Route 12, Box 331, Statesville, NC
This summer began like summers before. My dad, Don Gwaltney (of
Route 3, Taylorsville, NC 28681), planted his wheat, just waiting
for harvest time. Finally harvest time arrived and all of our
family and friends joined together to cut the wheat with my
dad’s antique binder. In ninety degree temperatures we began
At the Gwaltney farm everyone works very hard to complete the
threshing. This year was a special year for my dad’s threshing,
as his only grand-daughter, my niece, announced she would like her
wedding to take place at her grandfather’s wheat threshing. My
dad was very proud of her decision–it seemed to add a special
pleasure to the event.
The wedding would take place at 12 o’clock noon on threshing
day. The ceremony was to take place on the front steps of the
Gwaltney home place, built by the bride’s great
On Saturday morning, July 7th, we awoke to a very foggy morning
and everyone immediately began to worry. This was threshing day and
also wedding day. It looked a lot like rain, but we all had work to
do, so we began.
My dad started a fire in the firebox of the steam engine to get
the pressure high enough to thresh. My mother, sister, aunts,
cousins and myself began to prepare the noonday meal. The noon meal
is a main event, for threshers are known to have very big
appetites. Friends attending bring picnic baskets so as to provide
enough food for the large crowd of people attending the event.
My nephew and his wife were up at dawn picking wild flowers in
the fields to decorate the house for the wedding. Most of the
decorations were running cedar, shasta daisies and blackeyed
susans, and they made a most appropriate setting for the special
event. Finally the decorations were completed and we were most
thankful that we had a beautiful day for the wedding.
At ten o’clock, my dad blew the whistles on his skid-type
Farquar steam engine. It was the sign everyone was waiting for.
This is when the wheat threshing begins. Everyone takes his place,
the huge engine hisses while the smoke billows from the smokestack.
The flywheel begins to turn faster and faster, pulling the belt
connecting the threshing machine.
My husband and cousins began feeding wheat into the threshing
machine, the dust and chaff filling the air as the machine
separated the wheat from the straw. My dad’s good friend Lex
Daniels collected the wheat as it spilled from the machine. The
straw passed to the baler where it was baled.
Just before neon, all work was stopped. It was almost wedding
time. The steam engine was now silent except for an occasional hiss
and a small stream of smoke from the smokestack.
At the house, decorations were complete, the food was all
prepared, and a group of three hundred people had gathered in the
yard under a big oak tree. A hushed silence could be felt while
everyone waited for the ceremony to begin.
Wedding music suddenly filled the air and a young bride,
escorted by her father emerged from the back of the house. They
passed along the side of the house to the front steps where the
groom was waiting. My mother and father had a place of honor on the
porch. The pastor chose a beautiful passage of scripture for the
double ring ceremony. It was a beautiful wedding.
Afterwards everyone enjoyed the lunch and the young couple cut
their wedding cake.
Then my dad and the threshing crew got back to work in the field
and the young couple departed for their honeymoon and a home of
My dad is now seventy-three years of age and is planning to
thresh again another year, if his health continues to be good.
Right now he has ground broken and plans to sow his wheat this