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Rt. 4, Morrison, Illinois 61270

I was very interested in the account by LeRoy Blaker in the
Nov-Dec. 67 issue about the boy who was tossed into the threshing
machine. The first I heard this story was from one of my uncles who
was telling about his first day at cutting bands as a very small
boy who was let out by his parents to work for his keep. On this
particular morning, the main subject of conversation was the
incident mentioned in Mr. Blakers’ story and of course it made
a terrific impression on a small homesick lad among strangers,
especially so when the big good-natured Irishman who was feeding,
jokingly told of how many boys he had done likewise with.

My uncle spoke of this day as the most horrible experience of
his life. He was afraid of the cylinder, afraid of the big man who
was feeding and afraid to ask for a drink of water as he stood in
the hot sun, the noise and the dust, crying to himself most of the
time. His throat became so dry and sore that he was a very sick boy
for a few days.

The next I heard about the occurrence was from one of our
neighbors who with his family went to South Dakota on a visit
several years back. He told of being in the town of Mitchell, S. D.
one evening with his friends and while in the John Deere agency,
where quite a few farmers had gathered, the subject of murder
somehow came up. After listening quietly for some time a very old
appearing man spoke up and informed the crowd that as a boy he had
seen two murders in one day and that was enough for him.

Of course, some wanted to know the particulars and he told much
the same story as the one sent in by Mr. Blaker. As nearly as my
neighbor now remembers the story, it took place further west than
Mitchell. The man who was feeding the separator or threshing
machine was one who required quite a bit of ‘something to cut
the dust’ and had been much under the influence of his remedy
most of the day.

The mans’ hand had already been cut and was very sore and he
was heard to say that if it happened again it would be the last cut
that boy ever made. When the thing actually happened, the machine
was quickly brought to a stop. The men gathered in a group in the
barnyard and sent the message out to the field. The men on the job
were so shocked and angered that it was only a short time before
one found a rope which was thrown over the stacker and the man was
hanged.

After the hanging a man rode horseback to the county seat and
informed the sheriff, who came out and looked things over, asked a
few questions, loaded the body in his spring wagon and headed back
to town. The old man spoke of watching the wagon drive away with
the mans boots hanging out the back of the box.

I talked to a man a few years ago who told of his work many
years ago as an engineer in the Dakotas and Nebraska and this story
came to my mind, so I asked if he had ever heard of it on his
travels. He answered without any hesitation that he had, many, many
times and had been shown the machine that was reportedly used that
day when it all happened. I wish now I would have asked him just
where this machine was located. If my uncle were living now, he
would be close to 95 years old and it seems to me as I remember
that he was only eleven or twelve when he heard the story which
would bring it close to 1885. So, it looks as though we can believe
this as a true happening even after making plenty of allowance for
disagreements on certain details since that sad day so long
ago.

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