Walnut Grove Reaper

One of the fun things that exists on Twitter are archives hashtag parties. Someone picks a particular date and time and a theme giving museums/libraries/special collections/archives a chance to dig out or take photos. They then cockily send them back and forth with the hashtag so people following can find a lot of cool things they’d probably never see any other way.

The Reaper

This entry was sent out by the Library of Virginia.

Walnut Grove is the name of Cyrus Hall McCormick‘s family farm in Rockbridge County, Virginia. It was on this farm that McCormick and Jo Anderson developed a reaper. You can visit the place today. The information I found also recommended the book The Century of the Reaper by Cyrus McCormick.

Modern Farm Equipment

In Little House in the Big Woods Laura describes Pa harvesting with a scythe. The late 19th century saw a big step forward in mechanical equipment for farming. One of these was the reaper. A horse-drawn reaper would go through a field of grain (oats, wheat, etc.). The cutting bars on the front have metal teeth (like those for the mowing machine that Laura and Carrie fetch from town and then get lost in the slough) and paddle wheel sweeps the cut grain on to the platform behind that then the person working with the machine could then tie into bundles to create a shock. The entire stem of the individual stalk is cut off.

Separating the grain from the stem, etc. is a separate process. Both the more basic flail (Farmer Boy) and the threshing machine (Little House in the Big Woods) are described in the books. Combines – machines that combine the functions of a reaper and a thresher into one machine – later took over but generally not until the 1930s. It was only in the second half of the 20th century that they became the self-moving vehicle of today.

Walnut Grove Creeper

Although I knew the story of McCormick – my family have always been strong International people – I didn’t realize his farm was called Walnut Grove so it gave me a bit of a shock when I first saw this Tweet. I was so glad to find another – if slight – connection between Laura and agriculture history.

I must admit it made me think of “The Creeper of Walnut Grove,” too.

Sarah S. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many times at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. She is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales fighting to bring the History, Mystery, Magic, and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. How can you help? Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast,   look at her photos, and find her on  Facebook ,  Twitter ,   LinkedIn ,    SlideShare,  and Academia.edu . Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and former director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.

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Sarah Uthoff - Trundlebed Tales

Sarah S. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many times at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. She is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales fighting to bring the History, Mystery, Magic, and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. How can you help? Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, look at her photos, and find her on Facebook , Twitter , Google+, LinkedIn , SlideShare, and Academia.edu . Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and former director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.

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