The First Thresher Reunion

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LeRoy W. Blaker
Courtesy of LeRoy W. Blaker, Alvordton, Ohio 43501

Alvordton, Ohio 43501.

There were several groups of threshermen having demonstrations
of grain threshing about the time of World War Two.

Mr. Perry Hayden, A Quaker miller of Tecumseh, Michigan in
Lenawee county planted a cubic inch of wheat containing 360 kernels
in the Fall of 1940. The next July 1941, the wheat was carefully
harvested by cutting off the heads and putting them in a sack to
dry on the back porch of the Hayden home.

They were carefully threshed with a carpet beater and winnowed
and every kernel saved that made 18,000 kernels, or 50 cubic
inches. After Mr. Hayden gave his tithe or one tenth to his Quaker
church, he had the remaining 45 cubic inches planted on September
26, 1941. Mr. Hayden and his Quaker pastor, Rev. Escolme named this
project-‘Dynamic Kernels’.

This 45 cubic inches of wheat was equally divided into 45
envelopes, and given to 45 children to plant. Before planting
started, it was discovered one of the boys had chewed his cubic
inch of wheat into wheat gum and swallowed it, so another cubic
inch of wheat of the same variety was gotten elsewhere to replace
the wheat that was eaten.

This second crop was cut with cradles on July 4th, 1942 in a
cradler’s contest, and the oldest- 92 was Harmon Russ of
Adrian, Mich. This 1942 cradled crop of wheat was taken to Michigan
State College to be threshed in a special small thresher used for
that purpose. It yielded 70 pounds of wheat, or 54.4 fold yield.
This was 1.16 bushels of wheat from the original cubic inch in two
years or 2448.6 cubic inches or 881,499 kernels from the original
360 kernels.

On the following Sunday, 10% or 7 pounds were taken to the
Quaker church as the tithe.

This 63 pounds of wheat was planted on a .77 acre tract in early
October 1942. Early in 1943, Henry Ford heard about Mr.
Hayden’s wheat tithing project, and sent some of his antique
threshing equipment from Greenfield Village to thresh this 1943
crop. This third crop of wheat amounted to 861.3 pounds. This wheat
planted 14 acres on the Ford farm one third mile east of the
Hayden-Ford original water wheel powered flour mill. This fourth
planting was done on September 25, 1943, and it was harvested with
a grain binder on July 8, 1944.

Henry Ford sent several steam threshing engines and threshers, a
horsepowered threshing machine, and other threshing equipment. This
fourth crop yielded 379 bushels and 49 pounds after the one-tenth
tithe was taken out, and was threshed on July 22, 1944. This fifth
planting of wheat covered 230 acres, and I do not have a record of
the number of bushels.

The sixth planting in the Fall of 1945 of 5,000 bushels was
loaned to 276 co-operating farmers to grow the final and 1946
tithing crop on approximately 2,500 acres. After this last crop of
tithing wheat was harvested on the farms, the 276 growers brought
the ‘Dynamic Kernels’ tithe to Adrian to the Lenawee County
Fairgrounds. Perry Hayden’s book ‘God Is My Landlord’
states the line of cars and trucks that brought in the 7,500
bushels of tithe wheat to the fairgrounds for the big celebration
on August 1, 1946, was nearly a mile long.

I attended the wheat harvesting at Tecumseh in July, 1943, and
the big threshing with lots of Henry Ford’s antique threshing
equipment from Greenfield Village on July 22nd, 1944. Perry was a
very dear friend of mine and called on me many times. If you saw a
Ford car on the highway with a banner on it reading ‘In God We
Trust’, that was Perry Hayden’s.

At Hayden Ford Threshing Project, Tecumseh, Michigan, July 22,
1944. That is a Westinghouse steam engine. Men in photo are Mr.
Schurman, Vic Wintermantel and that is Rev. Elmer L. Ritzman at
right in black coat.

From those interesting demonstrations, I was inspired to have
the first Thresher’s Reunion gathering on my farm on June 30,
1945. I sent out 100 printed postal cards, inviting anyone
interested to attend, and about 300 people came to see my three
Port Huron steam engines, machinery, and sawmill operating. Lunch
was served by ladies from Silver Creek Church Of The Brethren in my
home, and cooked on the wood burning kitchen range.

Rev. Elmer L. Ritzman, founder of this IRON MEN ALBUM magazine
named this gathering ‘Thresher’s Reunion’, and I was
proud of him for doing that. He and Vic Wintermantel came to see
the Ford-Hayden wheat threshing on Saturday July 14, 1945, and
found that Henry Ford had withdrawn from the Perry Hayden project,
so they decided to come and see me. When they neared my farm, they
saw coal smoke and saw me threshing with the 32-100 hp. Port Huron
steam engine, and 28-46 inch McCormick-Deering steel thresher. This
year, June 21-24, 1973 our National Threshers Reunion held near
Wauseon, Ohio had an attendance of about 25,000. Next year, it will
be the 30th annual reunion, and no doubt the dates will be June 27,
28, 29, 30,- 1974.

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