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Harvest Tales - Rice County 03

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

Byron Patton

Harvesting Wheat, Barley, and Oats in Kansas After 1900

In 1902, my Dad, John Patton, spent the summer working for the Reeses, his mother's family. Their farm was 4 miles NE of Chase, Rice County, in central Kansas. One of John's uncles was Linc Reese (named for Abraham Lincoln) and his brother Sidney owned a threshing machine and steam engine. They contracted extensively to thresh wheat, barley, and oats for other farmers beginning about July 1, and ending about Dec. 1, and quite often worked several miles from home. They hired help to keep their own farming going at home. . . .

Threshing scene, circa 1900.

By 1928, I was four years old, and often urged Dad to tell about those earlier years, sometimes as we sat on a spring seat on top of a wagonload of wheat, pulled by a team, going four miles to market at an elevator in Chase. During those many trips, about 1 hour each way, Dad told me, and answered my many questions about harvesting, threshing, and especially about horses.

At the age of 10, in 1934, my turn came to learn about binding and threshing oats from a firsthand point of view. At 16, in 1940, I used one of our teams and a bundle wagon to follow the threshing circuit around our neighborhood. Continuously for twelve days, I returned work to neighbors who had worked, or would work, for us. I slept on straw on the wagon at night, with horses tied alongside with enough rope that they could lay down for rest.

Dad bought his first tractor pulled combine in 1928, harvesting wheat and barley, and eliminating about 80% of our harvest with a binder and thresher. We had no more use for a header.

Byron Patton also submitted Run-a-way Team.

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