alvin was baling on a side hill and it was a steep grade and the front end of the tractor came off the ground. I then hooked on in front so that he could make it up the grade. In those years we let the bales fall on the ground and later loaded them on the wagon. Then when we got to the barn we pushed the wagon into the barn with the tractor and then unloaded the bales by hand. It was hard work.
The first one in our neighborhood to have a hay loader was H. C. W. Lucht. I will never forget when Rheiny and his mother were hauling in hay in the field next to our land using the loader and we were loading hay by hand it looked so much easier and they had a load in no time. However, as I look back I do remember my dad telling that Clarence Beimel owned a Keystone Scratch type loader around 1917. This loader picked up the hay out of the swath and you didn't need a side delivery rake. I would imagine that these loaders pulled hard. Then in the summer of 1929, W. C. E. Lucht and Herman Prochnow went into the haying business. Bill Lucht bought the Rock Island side delivery rake and Herman bought the loader and for a few years they made hay together. In the spring of 1948 my dad bought a McCormick push bar loader and a John Deere side delivery rake. I then found out that to load hay behind a loader was hard work. Luckily we used the tractor on the wagon and you could go real slow.
Cutting GrainThe oats usually got ripe around the middle of July so that meant getting the binder out of the shed. In the earlier years we used 3 horses on our McCormick 6 foot binder. Dad ran the binder and Mother and I did the shocking. Uncle Paul Held had a Deering binder and I believe that it was a light running binder, 2 horses could pull it easily. My grandfather William Lucht, Sr., was a great McCormick grain and corn binder booster and very often when my Uncle Albert Roloff would come over they would discuss the merits of each make. Uncle Albert had a Milwaukee grain and corn binder. As I recall my dad telling about it, the Milwaukee was an easy running binder but it didn't tie as well as the McCormick. The last new grain binder purchased in our neighborhood was a McCormick-Deering purchased by Rein-hold Lucht. Henry and Carl Held both had Minnesota binders. If I remember Hugo Diece had an Acme Binder. When Emil Buelow moved on the Beimel farm in the spring of 1941 he had an Osborne binder.
After we got our tractor, Dad said that we would never use it for cutting grain. However, one morning in the summer of 1946, we were cutting oats on top of the hill and it was very hot. We weren't making much headway, so at noon Dad said that we were going to borrow Pete's short tongue this afternoon and cut with the tractor. We never did use the horses after that.
I suppose it was around 1965 that Leo Lucht went down to Illinois and bought a used 8 foot McCormick-Deering power take-off binder. They were still using it in the summer of 1969 but this was the last year they used it. They combined after that.
Threshing MachinesMy grandfather William Lucht, Sr., was a custom thresherman. Around 1902 he used a Case 32-54 thresher which was a hand fed machine with a straw carrier. In the earlier he used a 6 sweep horsepower to run the machine. However in 1906, August Steffen bought a new Advance steam traction engine and he used it to run my grandfather's machine. The machine did not have a bagger or weigher, as my dad related it to me. Half-bushel measures were set under the delivery spout of the thresher and when they were full, they were set on the tally connected to the talley box and the half bushels were counted. After this the measure was dumped in the sack. I am not certain in what year the self-feeder and wind stacker were attached to a thresher but it must have been around 1900. These were great labor-saving devices. I suppose it was also around this time that weighers and baggers were added to separators.
In the early days most of the farmers stacked their grain. One reason for this was there were not many threshermen in the country and sometimes a farmer wouldn't get his threshing done until November. In the Loganville, Wisconsin area they had a shelter for the stacks with a roof that could be moved up and down. This was used to protect the stack from the rain. I can still recall the last year that we stacked our grain. This was in 1927.
Steam Threshing Outfits
The steam traction engine reached the height of its popularity in 1912. There were several types of steam traction engines. First there was the rear mounted engine. The Case engine was of this type. Another type of engine was the side mounted engine. The Advance was of this type. The water supply tank was on the rear platform. On the Nichols & Shepard double cylinder rear mounted engine, the water supply tanks were ahead of the drive wheels. The Minneapolis engine had the water tank ahead of the smoke stack. It is interesting to see how many models of traction engines were on the market.
