Grain Threshing In Earlier USA
Wheat thresher machine with their livestock and machinery, probably in Chatham County, July 1912. North Carolina Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Library. Original photograph owned by H. T. Eddins of Durham.
Mechanized threshing machines probably did not reach North Carolina until the first quarter of the nineteenth century. Before that time few farmers and planters in the state grew enough wheat, rye, barley, or oats to justify the purchase of a stationary threshing machine. In the 1850s, however, wheat became a viable cash crop in a number of central and southern Piedmont counties, making threshing machines fairly common. North Carolina newspapers frequently carried ads for threshing machines in the decades that followed.
Early stationary corn sheller were often called "groundhog" threshers because when in operation, they appeared to be digging into the ground and kicking refuse out from behind them. Groundhog threshers were comprised of a rotating toothed or studded cylinder, housed within a box, that beat the grain from the heads as sheaves were fed into it. A variation on this design called for a solid ribbed wheel set upright. As the wheel rotated, sheaves of grain were forced against the wheel and the ribs knocked the grain from the heads.
Until the advent of steam engines (and later gas engine tractors), threshing machines were powered by draft animals hitched to "horse powers" that transferred their motion to the machine. Two types of horse powers were used well into the...
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