THE STORY OF THE REAPER - Part II


| November/December 1972



28 x 46 Separator

Fordyce Larson

Route 4, Huntington, Indiana 46750.

From the period after 1831, when reapers were either invented or discovered there was a great change in agriculture implements. Up to this time plows were the crudest things, not being manufactured by any companies, but by local blacksmiths, and mostly cast iron. These would scour in the gravelly soils of the east. When they went to break up the loose prairie soils of the west, these eastern plows would not scour, and the plow industry had to take a new look. It is rather a coincidence that Cyrus H. McCormick's problems would be no greater than those of the plowmans in the new country, in what is now called the corn belt, and that they both spanned the same years.

The first steel plow was built by John Lane of Lockport, Ill., in 1833. John Deere a native of Vermont made his first plow in 1837 in Grand Detour, Ill. Oliver started in 1853 in South Bend, Indiana. William Parlin came from the east to Canton, Ill. in 1840, and was joined by William Orendorff and their plow became known as the P & 0. In 1866 Orendorff bought the rights for a corn lister from a blacksmith in Missouri.

In 1837 Hiram Pitts from Buffalo, N. Y. made the first crude grain thresher. By 1840 a number of small threshers were made and powered by tread mills on which horses or oxen walked. However these machines did not become popular until after the Civil War.

McCormick lost his reaper factory in the great fire that swept Chicago in 1871. He went over on the south side of the river and built a large new factory which he equipped with all the latest machinery that could be had. He never spared money when it came to buying labor saving equipment of any kind.

The period from 1870 to 1900 was the great day of the Harvesting World. The west was opening up and the demand for binders was great, and along with it came problems unforeseen at that time. It seemingly never occurred to any of the companies that there might ever be any overproduction, or surplus.