Plates similar to this one were popular in the 1820’s and 1830’s. The drawings on them are typically from an artist named James Eights, who accompanied the Erie Canal engineers in 1825, and documented the completed structures by making little watercolor drawings. The drawings were then used later as imagery for some of the plates, including this one.
On October 26th, 1825, the Erie Canal was officially completed. With much pomp and fanfare, Governor Dewitt Clinton made the 10 day journey down the canal, from Buffalo to New York Harbor. At the harbor, Clinton ceremoniously poured Lake Erie water into New York Harbor, officially “Wedding the Waters.”
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.
This image from Benjamin Butterworth’s The Growth of Industrial Art, depicts reaping grain during the colonial period. Reaping had to be done by hand, using a scythe or hay knife to cut the grain. Notice that the whole family helps with the field work.
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.
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.
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.
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. This tractor was originally purchased from R.C. Lacy Ford in Catskill, New York, by farmer Edward Phinney of Jewett, New York.
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.
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 improvement on a single blade because the fingers acted as extensions of the farmer’s arms and made harvesting a little easier.