The lister was the first significant new tillage tool introduced to this into this Prairie-Plains region and developed there; early used for corn production and later adapted to the culture of wheat. For wheat the listing ideas appeared directly in two forms, the lister drill and listing as a substitute for plowing. It probably inspired part a third procedure, as yet only partially developed, subsurface cultivation. The lister may be described as a double plow with a divided moldboard, splitting the slice and turning half each way. Furrows, usually fourteen inches wide, plowed at a distance of 42 or 44 inches from center to center, left the soil ridged between. Corn was planted (drilled) in the bottom of the furrow and cultivation was accomplished by cutting down the ridge gradually, throwing the dirt around the growing corn. In early age the grain was frequently planted by a separate operation, or the drilling attachment might be built into the machine and the whole process completed at one operation.

     Among the patent records of the sixties and seventies a variety tools appear under different names which had a resemblance but all were recorded under the general patent classification of plow; shovel plows, or cultivators, billing plows, double mold-board plows, clearing plows, furrow or furrowing plows, as well as listing plows. In the early stages the name lister seldom appeared. The word list, if it was used at all, took the form of listing plow. There was a wide variety of shapes in these tools and probably some of them were not intended for the purpose the Kansan came to know as listing. The patentees seldom came from South, a few had Middle Atlantic addresses, but most of them centered in Illinois, especially the implement manufacturing towns of that state, and several in the surrounding states of Indiana, Missouri and Iowa. In the eighties Kansas contributed new

The Culture of Hard Winter Wheat 211


FIGURE I. Hall's furrow Plow [Lister]; Moline Plow Company. Illustrated in The Western Plowman (Moline, Illinois), November, 1882, p. 90. The Listers in figure 2 and 3 illustrate inventions of Kansas farmers of 1880 and 1881. Note particularly the difference in the shape of the share and moldboards in these three figures and compare them with twentieth-century designs.


FIGURE 2. Patent Number 232,689. Lister patent issued to Leonard A. Cooper and Oliver F. Bostwick, Atchison, Kansas, filed April 19, 1880; issued September 28, 1880.

212 Winter Wheat in the Golden Belt of Kansas

patents; in 1880, Atchison; in 1881, Wathena; in 1882, Delphos, Judging from the drawings, some of these tools only pushed the dirt to one side, some only partially turned the slices, but the true lister as it has cone to be accepted, turned the slices over on top of the ridge in such a manner as to cover trash and weeds effectively and not to expose the weeds at the shoulder of the ridge. On some of the early listers, the shape and size of the shares and moldboards were not effective for that purpose and had to be perfected by the process of experience and experiment.

     In view of the importance of the tool, it should be noted that its introduction was unannounced, and its presence was discussed in the press only after it had been used for some years. Professor E. M. Shelton of the Kansas State Agricultural College remarked in the spring of 1881, that listers had been in use in that section for two or three years, which meant the first machines had been introduced about 1878 or 1879.

     On occasion of a trip from Manhattan to Topeka Shelton reported his observations, that between Topeka and Silver Lake a large proportion of the fields were listed. When asked for a description of the lister, he summarized the advantages to be reduction of cost to one-fourth or one-third of other methods, increased yields and greater resistance to dry weather because planting in the furrow placed the roots deeper in the ground. And to meet the criticism so often directed at listing corn, that it was the


FIGURE 3. Patent number 257,876. Lister patent issued to John Longes, Delphos, Ottawa County, Kansas, one-half assigned to K. S. Evans, Springfield, Ohio; filed April 307 1881; issued May 16, 1882.

The Culture of Hard Winter Wheat 213

     lazy man's method, he insisted that it was not necessarily bad or shiftless just because it involved little labor. [1] Some farmers made hard work of the listing by double-listing; they listed the field, split the ridges by a second operation with the same tool, and then planted the corn with a Some farmers made hard work of the listing by double-listing; they listed the field, split the ridges by a second operation with the same tool, and then planted the corn with a separate planter, sometimes even check-rowing in the furrows. Such a procedure was fully as expensive as plowing, harrowing and check-rowing. Full economy in the use of the new tool was enjoyed only by listing and plowing at one operation with the combined lister-planter. As this, method became fully accepted the hyphenated form of the name was dropped and the tool was simply called a lister.

