Out of the Attic: Threshing Ring

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The following article was sent to us by Mike Bandow,
Bandow’s Wood, Wind & Water, Rt 3, Box 3329, Hayward,
Wisconsin 54843. Reprint permission granted us by Country Journal,
Box 870, Manchester Center, Vermont 05255. Edith Chase, Mill
Hollow, Alstead, New Hampshire 03602, provided the original photo,
which is no longer in her possession.

A century ago Temple and Adison Newlin were well known to the
residents of Plainfield, Indiana, a farming community some 15 miles
southwest of Indianapolis. Every year, just after spring planting,
the brothers would visit the farms in the area to see who had put
in wheat or oats and to learn how many acres of each grain had been
planted. Using this information, they would form a ‘threshing
ring,’ a group of up to twenty farmers who would cooperate on
the threshing. Each year there would be a ring for oats and one for
wheat, and when the grains ripened, the Newlin brothers would move
their steam powered threshing machine to each farm in turn,
threshing grain at the rate of 7 cents a bushel. The harvest season
was one of community effort, with each farmer in a ring
contributing his labor on the other farms. Usually a farmer would
contribute his time in proportion to the sizes of his grain fields.
Customarily the oat farmer only contributed to the oat ring and the
wheat farmer to the wheat ring, although there were exceptions, and
some farmers were members of both rings.

Unfortunately, we haven’t a clue as to the identities of the
people in this photograph, although Temple’s granddaughter,
Edith Chase, of Alstead, New Hampshire, guesses that the bearded
man on the steam tractor in the foreground is one of the Newlin
brothers and the woman beside him is his wife. Our thanks to Mrs.
Chase for sharing this account of community cooperation

Farm Collector Magazine
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