Now We Know

| July/August 1999

  • # Picture 01

  • # Picture 01

In the January/February 1999 IMA, we published a center spread photograph from an unidentified negative in our files, asking if anyone could tell us about it. We soon heard from Junior H. Gerken, 481 - 1800 St., Humboldt, Kansas 66478, who knew this about it was his! Mr. Gerken also provided a wealth of information about the wonderfully-documented photo, which has hung on the wall of the Gerken home since about the time he was born (he's now past 78 years), and a copy of which, along with a richly detailed description (excerpted below), has been displayed for several years in the local museum at Humboldt.

Harvest Time August 1919

Threshing time in Allen County was a big and gala event. The threshing crew would move in, and they would stay until the job had been completed.

This picture was taken the last week of August 1919, on the Henrichs estate farm, just southeast of Humboldt, where the Orange Michael family, who raised this crop, lived for 17 years. Orange and his sons Oren, Fay and Bill had rented farm ground all around them and it was planted in wheat.

The threshing machine, a Nichols and Shepard 32x52 Red River Special, and the steam engine, a 20 HP Buffalo Pitts, were owned by the Gerken brothers, L.F. Gerken and H.C. Gerken. The Gerkens harvested 3,826 bushels of wheat and 1,497 bushels of oats.

It was necessary to change the setting of the engine and threshing machine several times because of the direction of the wind. At the left side of the picture in the horse and buggy are William Michael and Leona (Michael) Lassman. Helen (Michael) Poll-man is on the horse hitched to the buggy. These three hauled water for the field crew. The water for the threshing crew was kept in the wooden barrel on the sled just at the right of the engine. Next, on the box wagon, is Bert Matlock.

The next wagon in the foreground is the water wagon which hauled the water for the steam engine. H.C. Gerken, the engineman, is seated on the left coal bunker, and Fred Hottenstein, who hauled the water for the engine, is seated on the right coal bunker. Fay Michael is leaning against the belt wheel of the engine, and Martin Mueller is standing in the belt wheel. Oren Michael is sitting on top of the right drive wheel of the engine. William Burtch is standing near the front wheel of the engine with a fork in his hand. Two unidentified neighbors are behind him.


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