     In 1882 reports favorable to listing came from Saline and Dickinson counties, good results and cheaper. [2] The experience of a Brown county user was reprinted in the Chronicle. He preferred the lister with the drill separate. It was pulled by three horses hitched to an evener that permitted the outside horse to walk in the furrow. [3] He drilled immediately after listing.

     In different parts of the state and in different types of soil the lister was used, with conflicting reports of results, but out of the exchanges certain principles emerged: The lister worked well in sandy, porous, and well-drained soil; in wet years some corn drowned out; in dry years, the corn being rooted in the bottom of the furrow, offered greater resistance to drouth; weed seeds were thrown away from the planted corn in a properly constructed and adjusted tool, making it easier to keep clean; the corn had an even chance with the weed seed while in plowed ground the weed started first; the ridge, crosswise to the prevailing south wind, protected the tender plants and resisted the blowing of the soil. [4]

     The walking lister was widely used during the last two decades of the nineteenth century but available data do not give much indication of the proportion of walking and riding tools. The advertisements of 1883 and later featured the riding lister; first the two-wheel sulkey and in the nineties the three (four) wheel machine and two-row listers. Hall's Furrow plow, a Moline Plow, Company product, was among the first walking listers and had a wooden beam, knife coulter and a subsoiler. Among the riding

214 Winter Wheat in the Golden Belt of Kansas

listers of 1883 and the later eighties were the Eagle Sulky, the Hapgood Sulky, the John Deere, the P. & O. Canton, the Bradley, the Flying Dutchman (Moline Plow Company), and in the nineties, the Emerson, the Rock Island, and the Cassidy. [5] By 1888 advertising was placing emphasis on steel beams which were replacing wood and iron. As compared with the plow and planter process, in Saline county in 1889, farmers were about evenly divided, the listermen mostly double listing their fields; the first time open-listing and the second time splitting the ridges and using subsoiler and planting attachment. [6] In Wabaunsee county the next year all corn was reported listed. In 1895 the Kansas State Board of Agriculture made a special study of corn culture, including a survey of the different plowing and listing procedures and comparative costs. Forty-five of the seventy-seven growers in fifty-four counties preferred listing, and fifteen expressed no preference. [7] The fullest discussion of the evolution of listing for corn appeared in 1902, by T. W. Morse:

Twenty years ago the lister came to Kansas and applied for work in the cornfield. It brought no `character,' and some of the neighbors had even card it was a `make-shift' and 'a lazy man's machine,' but somehow it got job. Like most good `hands,' it had its peculiarities, and there were farms and families with which it could not `get along.' Yet in spite of this, and notwithstanding the inverted pig trough and other clumsy baggage with which it first arrived, the lister found its friends, and it was only a matter of a few years till a majority of the corn-growers in the state were treating it as one of the family.'

     As he pointed out, some had been too zealous in its advocacy the beginning, not allowing for soil differences, and partially discredited the lister. With a lapse of time three-fifths of the producers in the corn area of the state had accepted it. He estimated the cost of single listing at one-third less than plowing and checkrowing, and under favorable conditions the increased produuction at 30 per cent. As the result of experience, the lister pelf had been modified as well as details of its use, and finally a cesspool lister cultivator was invented. "The weed question," He said, "which at first threatened to be the undoing of the lister, now furnishes one of its best arguments." The covering device

The Culture of Hard Winter Wheat 215

on some early listers had pulled the dirt from the edge into the center of the furrow, including weed seed, and made the corn row weedy instead of clean. Quite important was the change in shape of the moldboard, "narrowing the lower part of the moldboard so it turned a full rounded shoulder, covering instead of exposing the weeds and seeds at the surface next to the furrow." Another point was the narrowing of the width of the corn rows from 44 to 40 inches which did away with foul middles by providing better coverage. Cultivating machinery, the sled, one or two row, designed especially for listing, did the rest in achieving the adjustment. Morse argued that regardless of plowing or listing for corn the cultivation methods had been at fault, and that