When steam power was in its hey day there were large threshing outfits in the western states. A look at any thresher catalog of the earlier years would indicate that the largest sizes were as large as 44-64. The largest outfit in the Big Creek community was a 32-56 Red River special thresher powered by a 20 HP Advance engine. This was when stack threshing was the accepted custom. I have heard my dad tell about the wind feeders which were designed for stack threshing. I have seen wing feeders illustrated in thresher catalogs and, as near as I can tell, you could crank them up high when the stack was full and lower them as the stack was lowered.
The first tractor outfit in our community was owned by Frank Kallian and Sons. It consisted of a 16-30 Rumely Oil Pull tractor and a 28-44 Advance-Rumely Ideal separator. If I remember correctly this outfit was shipped to La Valle, Wisconsin by rail in July of 1921. The outfit that I remember best was that owned by H. C. W. Lucht consisting of a Case 18-32 tractor, bought used in 1927 and a 28-46 Case thresher, bought new in July of 1928.
In the summer of 1928 we started shock threshing in our neighborhood. This meant that the farmers hauled the bundles from the field to the machine. When using this system you had at least 4 men out in the field pitching bundles, 7 teams hauled the bundles, and there were at least 4 men who carried the grain from the machine to the granary. In the crew you also had 1 man that tended the sacker, a blower tender and 2 men to set the straw pile. When our threshing run broke up in the summer of 1943 we didn't have as much help so I recall that we hauled the grain in the back of Pete Lucht's International pick-up truck. This was hard work because you had to unload in a hurry and get back before all the bags were filled. In the last years that we threshed we hauled the grain in Dave Held's and Erwin Lucht's trucks and unloaded it with a portable elevator.
I suppose that every thresherman had a favorite machine. In my opinion the Case was one of the simplest machines ever made. They only had 5 belts. The earlier Case 28-46 machines did not have the straw room that the 28-47 of 1936 did. Of all the machines I ever worked around I thought that the Case had the best blower controls. Case never did use the 4 section rotary straw rack so that might be a distinct disadvantage.
Otto Daudert bought a new Minneapolis special threshing machine in July of 1940. This machine had an eccentric instead of a crankshaft so that it was a much smoother running machine than the Case. It also had a Hart self feeder and I thought that this was a good one.
When our Reedsburg High School Agriculture Club visited Swartz Brothers Cornfalfa Farms near Waukesha, Wisconsin in June of (date?) they told us that when they were custom threshermen using a 36-56 Peerless machine and a 30-60 International Mogul tractor they had a blower and many sections of pipe and would blow the grain from the separator to the granary.
I once saw a picture in the Hoard's Dairyman which showed a farmer elevating grain into his granary with a silo filler. He had a trough fixed so that the grain went directly into the blower.
CombinesThe earlier combines were 12, 14, 16, and 20 foot cut and so were not practical in the smaller fields in the middle west, when Allis-Chalmers introduced the All Crop Harvester in 1935 this brought the combine down to the needs of the average farmer. I do recall that the first combine in our community was purchased by Walter Zietlow around 1947. It was a Minneapolis-Moline but he didn't use it very long. Adolph Kallian had an Allis-Chalmers combine around 1946. The first self-propelled combine in Dad's immediate neighborhood was purchased by my cousin Erwin Lucht in 1965. It was a small Massey-Harris.
According to my dad, 1969 marked the last year that they threshed in our old neighborhood. In 1970, the grain was harvested with a combine.
Filling SiloMy dad, Herman Prochnow, W. C. E. Lucht and H. C. W. Lucht put up silos in 1923. Lucht bought their first corn binders. In the earlier years Bill Lucht had a chain drive McCormick corn binder and Clarence Beimel had a John Deere corn binder and they cut all of the corn in the neighborhood for silo filling. Bill Lucht bought a new McCormick-Deering gear drive corn binder in 1933. Uncle Paul Held bought an old Moline A driance corn binder around 1939. Dad bought a used McCormick corn binder in the fall of 1942. We had corn above our barn and it was big. Our old binder just wouldn't go through it so Dad borrowed H. C. W. Lucht's Milwaukee corn binder and it went right through. My grandfather August Pfaff had a Deering horizontal corn binder. This binder had so many universal joints that it gave a lot of trouble. The only corn binder I ever saw with a bundle carrier was Paul Stoeckmann's McCormick. All of the makes offered a conveyor type bundle carrier and also a bundle loader which elevated the bundles right on the wagon.
