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History of The First Swedish Pioneers

By: C. J. Johnson, 1915


First Harvest in the Swedish Settlement and Kind of Machinery Used to Cut the Grain.

In 1869 the first wheat was harvested, the grain being grown in the Otter Creek valley. Before this time what little wheat had been harvested was cut with a cradle. Mr. David Ludvig Johnson, who had been farming some years in Minnesota, cut some grain for his neighbors, as well as his own using a machine which was called a dropper. Mr. Johnson drove the machine, to which the team was hitched, and another man sat on the platform in the rear, and with a hand rake in hand, raked off the platform when there was enough for a bundle. The grain dropped onto the ground and the hands who were binding the grain came behind and bound it into bundles, shocking it later. This was a wonderful machine to see as there had never been a harvesting machine in the settlement before. When the grain was ready to be stacked it was another new thing with which to become acquainted. Farmers in Sweden and especially in that part of the country from which we came, never stacked the grain out of doors and had never seen a grain stack built. I noticed on one occasion near the place at which we were staying a grain stack in the process of building, but the bottom was too wide and in order to get any shape for the stack and a good top, there were twenty-eight big loads of grain hauled to the pile before it was completed. This was my first experience and there was too much hard labor in it.

That kind of a harvesting machine did not live long. By that I mean that there was something better coming onto the market. Improvements and progressions are always coming and before long there was another harvesting machine for sale. This time it was a machine called a self rake, which raked off the platform when there was grain enough for a bundle to be tied. It required five hands to follow this machine and bind the grain in order to keep up with it. The price of the new machine was three hundred and ten dollars, but the farmers rejoiced because of the improvement, the makes represented being Walter A. Woods, Buckeye and McCormick.

Progress was, however, still being made and in a few years another machine was built which was called Mars harvester. It was a stunning invention and its appearance occasioned great rejoicing among the farmers as it was advertised as only needing two men to attend to the binding of the grain, thus saving the three men used when five were required by the old way. Also, the men who had the binding in hand might stand on the machine and work instead of being compelled to walk as before, and a great deal of time was saved, the men being able to work all the while.

A few years the progressive work went on until it brought us down to times when the Walter A. Wood company manufactured a machine which cut, elevated and bound the grain and laid the bundles nicely on the ground ready to pick up and shock the grain. This machine used wire to bind the bundles and there were many stories told about its drawbacks, the idea being that the straw could not be used to feed the live stock because the wire in it would kill the animals. This was simply a scare, however, as the writer bought one of the first wire binders which was sold and experienced no trouble with the wire. The price of this harvester was three hundred and ten dollars and cut only five feet in width.

A few years later the manufacturers made and sold another machine which bound the grain with twine, but the machine was not perfect until a few years later when a binder came out as we have it now, in all its perfection, and instead of cutting five feet wide, there are machines which will cut twelve feet wide. They are used in the states west of us where small grain is raised to a great extent. This machine is equipped with bundle carriers. A great many improvements have come for the harvesting machine since the old dropper was first used. Having related the customs of interest concerning the harvester, we now turn to another subject.

About 1870 Andrew Norelius moved to Kiron with his family, Carl Erick Engberg came from Moline, Ill., Carl M. Linman and family, A. F. Lindgren and wife, Swan N. Sandstrom, John E. Baker,Sr. , John Olof Lindblom, A. Erick Norlander, Herman Ericksson with their families arrived, the latter two coming from Minnesota, Olof and Charles Meelin, H. Hanson and Andrew Johnson coming from Brooklyn, N. Y. Peter Johnson and family, Olof Berg and C. Ludwig Hamren also came at this time.

There were some other old settlers at this time, but I do not remember just when they arrived. They were John Youngren, John Sandberg, ChristChristenson, Julius Johnson, J. F. Rahm and a few others.

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