The lister, where its use was found practical, forced us to begin cultivating at the right time and do it rationally. It brought into existence, and then into use, cultivators that stirred the top soil but did not go deep and by use we learned their superiority. Because we could not plow so deep and fiercely we plowed often, which was better by far. [8]


     The patent office record of cultivator tools reveals conspicuous sectional patterns in the distribution of tools. The Pacific coast made little contribution to cultivation tools. The South emphasized one-horse tools for use between the rows of corn and cotton. The Ohio valley and upper Mississippi valley corn belt stressed two wheel cultivators with four shovels, later six shovels or six discs, which straddled the corn rows. The Central Prairie-Plains, west of the Mississippi river, developed its own peculiar tools suitable to the subhumid environment. When the lister first came into use there was no tool in existence suitable to the needs of cultivating ridges and furrows, with the corn planted in the furrows. It was inevitable and natural that attempts would be made first to adapt conventional tools, the harrow and the two-wheel shovel cultivator. The sections of the harrow were fastened to a plank to prevent them dipping into the furrow, or a plank drag might be used to start the process of leveling the ridges and killing weeds. To protect the small corn from being covered b' falling dirt and clods, two boards were nailed together like an inverted

216 Winter Wheat in the Golden Belt of Kansas

pig trough to drag in each furrow. Unfortunately harrowing off the loose soil often served only to expose the weeds and give them better chance to grow. After the harrow a regular two-wheel cultivator might be used, minus the front shovels, to split the ridges. [9] Some disliked the harrow for the first operation, a Jewell County farmer reporting in 1887 as follows:

There are various ways and implements for cultivating corn. The more common way. . . . is with the common two horse [four shovel] cultivator, without the outside shovels at first, and after this using all four. [10]

     It should be noticed that the first man used the rear, outside shovels in following the harrow, while the Jewell county man


FIGURE 4. Patent number 289,824. Knife-type drag lister-cultivator. The patent was issued to Sharon French, Silver Lake, Shawnee county, Kansas; filed August 28; issued October 11, 1883. Note that this was basically a drag harrow, without teeth, to which knives were attached. The knives were expected to hold it to the furrow as there were no runners, rollers or wheels for that purpose.

The Culture of Hard Winter Wheat 217


FIGURE 5. Patent number 330,143. Knife-type sled lister-cultivator. The patent was issued to John McCandless and Orson King, Randolph, Riley county, Kansas; filed July 15; issued November 10, 1885. The complicated character of the tool, with its combinations of knives and teeth, is a failing that appears frequently in this search for solutions of mechanical problems.

used the inside front shovels to cut the edge of the furrow and shoulder of the ridge.

     During the twenty years 1883-1902 inclusive, the United States patent office issued some 140 patents for cultivating tools more or less adaptable to listed corn. [11] They have been divided, for purposes of this survey, into eight types, one of which is an adaptation of the wheel cultivator where the wheels must necessarily ride the ridge. Of this type there are fourteen tools, mostly with different sizes of shovels on different lengths of shanks to afford wide adjustability to furrows, shoulders and tops of the ridges; others used knife-like cultivator tools in the furrows or

218 Winter Wheat in the Golden Belt of Kansas

on the shoulders combined with shovels, and during the nineties disc combinations appeared.

     Under any variation, however, adaptations of the two-wheeled cultivator, developed for level ground, was a makeshift for ridges and furrows. The lister, as it was being utilized in the subhumid region, was substantially a new tool and called for another, equally original in conception and design, to operate successfully as a companion tool. There were no precedents, the need was imperative, and inventive genius could and did operate freely. Of the seven types of cultivator tools designed especially for listing, one basic requirement was some method of guiding and holding the tool to the ridge or furrow. This was accomplished by the use of sled runners, beveled rollers, or finally, wheels to run in the furrows straddling the corn. A second requirement was to devise effective attachments to kill weeds and to cut down the ridge. The first lister cultivator, identified as such, was patented in 1883 and was a drag harrow with furrow knives. Altogether, during


FIGURE 6. Patent number 367,530. Knife-type sled lister-cultivator. The patent was issued to Orson King and Alfred Morgan, Randolph, Riley county, Kansas; filed June 15, 1887; issued August 2, 1887. Here the same Orson King participated in a simple solution of the problem.

