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Harvest Tales - Rice County 02

Harvest stories submitted by Kansans for the online exhibit, Wheat People.
Submit your own at KansasMuseum@kshs.org.

Byron Patton

Threshing Time: Run-A-Way Team

At one time, Uncle Sid Reese had a team of black mares, each 3 years old, and not really well broke. He was using this team with more than a little pride, hauling bundles for threshing. He had just finished pitching his load of bundles into the thresher, and drove to the water jugs and stopped for drinking water.

Threshing scene, circa 1900

A thunder storm was brewing, with heavy, dark clouds. The rush was on to thresh as much as possible before the storm brought unpredictable delay.

When Sid's brother, Linc, saw Sid stop for water, he called out, "Don't leave those young mares stand alone, I'll send John with a jug." Sid wanted to prove that he could trust his team to stand. He wrapped the lines around the peg on the front end gate of the bundle wagon and climbed down. He was headed toward the cluster of water jugs when a great gust of wind swept through, bringing sudden rain and hail.

All of the horses and mules hitched to bundle wagons and grain wagons jumped and started, but were brought under control by their drivers--all except the black mares. Sid ran hard, trying to climb on the back of the wagon, but the team had gained too much speed, and were in a frenzied run-a-way, with no one to bring them under control. They circled around the threshing area, just beyond any attempt to catch them, then with hail pelting hard from the west, they ran straight east, and plunged through a narrow gap in the Osage Orange hedge row on the half-section line. The horses squeezed through between two trees; but the bundle wagon was too wide and smashed against the trees, a total wreck. The horses were both slashed and bleeding because of the hedge thorns and limbs; and because of the instant stop of the wagon, causing tremendous shock on their shoulders when they broke away from the wagon; and a merciless jerk on their mouths because the lines were wrapped around the peg on the front end gate of the wagon. . . .

First inspection indicated that they might be permanently crippled. . . . but they were back in harness six weeks after the run-a-way.

Byron Patton also submitted Harvesting Wheat, Barley and Oats.

"Harvest Tales" is part of the online exhibit, Wheat People:  Celebrating Kansas Harvest.