During the mid-nineteenth century, farmers spent almost every Sunday in church. Many farmers recorded attending church on a weekly basis in their diaries. In 1855, John B. Weeks frequently attended church with family and friends. His diary reveals that the pastor’s sermons were an important part of the service.
Sun 21st Went to Jones Ville Church, Rev Benedict preached from Numbers 32 Chap 6 Verse. We had a verry good discourse the Funeral of Peter H Banta was given out to day 2 o clock at the church. Came home & took a lunch and went back to the Ville to the Funeral Rev Sanford preached from Thes 4 Chap 14th Verse, there were a great many people at the Funeral; Banta left a wife & some young children
In 1862, Lucy Medora Walker, a woman from Springfield (Otsego County), New York, kept a diary. In addition to recording her daily events, “Dora” kept a memorandum in the back of her diary that tracked how much of her money she spent. She earned her money by picking hops.
During school, pupils practiced reading from books called readers. Readers often contained short stories to read and recite. Spelling and vocabulary words, as well as questions to answer about the story, often followed a reading.
Many of the stories in readers reflected the lives that students led. One of the lessons in Cobb’s New Juvenile Reader No. III is about a farmer’s son and the son of a widow. The story also reflects the fact that families had to pay to send their children to school. If a family could not afford school, a child did not attend.
Farmers could learn about transportation services, including boat transportation on canals and rivers, from advertisements placed in magazines, journals, or in this case, the city directory.
James Wedderspoon was an influential farmer in Otsego County, New York, in the late nineteenth century. His family farm was located near Cooperstown. The Wedderspoon farm grew hops, which was a major cash crop for New York State at that time. The 1875 New York State census shows what the Wedderspoon farm was worth and what was growing on the farm in 1874 and 1875.
After the hops pickers harvested the hops into hop boxes, the farmer paid them with tickets. Each ticket represented the number of boxes the worker picked. These tickets are from the Wedderspoon farm near Cooperstown, NY.
Threshing is the process used to separate the chaff, the protective covering around the grain, and the kernel of grain used for food, from a plant’s stalk. Farmers used flails to remove the chaff and grain from the stalk and to crack open the chaff.
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. Some used flails, others used hand-powered machines such as this, and still others used animal-powered machines. Today, farmers thresh primarily with gasoline-powered machines.
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 separate jobs, but machines called “combines” save farmers time by both cutting and threshing in one step.
This combine was patented in 1879. Notice the machine was powered by steam, but the farmer still relied on horses to move the machine through the fields.
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.