Threshing: How It Actually Was


| September/October 1992



Rt. 1 Nashville, Illinois 62263

Threshing articles are always of interest and there have been many written which tell us of the general and personal experiences of a particular writer, their father and/or grandfathers. It is important to keep in mind that it was the threshing event that was for generations the one really big event of each year! The farmers in the last third of the 1800s and through the 1920s, the 1930s or even into the 1940s, depending on what part of the country it took place, could get their crops in and nurse them along to harvest time, including the cutting and binding, but they could not thresh the grain without that big community threshing effort.

The first of the hobby shows, or reunions as they were first called, started only because of threshing and the effort to reenact that event in the form of a reunion. Today there are only few of us left who were experienced, living members of a threshing crew day after day. Therefore we should carry the details forward so that the people of today can see what those events were all about. There was indeed lots of work associated with the threshing, but the comradeship, the fun, the food and the really great feeling of accomplishment offset, many times over, the great effort and hard work.

It is interesting to note how the threshing articles in our hobby magazines vary so much. It is easy to tell which of the writers really had the direct or even indirect experiences, from those writers who write from pictures or from general conversation they have heard. However, they are all good! There are too many articles to comment about but thank you for all of them.

There were differences between the various areas of the country even though the basics of threshing were the same. There were variations in the hours per day they actually threshed. There were large differences in the bundle sizes even with the same wheat stand, but much more than that there were vast differences in the length and weight of the straw. Many of the plains and some western areas harvested much lighter and shorter straw. Even within one state variations were great. For example, in some parts of western Kansas near Colorado there was a vast difference in straw from, for example, the heavy black soils of central Kansas around Wichita and south into Oklahoma. Actually the stories are endless!! Let us hope as many of them as possible can be retained for history and future reading.

The date that combines took over from threshers also varies greatly. On the plains and in the west, they began a full generation and as many as 30 years before they did in the Mississippi Valley and parts of the east.