The Culture of Hard Winter Wheat 219

the early stages of development there were eighteen patented tools which employed the sled with some form of harrow teeth, either alone or in combination with knives or shovels. The next type, chronologically, was the sled with knives in different combinations, and sometimes with shovels. Of this type there were fifty-two patents. The sled with shovels was represented by six machines. The beveled or cylindrical roller, either to carry the whole load, or the front of a sled, appeared thirteen times. In such a use of the roller, it rode the ridge primarily rather than the furrow. The tillage attachments were either knives or shovels. The sled with a combination of a disc and a knife appeared nine times. All the foregoing proved to be only experimental and evolutionary, leading eventually to the basic disc-sled type and

FIGURE 7. "The King lister corn cultivator," manufactured by the John Deere Plow Company and sold in 1889. The advertisement appeared in the Western Plowman and South and West, 10 (March 1889) 65.

220 Winter Wheat in the Golden Belt of Kansas

FIGURE 8. "The Cyclone," a knife-type sled listcr cultivator manufactured by A. W. Gabby & Company, Rossville, Shawnee county, Kansas. Advertised in The Kansas Farmer, Mary 18, 1892.

at in turn to wheels running in the edges of the furrow to replace the sled runners. Of the disc-sled type, the first example, in very early the later standardized form, appeared in 1887, but by 1892 only eight had been patented. The wheel-in-the-furrow type appeared first in 1894 and at the end of 1902 there were twenty-

     In all these types prior to the disc, the knife combination was e prevailing tillage attachment. Two kinds of knives and placements were employed, each to meet a particular function. To 11 the weeds on the shoulder of the ridge and cut it down into e furrow, knives were attached between the outside of each finer and the ridge. They might be fastened at the front, middle rear and either to the bottom or to the top of the runner or to a cross-member. If the fastening was to the bottom of the runner, y extended up, outward and to the rear, to cut the shoulder an, the loosened dirt falling into the furrow. If fastened to the of the runner or to a cross-member they extended downward, inward and to the rear, but performed the same function. The second kind of knives might also be attached at the front, middle or rear, but usually at the rear; long knives, two, three or four in number on each side fastened to a cross-member and extending ward with an inward curve at the end which cut and threw soil to the furrow. The ubiquitous inverted pig-trough fender, either of wood or metal, appeared in all sleds to protect the small

The Culture of Hard Winter Wheat 221

corn from being covered. Many of the early sleds were walking tools, the driver being obliged to walk in the soft dirt of the furrow and to develop the art of avoiding stumbling over the pig-trough. In the riding tools the weight of the driver helped to hold the knives in the ground, especially in dry, hard or weedy soil.

     In the disc type of sled, except for the first patent of 1887, there was much fumbling in the placement, number and size of the discs. The example of 1887 and the sleds at the opening of the twentieth century, used three discs on a side, attached at the rear of the sled. In size the discs were relatively small and in three graduated sizes, usually the largest on the inside. The wheel type disc lister cultivator of the twentieth century after about 1905 increased the size of the disc and used only two on a side.

     The geographical distribution of the inventive impulse which produced the lister cultivator is important to the theme of adap-

FIGURE 9. Patent number 338,180. Harrow-type lister cultivator. The patent was issued to George W. Moffett, Frankfort, Marshall county, Kansas; filed January 2; issued March 16, 1886. This was a ridge tool rather than a furrow tool, the two inverted V or pig trough members riding the tops of two ridges.

222 Winter Wheat in the Golden Belt of Kansas


FIGURE 10. Patent number 359,988. Harrow-type lister cultivator. The patent was issued to Rollin Woods, Mankato, Jewell county, Kansas; filed April z8, 1886; issued March 22, 1887. The three harrow sections rode three ridges and were held in place by the cross-member. There were small shovels at each rear corner which cut the shoulder or furrow.


