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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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,
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
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
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
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
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.