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<November 2015>

by Maureen A. Taylor

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# Sunday, June 17, 2012
Family Photos Shared at Jamboree: Threshing Wheat
Posted by Maureen

I love going to genealogy conferences. The people, the photos and the stories all add up to a fantastic experience. For the last four years I've trekked out to California for the Southern California Genealogical Society Jamboree. It's a regional conference with a national feel—a big program with nationally known speakers.

Every year, folks stop by to show me their photos. Some people come back each year and as you might expect, friendships develop. 

Here's a picture of Mildred "Millie" Vander Hoeven and me at Jamboree in 2010.


Millie stops by to chat and share stories of her childhood. She's sent me pictures of her childhood and her parents.

Family photo collections are an amazing array of people portraits and other types of pictures. These next two images of Millie's show men threshing wheat. I need to chat with her to get a bit more information. 



Can anyone—perhaps someone familiar with farming—comment on what the crews are doing in these photos? Click Comments below to share your thoughts.

Solve your family photo mysteries with these books by Maureen A. Taylor:

  • Fashionable Folks: Bonnets and Hats 1840-1900
  • Preserving Your Family Photographs
  • Fashionable Folks: Hairstyles 1840-1900
  • Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album

  • Genealogy events | occupational | unusual photos
    Sunday, June 17, 2012 2:57:07 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [6]
    Thursday, June 21, 2012 7:36:15 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
    I think that it is quite clear that they are harvesting wheat somewhere in the west. Look to the right of the thing that the men are standing on and you can see the cutter...a water wheel like thing that is very long.

    As to the second photo I think that is where they are gathering either the wheat bundles or stacking the stalks after the wheat kernels are removed. You can see what appears to be a conveyer that leads up to the top of the left most pile (where a man is standing) and there is dust drifting off to the right from the top of the thing.

    Below the big pile there seems to be a lot of stacked bags....full of wheat?

    Certainly would be nice if these photos could be presented in a format that would allow me to enlarge them.

    Bill Dalton
    Thursday, June 21, 2012 8:25:32 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
    As Bill pointed out in the top photo they appear to be harvesting the wheat. And yes, all those horses are hooked to one combine.

    In the bottom photo if you look closely you will see a threshing machine (see wikipedia for a good photo of this type of threshing machine "" ) which is used to separate the grain from the stalk and husks. It was usually a big event and would involve large threshing crews that would come in during the wheat harvest. The farm wives would prepare meals for the entire crews. I'm too young to remember these threshing crews but have heard my parents talk about them.

    The large pile on the left is grain that has been separated from the stalks. As Bill pointed out you can see stacks of sacks of wheat that has already been bagged. The stalks that are left over from the threshing process would normally be used as straw. The large stacked piles on the right are either harvested wheat that has not yet been threshed or is the leftover stalks from the threshing process.

    I will have to ask my Dad to be certain but I think the tripod looking contraption in the photo was used with ropes & large claw/hooks to lift large bundles of harvested wheat.
    Lorri Eastin
    Thursday, June 21, 2012 9:37:48 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
    I have some photos of a thresher up close. They belonged to my great-grandparents. Do you want me to email them to you?
    Friday, June 22, 2012 12:05:08 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
    The comments are correct. They are cutting wheat in the first photo. From the hills, I would guess that this is probably in the Palouse region of Washington and Idaho. The wheat was shocked (bundled) and hauled to a stationary thrashing machine where the grain was separated from the straw. The thrashing machine was moved from location to location by oxen or horses. As Bill says, the photos would be better if we could see enlargements.

    Mike Miller
    Mike Miller
    Monday, June 25, 2012 2:47:39 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
    Thank you all for commenting on these wonderful photos!
    Tuesday, June 26, 2012 5:55:37 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
    I think in the first photo the horses are pulling a binder which cut the grain and tied it into a bundle. Someone would walk behind and prop up several bundles on cut end to make a shock. After it was all dried out a bundle wagon would be filled by using a pitch fork to throw the shocks up on to the wagon. The shocks then were thrown on the conveyor belt which fed them into the thresher itself. It separated the grain from the straw and each shot out of it's own chute. The straw chute could be adjusted to height of straw pile as it grew. Grain chute would dump in to a wagon or, in the case of this picture, was fed directly into bags and sewn or tied up. Threshing machines were stationary, and combines were pulled through the field. That's the difference between the two.
    Cindy Horning
    Comments are closed.