A thresherman's life story


| January/February 1960



Editor's note: For some years, Dan S. Zehr has been, at my request, planning to write his life story of his threshing experience. It was completed just prior to his death and was passed on to us by Mrs. Zehr after his demise. Mrs. Zehr wants it said that the copy was proofread by Prof. Clyde Huddleson, Normal, Illinois.

We are certainly glad to get this story and to pass it on to you.  - Elmer

Now that the Illinois Brotherhood of Threshermen has completed its tenth annual reunion, the time has come to record a few interesting facts found in the early background of this important organization.

The evolutionary growth and development of the methods used from the beginning of threshing small grains until the present time furnish some of the richest and most stirring data in all agriculture history. I doubt very much if there ever existed any established group of men whose members show as much pride, spirit, and joy in the annual reliving of many of their former experiences related to the threshing program of years ago as does this brotherhood.

Perhaps the basic reason that I have enjoyed to the utmost the yearly planning of these several reunions is that I was born into a threshing machine family in Peoria County, Illinois, September 15, 1887. However, my parents, Daniel W. and Kathrina Streitmatter Zehr, moved to a farm east of Fairbury in the spring of 1890, and there I lived for a long, happy, and profitable time among men who were full-fledged threshing machine operators. My father and his three brothers operated threshing machines and my mother's brother also owned an outfit. Then, to bring the chain of interest on down to my own generation, my brother, who passed away in 1922, was owner and operator of two threshing outfits, and operated a corn sheller and fodder shredder as well.

And now, finally, myself. I have been a thresherman active in the business for fifty-eight years. So you can see that I developed according to the old adage 'bred in the bone and in the blood', and it was inevitable that I should carry on the worthy profession of 'threshermanism' for almost three score years.