Thresherman Cider Jess

| July/August 1995

HC 69, Box 2 Fort Seybert, West Virginia 26806

This true story is dedicated to all of the old time thresher men of Pendleton County, West Virginia. These thresher men were people who did custom threshing from farm to farm. Nearly every farm raised some small grains, wheat, oats, barley or rye which needed to be threshed after the growing season was over. These men would move the threshing machine from farm to farm thereby doing the threshing service for the farmer and at the same time making a few dollars for their services.

In earlier times these threshing machines, commonly called 'thresh boxes,' were pulled with a steam engine. Fire danger was always to be contended with from these wood fired engines, and especially so during the early '30s when some extremely dry summers occurred. At this time the gasoline powered tractor had come on the scene and most of these thresher men went to this type of power because of convenience and fire safety.

Many stories of the experiences of these men have been told and retold. Experiences of broken down bridges, river crossings, treacherous narrow mountain roads, 'bad' boiler water, low boiler water, 'dry crown sheet,' soft roads, and many others. Most of these stories have faded into the past along with these men, some of whom were very colorful characters. The true story that follows concerns a person of this description.

This story was related to me some years ago by a long time friend, the late Mr. Glen Bodkin Sr. whose farm was in the Totten Chappell area of the Upper Back Thorn of Pendleton County. As Mr. Bodkin related the story to me, we walked over the area where it took place.

The thresher man and the star of our story was 'Cider' Jess Moyers who lived in the upper Thorn area. The name 'Cider' Jess was used to identify him from at least one, maybe more, of the county's persons with the same name. There were several reasons why the term 'Cider' was tacked on his name. One reason was that he owned and operated a cider mill and custom made cider for other people and also for himself. But I think probably the main reason for the term 'Cider Jess' was because of his thirst and love for the fermented product of his cider mill.