Primary Sources Database
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Reaper – Patented 1855
By the mid-nineteenth century, farmers no longer had to reap entirely by hand. Machines made the work of harvesting go more quickly. This Self Raker Harvester was patented in 1855, to help farmers bring in their harvest.
Milwaukee Line Advertisement
Railroad companies competed for business, including shipping freight. Farmers relied on the railroads to carry their agricultural products to customers in other parts of the state, as well as other states in the country.
Freight Voucher
Farmers transported their goods to markets and customers in a variety of ways. Shipping freight by train became very popular during the nineteenth century.   Cooperstown & Charlotte Valley R.R. Co. Freight Voucher, November 6, 1896. Fenimore Art Museum Library, Cooperstown, New York, Ephemera-transport-RR.
Ford 871 Select-O-Speed Tractor
In 1907, when engineers at Ford first began designing a motorized agricultural machine, they referred to it as an “automobile plow.” Tractors would revolutionize farming in the twentieth century. The Ford 871 Select-O-Speed was a state-of-the-art tractor in 1959. Rated at 45 horsepower, it had ten forward speeds that could be shifted on the go. … Continue reading Ford 871 Select-O-Speed Tractor
Flail Thrashing Machine
Threshing, also spelled thrashing, is the process used to separate the chaff, the protective covering around the grain, and the kernel of grain we use for food, from a plant’s stalk. During the nineteenth century, farmers used a variety of methods to remove the chaff and grain from the stalk and to crack open the chaff. … Continue reading Flail Thrashing Machine
Residence of Marshall A. Fairbanks
The Fairbanks family moved to Evans, New York (Erie County), in 1832. Marshall Fairbanks was born to John and Mary Fairbanks in August of 1835. They lived in a frame house on one hundred acres of land. They grew wheat, oats, barley, buckwheat, corn, potatoes, bran, and apples, as well as making maple molasses, wine, … Continue reading Residence of Marshall A. Fairbanks
Sempronius, New York
This map has been edited to show the location of the creamery in Sempronius (Cayuga County), New York.
Woman Operating Three Hinman Units
Companies that made agricultural equipment often stressed how efficient their machines were. This photograph from a trade catalog demonstrates that by using the company’s milking machine, one woman can do the work of three milkers.
Ripley, New York
In 1804, Alexander Cochran, an immigrant from Ireland, purchased the first track of land from the Holland Land Company in Ripley, New York, located in Chautauqua County on Lake Erie. He and his three brothers farmed for a living, and their families continued to farm the same land in Ripley for the next two hundred years. … Continue reading Ripley, New York
Milk Pans
During the nineteenth century, the woman of the household was usually responsible for making cheese and butter. She would set milk out in pans to separate the cream from the milk. The thick cream would rise to the top of the pan, and she would skim it off. The cream was used to make butter.
Combine — Patented 1879
In order to harvest grain and process it to be used for food, farmers must cut the grain from the field and separate the grain from the plant. Cutting the grain in the field is known has harvesting or reaping. Separating the grain from the plant is known as threshing. Harvesting and threshing were two … Continue reading Combine — Patented 1879
New Cow Barn, Fenimore Farm
The Main Barn at The Farmers’ Museum began as a cow barn at Fenimore Farm, owned by Edward Severin Clark. The stone barn had stanchions for eighty cows, enameled stalls, two silos for hay and grain storage, and a separate stone creamery for processing the milk. The barn’s grand opening included a celebration on June … Continue reading New Cow Barn, Fenimore Farm
Grain Cradle
To harvest grain, the crop was usually first cut, then the grain was separated from the stalk or body of the crop. Grain cradles were used for cutting and gathering the crops. The long wooden “fingers” of the cradle gathered the straw as it was cut and deposited it in piles. The cradle was an … Continue reading Grain Cradle
Lintel
Frames on windows hid the cracks where windows were attached to a house and prevented drafts from coming through those openings. The window frames in the More House are decorated with large, fancy lintels to impress guests who might be invited to the house.
Church Bell
The church bell called the community together for worship and marked events taking place at the church, including weddings and funerals. Everyone in the community, whether they attended church or not, heard the bell at least once per week. When someone died, the bell rang once for each year of the person’s life. Life-cycle and family … Continue reading Church Bell
Hoe Washington Press
This Washington-style press was the type used in many printing offices that farmers visited. Printers could print any number of items on this press, including almanac pages and newspapers, important to farmers.
Wallpaper
Wallpaper from the early nineteenth century is rarely found in complete sections today. These two samples are small but offer historians an idea of how early Americans decorated their homes. While we often think of early objects having dull, drab colors, the section of paper on the right shows how brightly colored some wallpapers were. Sunlight, smoke, soot, … Continue reading Wallpaper
Ceramic Prize Cup
This ceramic prize cup was awarded to someone for his or her accomplishments in raising chickens, ducks, turkeys, or other birds. This cup was probably used as a prize at a county fair or agricultural exhibition.
Chopping Knife
Blacksmiths often made or repaired items that farmers used in their homes. A blacksmith made the metal blade on this chopping knife and attached a wooden handle as well.
Porch (Todd’s General Store)
A trip into town for a farmer would usually be planned in advance. Farmers would bring goods to trade that had been made or grown on their farms. The porch at a general store served as a loading dock for goods they were purchasing, as well as a place to unload what they brought to … Continue reading Porch (Todd’s General Store)
Harrow
After plowing, the large clumps of dirt needed to be broken up in order to level the field. To do this, a farmer would have used a harrow like this. The harrow would have been pulled by a strong horse or a pair of oxen. This harrow is called a folding A-frame harrow because of … Continue reading Harrow
Milking Stool
Milk was a very important resource for a farmer in the nineteenth century. With little meat available, dairy products such as butter and cheese were the best way for people to get protein in their diets. Cows had to be milked twice a day. During the mid-nineteenth century, milking was done entirely by hand. Farmers sat on … Continue reading Milking Stool
Diary of Marshall Fairbanks – October 29, 1878
From the years 1878 until 1888, if not longer, Marshall Fairbanks kept a daily account of life on his farm in Evans (Erie County), New York, including his accounts of the weather, money coming in and out, and any other events of interest. He wrote about driving into Buffalo to sell crops and about laborers … Continue reading Diary of Marshall Fairbanks – October 29, 1878
Diary of Marshall Fairbanks — October 28, 1878
From the years 1878 until 1888, if not longer, Marshall Fairbanks kept a daily account of life on his farm in Evans (Erie County), New York, including his accounts of the weather, money coming in and out, and any other events of interest. He wrote about driving into Buffalo to sell crops and about laborers … Continue reading Diary of Marshall Fairbanks — October 28, 1878
Diary of Marshall Fairbanks – July 16, 1878
From the years 1878 until 1888, if not longer, Marshall Fairbanks kept a daily account of life on his farm in Evans (Erie County), New York, including his accounts of the weather, money coming in and out, and any other events of interest. He wrote about driving into Buffalo to sell crops and about laborers … Continue reading Diary of Marshall Fairbanks – July 16, 1878
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