PIONEER THRESHING RIGS
A man named Woods did probably run the first rig known to have threshed grain in the Watson community territory. And simultanteously with Woods one Aaron Clark went around with a horse power rig drawn by some hungry looking horses doing the first threshing jobs for the pioneers. That is right, Clark also carried a shot gun on his rig, and when threshing was not so good in those days, which often happened, hunting was always excellent and then Clark let his threshing outfit wait while he walked out in some nearby slough and shot himself a few ducks.
Then John F. Silvernail owned a rig in partnership with William Crane, but they were hustlers. They pulled into some stacks on a farm north of Watson one evening, but, they would not walt until morning, they had to start threshing that evening. They set the rig in a jiffy and started the five teams to trotting around the horse power and they had threshed out exactly one full two bushel sack of grain; when, bang! and something had busted in their separator. Then they unhitched and drove to Chippewa City where the nearest blacksmith was located. They returned sometime during the night and worked until morning repairing the separator, but they threshed the next day.
The following year Silvernail and Crane had sold this rig and Silvernail and Theodore Johnson bought a new rig in partnership that they had ordered shipped to Benson. When they went to Benson to get this new rig they got Tom Amundsen to go along with his team so they were three men and three teams. Theodore Johnson's team did not amount to much but he would never admit that he had any weak horses. Tom Amundsen hitched his team on the Separator and started out. John F. Silvernail hitched his team on the power and pursued Tom; and Theodore Johnson came tugging along after them with the tool wagon. They had gone way south from Benson when they to their surprise upon looking back discovered that Johnson was nowhere in sight. They stopped and waited, and waited, until he finally caught up.
"What's the matter with your team, can't they keep up?" inquired Tom Amundsen.
"It's not the team, it's the heavy load. I am hauling the heaviest load in the outfit." replied Johnson.
Then they let Johnson hitch his team on the horse power and they started again. But it was not long before Johnson's team was all in again and they had to stop. Then there was some more conversation during which Tom managed to half convince Johnson that being that the Separator was nothing much but an empty wooden box it might not be so heavy as it was high; and he finally got Johnson to hitch his poor team on the Separator. Then, of course, as was expected Johnson could not even get his team to move. That settled the arguments about the merits of the different teams and they finally got home with the threshing rig.
After Silvernail and Johnson had run this rig one season they sold it to Amund Amundson, John B. Oyen and Arne Pederson, and these three pioneer threshermen threshed in the Watson community territory for several years. They even went so far away from their homes to thresh little jobs here and there that they did not get their own fall plowing done, one fall, for next years crop. None of them could say No, to an appeal for help!
The Amundsen-Peterson-Oyen Threshing company threshed for Knut Knutson the year after they bought the Silvernail-Johnson rig. They started on four wheat stacks near Knut's granary one afternoon and Knut was going to do the grain measuring and grain hauling. Amund Amundson and Arnt Pederson did the feeding and attended to the running of the Separator, and Oyen was the driver on the horse power. The rig started running but Knut had not brought any wagon or team for grain hauling to the Separator. When he got one sack ruled he hung an empty sack on the measuring device while he run over to his granary and emptied the full sack.
In those days they measured the grain out of the separators in half bushel measures, which required a lot of extra stooping and work, but Knut rigged up the grain measuring apparatus to suit himself. It was not long tho, before Amund Amundson who liked fun went over to the phenomenal grain hauler and tried to get him interested in conversation in hopes that Knut will forget himself and dump some grain on the ground, but Knut refused to get absent minded. Then Amund called for more speed and they threshed to beat the band for a while, but it did not help any for Knut sped up too and instead of taking one sack at a time to his granary he now picked up one in either hand as if though they were peanut bags and emptied them into his granary. They claimed that Knut carried away every bushel of wheat out of those four grain stacks without any help whatsoever, and they spoke of this physical strength and endurance stunt with great respect afterwards. Another Pioneer thresherman in the Watson community territory was Christian Kanten who even went over into Lac qui Parle conty and threshed for some of the earliest settlers.
THE HORSE POWER THRESHING MACHINE
Say, can you remember the threshing machine
That was used in the pioneer days?
The horse power driven machine that was seen
On the farms, and its cumbersome Ways?
With its tumbling rods, knuckles, and chains, and stakes,
And the horses that walked in a ring,
And the power's big wheels, and pinions, and brakes,
And the threshing machine that could sing?
And do you remember, the feeders also,
Those who fed the machine through the day,
With grain bundles hand-cut and ready to go,
How those feeders worked hard for their pay;
When bundles they shoved with a rhytmical swing
At the revolving cylinder's maw
Where they fiashed out of sight like lightning on wing
To appear in the form of new straw?
And do you remember the boys who then cut
All the bundles ere bundles were fed,
And how bundles pitched by some erratic nut
Often hit the young boys In the head?
The self-feeders were not yet known in those days
And the feeding was all done by hand
With pitchforks they pitched away straw, a long ways,
And built straw stacks, high, handsome and grand.
And can you, old timer, to end with, recall
All the work with those horse power teams,
How we unhitched, unharnessed, and fed them all,
By the light of the full moon's cold beams?
Soon all horse power rigs gave way to the steam,
After steam came the tractors we see,
But there will be work for the trustworthy team
No matter what tractors there be!