Although I never did see it, I did hear of a sled type device for cutting corn. I don't know whether 1 or 2 horses were used to pull the sled but there were 2 knives mounted so that the corn was cut off. The man riding on the sled would grab an armfull of corn and throw it to the side.
Silo FillersThere were 2 basic types of silo fillers: the cylinder type and the flywheel type. In the earlier years the Gehl Bros. Mfg. Co. of West Bend, Wisconsin built only the cylinder type. The I. B. Rwell Co. of Waukeshau, Wisconsin and the Eagle Mfg. Co. of Appleton, Wisconsin also built this type. On this type of filler you threw the corn in from the side.
The Case flywheel type silo filler was equipped with an unloading chute to make unloading easier. In the earlier years distributor pipes were used all the way to the bottom of the pit of the silo, and 3 men tramped the silage. However, since the silage didn't keep any better when this method was used, the practice was discontinued. In later years no one was in the silo until it was nearly full and then 2 men leveled off the silage with forks.
For silo filling we used 6 teams to haul the corn from the field to the filler. There were 2 men at the filler to help unload. Besides this there were usually 2 or 3 men out in the field helping load the wagons. Silo filling was hard work. In later years field choppers were used together with self-unloading wagons and this certainly makes the work much easier.
Shocking CornIn the years before we had our own corn binder we always cut the corn for shocking by hand. When you did this you went into the field and took 4 stalks of corn and bent them over and twisted them together. After this you started to cut corn and put it around the 'buck'. Then when the shock was complete we tied a string around the top.
After we had our own corn binder we cut all the corn left over from silo filling with it. Then came the job of setting up the shocks. In doing this we used a wooden horse. It took 2 men to set up corn shocks like this and it too was hard work, when the shock was finished you tied a string around it to hold it in place.
Husking CornWhen husking hand cut shocks you cut the 'bucks' and then sat on the stalks you had husked with your knees. When the entire shock was finished you tied the stalks into large bundles which you in turn set up again.
The procedure was much the same with binder cut shocks. However you first had to cut the strings on all the bundles before you could start husking.
In the fall of 1939 we snapped the corn in the field before we filled silo. Then we went out into the field with the hay rack and picked up the ears and hauled them on the back driveway of the barn. At the end of September my grandmother and I husked the corn and I hauled it to the corncrib with a washtub on our wheelbarrow.
Shredding CornThe corn shredder was a machine that snapped and husked the corn and shredded the fodder.
It is of special interest to me that Mr. August Rosenthal together with his brothers invented the Rosenthal corn husker on his father's farm near Reeds-burg, Wisconsin. Several years later they moved to Milwaukee and organized the Rosenthal corn Husker Co. They were in business until 1957. The Rosenthal corn husker was unique because it had combination husking and snapping rolls.
It was during the middle 30's that the International Harvester Co. stole the patent on the Rosenthal corn husker and made their McCormick-Deering shredder like it. They also had a safety clutch connected to the platform so that when the operator's weight was off the platform the rolls stopped. Another feature on the McCormick-Deering was a blower that could be extended by turning a crank. On the Rosenthal you bolted on sections of pipe. I have already mentioned the Appleton shredder, the New Idea shredder also used separate snapping and husking rolls. This shredder was made by New Idea, Inc. of Cold-water, Ohio. The U. S. Goodhue made by the U. S. Pump & Wine Engine Co. of Batavia, Illinois also used this principle. These were the firms that were still doing business in 1939 when I was collecting literature on corn shredders. To this list we must also add the Dues Husker-Shredder made by the Dues Machine Co. of Munster, Ohio.
