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As you go thru your old photos, do you ever find some that need more of a story to go with them? That’s my case with photos my grandmother handed down of my grandfather’s threshing machine. Unfortunately, my grandfather didn’t live to tell me stories of his very interesting life and I didn’t get many details about the thresher from my grandmother.

Based on the photos, my grandfather operated two different threshers. One was horse driven and the other was steam driven.

Edward Osmund Briles’ horse drawn thresher
Edward Briles’ steam engine thresher and automobile
Edward Briles and wife Pauline on steam engine thresher

To try and learn more about my grandfather and his threshers, I turned to Kansas newspapers. Since my grandfather lived near Crandall and Vernon, Kansas at the time, I searched both Coffey county and Woodson county newspapers.

The article, “Little Threshers Doing the Business” in the 10 Jul 1919 issue of The Daily Republican from Burlington Kansas helps date the transition from horse drawn to steam driven threshers.

Little Threshers Doing the Business

The small threshing machines which were sold this summer to groups of farmers around Burlington are proving successful. These threshers are pulled by tractor engines which any of the farmers own and use for other purposes. Many of the tractors were sold along with the threshers.

Some doubt has been expressed as to whether or not the small machines would handle the heavy straw this summer and also whether or not there would be enough power in some of the smaller tractor engines to pull the machines when handling the long straw but Mr. Sherwood, manager of the Burlington Hardware Co., which concern has sold about 40 of the machines stated this morning that the machines were working in full force threshing from 500 to 500 bushels a day depending on their size and that no difficulty has been experienced by the heavy straw. in most instances the small threshers were bought by groups of 4 or 5 farmers who have wheat land in the same neighborhood. One of the machines is now in operation at the Mike Russell farm, one at Robert King’s, one at L. K. Prokop and one on the John Kennedy farm. All are doing first class work. Other machines are scattered over the county. Mr. Sherwood predicts that eventually a large part of the wheat will be threshed by smaller community owned machines.

Details about my grandfather’s threshing machine are sketchy, but local news items do indicate that he ran a threshing machine.

There are two threshing machines in this neighborhood. Osmond Briles is threshing for Mrs. L. E. Crandall and Ira Edwards for Jess Lippe.

“Crandall,” LeRoy Reporter (LeRoy, Kansas), 19 Sep 1919, page 8, digital images available on Newspapers.com

The 6 Jul 1923 issue of The Yates Center News (Yates Center, Kansas) indicates that Osmond and his brother Glenn Briles were threshing in the Vernon area.

Vernon News

Osmond and Glenn Briles expect to begin threshing sometime this week.

“Vernon News,” The Yates Center News (Yates Center, Kansas), 6 Jul 1928, page 8 available on Newspapers.com.

The role of the women in the family during threshing season are mentioned in the 3 Aug 1923 issue of The Yates Center News.

Vernon Items

Orean Briles helped Mrs. Glenn Briles cook for threshers one day last week.

Mrs. Jud Cope and Mrs. Earl Smith helped Mrs. E. G. Briles cook for threshers Friday and Saturday.

“Vernon Items,” The Yates Center News (Yates Center, Kansas), 3 Aug 1923, page 8 available on Newspapers.com

Another mention was found in the 15 Jan 1925 issue of The Neosho Falls Post (Neosho Falls, Kansas).

Vernon Gossip

Osmond Briles is threshing in our neighborhood this week.

“Vernon Gossip,” The Neosho Falls Post (Neosho Falls, Kansas) 15 Jan 1925, page 1 available on Newspapers.com

An article in the 18 Jul 1929 issue of The Neosho Falls Post indicates that Osmond Briles owned two threshing machines.

Working Hard to Save the Wheat Crop

Osmond Briles has had both of his threshing machines running almost continually to save the wheat crop in the bottom farms. He reported Wednesday morning that almost all of the wheat on the south side of the river had been threshed. In many instances it was necessary to pull the machine thru water several feet deep to get to the fields. Altho no rain has fallen here for over a week the river has continued to rise slowly.

“Working Hard to Save the Wheat Crop,” The Neosho Falls Post (Neosho Falls, Kansas), 18 Jul 1919, page 3 available on Newspapers.com

The last mention I could find of Osmond Briles’ threshing career was in the 3 Jul 1930 issue of The Neosho Falls Post (Neosho Falls, Kansas).

Philmore Items

Osmond Briles threshed wheat for C. R. Grant on the E. B. Moore farm Saturday. We were informed that the wheat yielded well and was a good quality.

“Philmore Items,” The Neosho Falls Post (Neosho Falls, Kansas), 3 Jul 1930, page 4 available on Newspapers.com.

These newspaper articles provide another glimpse into the business life of my grandfather, Edward Osmond Briles.

One thought on “Thresher

  1. Threshing machines really confuse me. I watched one powered by horses in South Dakota. The machine was stationary. The horses were driven ina circle to work a bunch of gears that provided power to the machine to thresh the grain. A steam engine would have done something similar. But these threshing machines sound like they were worked by being pulled. Did I get that right?

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