KANSAS Reminiscence

Rt. 9, Box 4002, Storey Road Billings, Montana 59102

1913 was a dry year in Kansas and a very good year for alfalfa
seed hulling. My dad bought a new matchless Aultman & Taylor
huller and had it shipped to Safferdville, Kansas on the Atchison,
Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad. The flat car was accompanied with
two long timbers and a few ties so he could unload it off the end
of the car. His first job was on the Inmashe Ranch just west of
Safferdville, Kansas. By the time he finished on the ranch he had
made enough to pay for the huller. He moved his 16 HP Huber return
flue to the ranch to pull the huller. Mr. Bill Inmashe was not only
the owner of the large ranch but also the banker and owner of the
Safferdville State Bank where Aultman and Taylor had sent the
papers for the purchase to be signed by Dad. Since Mr. Inmashe owed
enough to pay the down payment and note balance Dad never had to
sign anything. Dad went on that fall and made enough to buy and pay
for a 1913 new Ford T car (I now have one just like it).

The next year my Dad’s threshing run located in the
Cottonwood River Valley flooded out and he had no other run to go
to near by, so he headed northwest to Navare, Kansas where they had
a very good wheat crop. He shipped the A-T 32-54 and the A-T 18 HP
steamer to Navare, he having sold the Huber 16 HP and 32-54
Minneapolis he owned to Jud Cooke, his nephew and my cousin. They
shipped the outfit to midwest Kansas and Dad went along to help Jud
unload and get it going.

I had run the Huber 16 HP for Dad when I was 9 years old
threshing on the Fred G. Harvey ranch in Pike Township, Lyon
County, Kansas. Mr. Harvey was the man who had run the commisary
car on the AT&SF Railroad when building across Kansas. He later
built the many Harvey Houses along the railroad, of which only a
few are left.

Navare was on the AT&SF Superior Nebraska branch. We climbed
on top of a grain car on one of the trains headed to Superior and
to my excitement there were estimated over 600 men on top of the
cars of that train, all laid off account of the white collar labor
panic of 1914. There were few if any that had any kind of a bag,
and very few with a blanket. As we started getting into the good
wheat country the train would stop by the small stock yards and
there would be a representative for the farmers there to say how
many men they could use and so many would climb down. This
continued all the way as far as our crew rode to Navare. When we
came to Navare they needed about 10 men beside our own crew of 6.
There at the little stock yards were two 5 gallon lard cans and a
pile of broken short pieces of ties. So the jungle up started. Each
man chipped in 25 cents if he had it. A buyer was appointed to go
to the little grocery store and buy wieners, bread and coffee. One
lard can was used to make the coffee in, the other to boil the
wieners in. Of course, if anyone had no money, someone would divide
up with him with the understanding that he would pay back the loan
when he got his first pay in the wheat fields. Being the only kid
on that train sure was an experience for me and to see how
everything was handled every stop. There were an average of three
or four wheat grain cars on the siding before we left each stop and
in each car was their bedding–a bundle of old newspapers!

Although it rained a bit during the threshing season, we managed
to finish our run. I had one blanket and usually slept in the barn
on the farm where we were threshing. I’ll never forget one of
the spike pitchers who before daylight about every morning would
bellow out, ‘Oster 4 o’clock and you got no steam.’ I
never particularly liked the the man but I respected his ability.
During a rainy shutdown our crew went to the blacksmith shop to
test him out as he claimed he was a good blacksmith in the old
country. The forge was lit and the regular blacksmith handed him
two 1′ rods to forge weld. The H.G. went right to work and
shaped two ends to weld, got the right heat on them held one down
with the other and welded them together with the hammer and rounded
out the rod real smooth. He then snapped the rod over the anvil and
it broke square off, one being cold rolled, the other rod carbon
steel. He did know what he was doing. He knew all the time he had
been handed a curtain steel and cold rolled rods. I might add
another story to his bragging about his life in the old country.
The crew did push on him sometimes as the time he told how they
rode mules in the old country. He said you just laid down on them
and held on to the halter. So they held a mule, got him on laying
down and a hold of the halter and they turned the mule loose. Away
he went in a dead run across the small pasture. When he saw the
fence he came to a sliding dead stop. Poor H.G. went right straight
over his head and headfirst into the woven white fence. It sure
slowed him down for a day or two and lucky for him the rain lasted
two days so he was pretty much ready to go when it dried up.

After the stack threshing was finished that fall, Dad gave me
$3.00, headed to our trap wagon and said, ‘Head home, you are
on your own, you should be home in a few days.’

Dave and Prince, the water wagon team, were sorrel Percherons, a
very willing team. Prince was willing to do the pulling and Dave
was always willing to let him. By the way, when I was 16 years old
I bought this team from Dad for my water wagon as I had bought the
A&T outfit from Dad and started my own threshing run just west
of Hartford, Kansas. The separator blew up the first day, another
long story to tell sometime. I kept Dave and Prince both till they
passed away.

Farm Collector Magazine
Farm Collector Magazine
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