Centennial 1967 - Look Back to Farm Days

By dhowell - Posted on 03 January 2008

A wheat threshing demonstration—as it was done years ago—was one of the highlights of the Centennial Celebration.

Hundreds of farmers and interested persons drifted to the Clayton Parr farm on Austin Road at the west village limits for the afternoon performance. Camp So-Ber was in charge of the arrangements.

Wheat has always played an important part in Manchester. Its location of the River Raisin was in a way based on wheat. A flour mill was built on the river and around this the community grew.

The lumbering black steam engine had chugged out to the Parr farm. It had been in the Farmer's Day parade, and is owned by the Fox Brothers of Napoleon. Years ago a team of horses would draw the tank wagon to a nearby stream and it was filled with water. During a day of threshing a water tank would have to be filled two or three times—depending on the amount of grain.

There would be coal in the fire box. Threshing coal is something different and all farmers had to have it on hand at threshing time—not only enough to thresh their own grain but to pile on the rig to be used as the steam would furnish the power to move the equipment to the next farm.

It took at least two hours to get the steam pressure high enough to be of use to the threshers.

The Avery gasoline tractor—a later model—was also on display at the Parr farm. This was used in the days of threshing before the combine. These were the days when it took 12 or 15 men to "help out" at threshing.

The grain separator, used at the demonstration, was brought in from the Walter Blumenauer farm in Freedom Township. The separator does what the name implies—it separates the grain from the chaff.

Several farmers used antiquated flails. This was the method used for threshing grain by hand. These consist of a wooden handle at the end of which a stouter and shorter stick, called a swiple or swingle, is hung so as to swing freely. The operation is called winnowing. The process calls for some wind, the cut grain and chaff is dropped and the wind blows the chaff away. The grain falls into a basket.