In looking through a book entitled 'An Album of American Belt-Powered Machines', I find that there were many makes of corn shredders in the early days. My 1910-1911 Advance Thresher Co. catalog describes their 10 and 12 roll shredders. And in 1915 the J.I. Case Threshing Machine Co. was making shredders.
A corn shredder was a dangerous machine to work around and when I was a boy there were a number of men around LaValle and Wonewoc, Wisconsin who had lost their arms in corn shredder accidents. What would happen would be this: some corn stalks would get caught between the rolls and the man who was doing the feeding would reach into the rolls to pick it off and the rolls would pull his hand into the machine. As early as 1914 the Port Huron Engine & Thresher Co. had a husker-shredder on the market which had a self-feeder but I don't know whether it ever got on the market or not.
It was in the fall of 1947 that I saw a Rosenthal Combine at the Farm Progress Day at the Sauk County Farm south of Reedsburg, Wisconsin. This machine closely resembled a corn picker. It picked the corn and elevated into a wagon on the side and blew the fodder into a wagon you pulled behind. This machine was probably introduced too late, because by 1947 fewer and fewer farmers were shredding corn.
Corn PickersI really have no idea as to the year that corn pickers were introduced. The IHC Almanac and Encyclopedia for 1914 lists them as being part of their line. I recall seeing New Idea and John Deere 2 row pull type pickers advertised in 'Successful Farming' in 1930. Corn pickers were used in Illinois and Iowa long before they were introduced in Wisconsin. The first corn pickers in the Big Creek community were owned by Ray Beimel (Wood Bros, pull-type) and Art Preston (2 row picker mounted on a McCormick-Deering model M Tractor). This was in 1944-45. David Held owned the first corn picker in my dad's neighborhood, a 1 row New Idea Pull Type purchased in 1960. He picked for quite a few of the neighbors.
Sowing GrainMy grandfather William Lucht, Sr., purchased the first seeder in our neighborhood in 1899. It was a Dowagiac seeder made by the Dowagiac Drill and
Seeder Co. of Dowagiac, Michigan. There were really 2 basic types of seeders, those that had spring teeth to cover the grain and those that had shovels like a sulky cultivator.
Another make of seeder that was very popular in our neighborhood was the tiger made by the J.S. Rowell Mfg. Co. of Beaver Dam, Wisconsin. This make was owned by Herman Prochnow, Carl Held, Gustav Held, and August Pfaff. Uncle Paul Held had a Hoosier seeder. H.C.W. Lucht had a Buckeye and Henry Held and Uncle Albert Roloff owned John Deere-Van Brunt seeders. In the spring of 1936 W.C.E. Lucht traded his Van Brunt drill for a new McCormick-Deering seeder. This seeder was replaced by a drill in 1964.
Grain DrillsWhen I was a boy our next door neighbor, W.C.E. Lucht owned a Van Brunt double disc grain drill. As I recall there were at least 4 basic types of drills. The single disc, the double disc, the shoe type and the hoe type. I recall that our neighbor Clarence Beimel owned a Dowagiac Shoe Drill. I suppose this type of drill worked best if there was a lot of trash in the field. Paul Stoeckmann owned a Tiger single disc drill. Around 1936 Otto Daudert traded his seeder for a new Moline-Monitor grain drill. It was equipped with steel wheels and a steel hopper. In the spring of 1948 Reinhold Lucht bought a new Minneapolis-Moline drill with a fertilizer attachment and mounted on rubber tires. In later years more farmers bought this type of drill.
Sowing Grain by HandI recall one year when my dad sowed a small field of wheat by hand. He didn't want to get the seeder out for such a small patch.
Sowing Clover SeedEach year we sowed oats in the spring of the year and we also sowed clover or alfalfa seed. My dad owned a Horn seeder. It had a strap that fit over your shoulder and as you crossed the field you swung the metal tube to the right and left and in this way the field was seeded.
My Uncle Paul Held had a Cyclone seeder on which you turned a crank to sow the seed. It turned a small disc which scattered the seed.
