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Harvest Tales - Clay County 01

Harvest stories submitted by Kansans for the online exhibit, Wheat People.
Submit your own at kshs.kansasmuseum@ks.gov.

William B. Thomas

Rattlesnake in a Wheat Bundle

I am the first grandson of William "Bradley" Thomas, who homesteaded the southwest quarter of section 3,7,3 in Hayes Township, Clay County, in 1870. . . . He used to relate to me first harvesting wheat with a cradle--which was swung by hand, much like a scythe. [The scythe-cut wheat] was hand tied, [using] strands of wheat, into bundles for shocking. He still retained the ability to hand tie bundles this way . . . in the 1920s! . . .

He often related an incident when he was working with a wheat threshing crew on a neighboring farm, probably around 1880. At that time . . . a man was stationed beside the [threshing machine's] elevator, with a sharp knife to cut each twine tie as the bundle moved past. Two men who were loading the bundle wagon in the field found a rattlesnake. They thought they'd give the twine-cutter a scare by putting the snake they thought they'd killed in a bundle so the cutter would see the snake just as he reached over to cut the twine tie. The rattlesnake, unfortunately, was not dead, and had recovered sufficiently to strike the wrist of the twine-cutter. The trip to get him to Clay Center to a doctor, by horse and buggy--7 miles--took an hour or more and he was deathly ill by that time. Fortunately, he did recover.

William Thomas also submitted Changing Technology.

"Harvest Tales" is part of the online exhibit, Wheat People:  Celebrating Kansas Harvest.