Henry Naber's Threshing Rig

| January/February 1994

  • # Picture 01

  • # Picture 01

S47 W22300 Lawnsdale Rd. Waukesha, Wisconsin 53186

The late Henry Naber (1891-1943) farmed and did custom threshing and corn shelling in Seward County, Nebraska, near Beaver Crossing, from about 1910 to 1943, when his health forced him to turn the operation over to his son, Ernie.

His engine (see photo) was a return flue Huber, believed to be of 30 HP. Note the unusual two wheel tender. The top is filled with coal, and the sides appear to be tool boxes. The men are not stacking straw, so they probably do not intend to save it. In areas where straw was not needed it was commonplace to 'torch the stack' before moving on to the next set merely to be rid of it.

My grandfather, Frank Sindelar, 'followed the harvest' for several seasons 'somewhere in the big wheat fields out West.' He told of how the smoke from a torched stack was a signal that could be seen for many miles. It meant that that set was finished, and the rig was 'on the move' towards the next set.

Local 'cornhuskers' today deny that any straw piles were ever burned in their area. 'Nothing was wasted,' they say. Obviously that practice was dictated by local needs and customs.

Note the dog, though somewhat blurred no doubt by movement, near the wheel of the tender. The lush growth in the foreground appears too uniform to be merely weeds. It has been suggested that it may be alfalfa. Do any of you have a better idea?