This was a job that usually came around the first week in October. In the years before 1940 most farmers in the Big Creek community planted at least 2 acres of potatoes. Quite a few farmers owned potato diggers. My dad owned a Hoover made by the Hoover Mfg. Co. of Avery, Ohio. Paul Stoeckmann owned a Dowdwen. Otto Daudert owned a McCormick-Deering and Arnold Roloff had an Aspinwall. The John Deere Co. bought Hoover in 1927. Clarence Beimel had a John Deere-Hoover digger. On this digger a roller replaced the usual truck wheels. In the earlier years Uncle Paul's and Uncle Carl Radtke's dug potatoes together with us until 1929. After 1929 Uncle Paul's continued to help us until 1940. When we dug potatoes we took 2 wagons with double boxes out to the field. Then Uncle Paul and Dad would hitch 4 horses to the digger and they would dig until noon. At noon they would take both wagons home and unload them. Then in the afternoon they would dig 3 more double boxes. In the years before 1932 my cousin Herman Held and I didn't help pick up potatoes. The crew consisted of the following: My dad drove the digger, my mother and Aunt Hannah picked together, Grandpa Lucht and Mannie Sefkar picked together and Uncle Paul picked alone. In the fall of 1937 Uncle Paul had planted potatoes on 2 steep side hills and we had to dig them all by hand. It took several weeks to dig them. In the years after 1939 we didn't always get the digger out but quite often we would dig our potatoes by hand. The bottom dropped out of the price of potatoes in later years so the farmers only planted enough potatoes for their own use.
Hulling CloverMy first recollection of clover hulling goes back to the fall of 1927 when John Gallagher and Sons hulled at our place. They used a Birdsell huller and an Advance 20 HP steam engine. Then for a number of years we didn't hull clover. In the fall of 1939 we took a load of clover to Henry Held's where Vern Hagemann was hulling with a Birdsell huller and a 20-30 Oil Pull tractor. In the fall of 1941 Edward Schroeder of Wonewoc, Wisconsin hulled clover for Carl Held using an Advance-Rumely Huller and an Allis-Chalmers UC tractor. The best yield of clover we ever had was in the fall of 1945 when we took a load of clover over to Herman Radke's where Hugo Darge! was using my grandfather's old Birdsell huller and a Massey-Harris 101 Jr. tractor. The last time we hulled clover was in the fall of 1947. Phil Gallagher hulled for us using a Birdsell huller and a Farmall H tractor. Frank Kallian Jr. was once hulling clover for Paul Stoeckmann using an Advance-Rumely huller and an Allis-Chalmers model E tractor. It was in the fall of 1948 that Arnold Koci combined clover seed for Herman Prochnow using an Allis-Chalmers All-Crop harvester.
Cutting WoodIn the earlier years everyone burned wood in their cook stoves, heating stoves and furnaces. This meant that cutting wood was our winter's work. In the fall of 1939 my dad and I took the team and wagon and we would cut a load of pole wood in the morning and another load in the afternoon. We sawed this pile of wood at the end of November. Then we went out in the woods again in January and cut wood until the middle of March. We would cut a tree down with the cross cut saw and then trim the branches off and pile them up and pile the brush on a pile. Then we would cut the trunk into pieces 6 or 7 feet long. If they were large pieces we would split them several times so that 2 men could carry them. We would then pile them up. In the middle of March we would haul the wood together in large piles and then saw them with a buzz saw at the end of March or the first of April.
There were times when we didn't have any block wood for the furnace, so we would go out into the woods and saw down a large ash or soft maple tree and saw it into 18 inch blocks. Whenever we did this we would cut down the tree and saw off a few chunks. Then we would get a long pole to use as a pry and lift it up far enough to set some blocks under it. This in turn made it easier to saw because you didn't have to stoop down so far. I remember one winter when we had a lot of snow. Every time we would fell a tree (a small one) you couldn't even see it. Whenever H.C.W. Lucht and Martin Mueller cut wood (I remember 1940 in particular) they first cut the trunk into chunks and then cut up the limbs with a buck saw and had small piles of wood all over their woods. My experience with cutting wood was before the days of chain saws. It would be much quicker to saw down and cut up a tree with one of those. I left home in September of 1949 and after that most of our neighbors got chain saws. However, it was good exercise to pull a cross cut saw.