FIGURE 11. Patent number 364,169. Harrow-type lister cultivator. The patent was issued to Cyprian Guenette, Clyde, Cloud county, Kansas; filed July 22, 1886; issued May 31, 1887. An inverted V or pig-trough type, with teeth which are shown clearly, and pairs of knives spread wide at the front to cut the shoulder and a pair of converging knives at the rear to cut the weeds on top of the ridges. These knives are only partially shown in the drawing as reproduced.

The Culture of Hard Winter Wheat 221

tation to a subhumid environment. [12] During the two decades question it centered in the northeast quarter of Kansas and Eastern Nebraska, a few being produced in Iowa, Missouri a Illinois. In Illinois they were often associated with the implement manufacturers. As between Kansas and Nebraska, Kansas inaugurated the movement and dominated, except in 1890 when leadership shifted temporarily to Nebraska. In the nineties, however, the experimentation with wheels and discs, Nebraska pioneer more examples with these features. The high point of this inventive impulse extended from 1886 to 1891 inclusive, but during the nineties it dwindled among farmers, and the big implement companies, recombining and perfecting these basic ideas, came to dominate in the twentieth century. Of this large number lister cultivator patents issued, only relatively few were of practical and lasting importance. Many were excessively complicated. To over-emphasize that aspect, however, would be to miss the lard significance of this movement, which represents a general inventive impulse stemming from the common folk intent upon finding, through their own efforts, solutions of their problems



YearKansasNebraskaIowaMissouri IllinoisWisconsinYear-Total
18831----- 11883
1884---1-1 11884
18853--121 61885
188681--1- 101886
188774-1-- 121887
1888512--- 81888
18896311-- 111889
18906831-- 181890
189172---- 101891
1892221--- 51892
189343-1-1 91893
18941-112- 51894
1895331--- 71895
1896-11--2 --1896
18974----- 41897
18982--11- 41898
189921-2-- 51899
1900-11--- 21900
190131232- 111901
19022-142- 91902
State Total6631141810 1140

     Some farmers made hard work of the listing by double-listing; they listed the field, split the ridges by a second operation with the same tool, and then planted the corn with a Some farmers made hard work of the listing by double-listing; they listed the field, split the ridges by a second operation with the same tool, and then planted the corn with a separate planter, sometimes even check-rowing in the furrows. [1]

Winter Wheat in the Golden Belt of Kansas 224


FIGURE 12. Clippinger's Perfect Litter Harrow. Made by A. B. Clippings & Brothers, Centralia, Nemaha county, Kansas. Advertised in the Kansas Farmer, April 25, 1889.

adapting corn culture to the plains. The inventive fertility of these common men was remarkable and they did arrive finally at important conclusions on mechanical principles which emphasize that true genius lies in simplicity. In no case did anyone hit upon all the essential principles in the proper combination. The ideas came from many men and only after several years were the workable ones assembled into one machine.

     The local newspapers reflected somewhat this inventive spirit, but only in a limited degree and, of course, being in the midst of it they did not have the perspective. The advertisements of the implement dealers reflected the commercial side of the movement. By the end of the century each of the principal plow manufacturers was represented in the field with a lister cultivator in certain cases probably by transfer of the patents of western farmers.

     The David Bradley Manufacturing Company, Chicago, offered a three-row lister harrow pulled by a two-horse team. Each section was made in two segments to fit into the furrow in a V shape. A similar lister harrow was made locally by the Clippings Brothers, Centralia, Kansas. [13] At Rossville a local manufacturer was making a knife sled type of lister cultivator. The John Deere Plow Company had a lister-cultivator named the King which was described in 1889 in some detail: It is well known that corn planted in a furrow by the process known as listing, cannot be cultivated at first with a regular (four) shovel walking

The Culture of Hard Winter Wheat 225


FIGURE 13. Patent number 354,389. A two-wheeled level-ground type of corn cultivator conventional in the Corn Belt as adapted to lister ridges and furrows. The patent w issued to George W. Brown, Galesburg, Illinois; filed March 8, 1886; issued December 1 1886. The inner pair of shovels operate at furrow level, the outer pairs at ridge level.


