A treasure restored

Treasures abound everywhere in Iowa, and in the McClelland area in Pottawattamie County it is the Hartwell farm. Dave and Jean Hartwell had a faded photo but wished they could see more beyond the brown haze. The restored photo shows fruit trees in bloom and a good view of the home built in 1908 using a Sears house plan, the second home on the site.

The photo of the whole farmstead taken around 1910 shows an active scene: calves scattered in several lots, a few pigs, a few chickens, and a buggy hitched to two horses in the center. The entrance from the road was changed at some point in time and now leads directly to the small 1906 horse barn in the center. The large barn on the right is gone.

The farm has been in the Hartwell family since 1891. Below is the horse barn, accompanied by a photo after its restoration was completed in 2020.

Threshing #2

What an advertising card this is!

The previous Blog, #28, featured early threshing techniques; here is a new invention for harvesting used in pioneer days. This late 1870s ad for a harvester and binder was a wonder. It was led by two horses and operated by a man in a hat looking like a gentleman farmer. The machine mowed the wheat and tied it in bundles, which were then left to dry in the field before threshing.

Forward to the 1920s in Story County near Zearing. Since the invention of the harvester and binder in the above ad, several machines were invented that speeded up the process.

It’s difficult to see the threshing machine in this photo since the emphasis is on photographing the farmers involved. Near the barn several men are holding white bags for the grain that goes down a tube into the sacks. The straw that was left was moved up the ramp to the loft of this well-built barn with a chain-driven elevator, whose mechanism is not obvious in this photo. Many hands make light work, or lighter work, of a job that would have been dusty and hot.

Did it really take 18 men to do this job? That’s how many are in the photo. The McCormick invention could not accomplish everything, as many men were needed to load the bundles on a rack to transport them to the threshing machine.

Events like this one are important documentation of what farming was like in early days. Today, gigantic air-conditioned combines cut the grain, send it to an attached wagon, and then drop the straw in the field to be baled later.