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Harvest Tales

Southeast Kansas

Coffey County

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

Glenn M. Busset

Harvests in Coffey County

The first remembrance came as a pre-schooler in Coffey County, Ks. I begged to go to the top of the gentle hill beside the stone house that my grandfather built on his homesteaded land (about 1858). I had heard the steam whistle blowing a mile away, and could not bear waiting until the Case 25 and the Woods Brothers 36" separator came into view. My father had been working at the neighbors for days before, and said that the rig would be coming our way before noon. Breakfast was hardly over before I was begging my mother to allow me to go out in the dirt road and watch from the hilltop for the marvelous machine to appear. To my four year old mind, threshing was the highlight of my year. It was the noisy steam engine and especially the shrill whistle that I dreamed of days before and remembered long afterward that made threshing the most important thing that could happen to a farm kid.

The second vivid remembrance came when I was 14 and drove away from the farm by myself for the first time. I had a team of quiet old mares hitched to the bundle wagon, and the best three-tine bundle fork I could patch together. I had helped around home of course, but there simply is no feeling like going out to a strange farm away across the creek all by myself for this entry into the mysterious world of men. Perhaps I was premature in doing so, because I was small for my age and somewhat shy, but there was little choice. My father had died the year before when I was 13, and someone had to take a turn with the threshing, in order to have others come when the thresher reached our farm.

Social scientists speak of the rites of passage, and this was mine as it must have been for many youth in Kansas in the 1930's.

Glenn Busset also submitted Harvests in Thomas County.

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