Farm Collector


Midland, Michigan

The attached picture was given to me by my grandfather, Guy W.
Thompson, who farmed and ran threshing rigs north of Cedar Falls,
Iowa most of his life. The threshing outfit in the picture was
owned by John Ford, my grandfather’s grandfather. (John Ford is
the gentleman standing on the engine). Since I am one of those
fellows who deserted the farm and moved to the city, I may be a bit
hazy on some of the details, however, I will list a few items of
interest which I remember from discussions with my grandfather when
he used to take me to steam shows at Hudson, Iowa; Mt. Pleasant,
Iowa, etc.

The picture was taken between 1880-1885 in Washington Township,
north of Cedar Falls, Iowa. The engine is an 8 hp Aultman-Taylor
which cost $800 new and which was eventually traded in on a 12 hp
Aultman-Taylor costing $1200. The belt is 125 feet long and 6
inches wide. You can see a screw jack back of the left rear wheel
and there’s another one in front of the right rear wheel. This
was to keep the engine from working counter-clock wise from the
pull of the belt and hammer of the piston. The separator is
apparently hand-fed and there is no blower – looks like the straw
goes up a conveyor to be mowed away by hand.

Unfortunately, I didn’t copy down the thousand and one other
details my grandfather gave me from time to time, so I will have to
finish up my story by listing a number of philosophical
observations gleaned from a careful study of the picture:

1.   A total of 29 men, women and children are visible
and its a safe bet that everyone had plenty of work to do. As we
city folks understand, nowadays only two people would be involved –
while pa is running the combine, ma is in the house heating up T.V.

2.   There are no fat people in the picture. Everyone
worked long, hard hours, ate heartily, and usually lived to a ripe
old age. We could learn a lot from the old timers in this

3.   You can study the picture and not see a single
T.V. antenna, electric line, telephone pole, wire fence, or rubber
tire. There’s also a refreshing absence of tax collectors and
various other government agents.

I hope this picture will be of interest to some of the other
album readers. I’m only sorry I couldn’t list more facts
and details.

  • Published on Sep 1, 1967
© Copyright 2022. All Rights Reserved - Ogden Publications, Inc.