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Harvest Tales - Clay County 03

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

William B. Thomas

Changing Technology

I worked on a number of crews, at $1 to 1.50 per day, pitching wheat bundles from the stack into the thresher. This was from 1930--when I graduated from Clay County Community High School--through 1932. . . . The first combine in our neighborhood was a horse-drawn machine bought by Bert Fisher, who farmed a few miles east of Morganville. I do not recall the year, but it would have probably been in the late 1920s. It was very cumbersome, took several teams of horses (or mules) to pull it, and wasn't used for very many years. Small, tractor pulled combines soon followed--about a five or six foot cut. The self propelled machines came along a number of years later. . . .

I was away from farming from 1933 until 1946. . . . I was appointed county agricultural extension agent in Hamilton County, Ks., just in time to see the 1946 harvest. By then, the self propelled combines dominated the scene--and within a few years replaced most of the tractor drawn machines. . . .

Since the 1940s the changes of course have been in refinement of machinery, and development of much larger machines--with headers five to six times (or even more!) the size of the earliest models. Threshing capacity has increased much more than that.


William Thomas also submitted Rattlesnake in a Wheat Bundle.

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