FIGURE 14. Patent number 354,381. Cultivator shovels for listed ground. The patent was issued to Daniel M. Bourne, Cool, Cloud, county, Kansas; filed July 31; issued December 14, 1886. These shovels would replace the furrow shovels on a cultivator like that the preceding Figure.

226 Winter Wheat in the Golden Belt of Kansas


FIGURE 15. Patent number 32 3,266. Roller cultivator and pulverizes. The patent was issued to Joseph W. Bradley, Wetter, Nemaha county, Kansas; filed August 16, 1884; issued July 7.8, 1885. Each roller was fitted with a series of radial knives having inclined cutting edges of greatest depth at the ends of the roller. The middle of the rollers rode the tops of the ridges.


FIGURE 16. Patent number 362,575. Roller-type lister cultivator. The patent was issued to Samuel W. Decker, Verdon, Nebraska; filed March 14; issued May so, 188?. This tool was held to the furrows by the beveled roller, and knives were used to kill weeds and tear down the ridges.

The Culture of Hard Winter Wheat 227

or riding cultivator, but requires a style and construction peculiarly adapted to this purpose for the first and second times through. This tool is equipped With four adjustable curved blades which slice the earth from the shoulder of the furrows, cutting and covering the weeds and conducting around the plants as much earth as the young corn can withstand.

     Its superiority over competitors was claimed under seven heads; could cultivate younger corn, a boy could operate it, could work different conditions of soil, hold itself in the furrow, could operate as fast as a team could walk, killed weeds at the earliest possible time, and covered twice the ground of an ordinary cultivator. [14]

     In 1893 the Parlin and Orendorf Plow Company, Canton Ohio, offered a sled equipped with knives and shovels; for ridge and furrows respectively. In 1897 the Western Manufacturing Company, Kansas City, Missouri, made a knife sled called the Warner, and the following year presented the Crackerjack, a disc and knife combination. In the latter year the Tuller Cultivate Company, Kansas City, Missouri, and Wichita, Kansas, made disc sled, three discs on a side. [15]

     As late as 1893 the Bradley company was pioneering a modification of the two-wheel riding cultivator, using discs instead of shovels, for either plowed or listed ground. It was provided with three discs on a side, but the front, inside discs, on each side was separate from the other two and these front discs, as a pair, were mounted on one gang and were adjusted independently of the two rear groups on either side. When used as a lister cultivate tool the pair of discs in the front gang could be lowered to furrow level, while the side gangs worked at ridge level. A special low lister hitch was provided also to take the pressure off the necks of the horses the first time through. [16]


     Corn was a basic crop for the American farmer moving into the plains and upon it rested the hog and cattle industries as corn belt farmers were experienced in them. The practice of listing. corn was making possible the westward extension of the corn be into the subhumid regions where it was exposed to dry heat, to-

228 Winter Wheat in the Golden Belt of Kansas

whether with the cool nights of high altitudes and a shortened frost-free growing period. The point of particular biological significannce in this extension is that botanically speaking the corn maize) plant had its origin in the wet heat of tropical America


FIGURE 17. Patent number 462,642. A shovel-type sled lister cultivator. The patent was issued to Willliam F. Hickman, Clear Creek, Nemaha county, Kansas; filed June 18; Issued November 3, 1891. An earlier and somewhat similar sled is patent number 375,944 issued to T. J. McCormick, Whiting, Jackson county, Kansas; filed July 27, 1887; issued January 3, 1888.


FIGURE 18. A shovel type sled lister cultivator made by the Parlin and Orendorf Plow Company. Advertised in the Kansas Farmer, May 3, 1893. This is virtually the same as shown in Figure 17, but uses knives as well as shovels.

The Culture of Hard Winter Wheat 229


FIGURE 19. Patent number 496,884. A shovel-type sled lister cultivator. The patent was issued to Robert Lyons, Peiro, Iowa; filed March ii; issued May 9, 1893. This sled used three shovels on a side, attached to a movable cross-member and adjusted to three levels; furrow, shoulder and ridge.

and it was not naturally resistant to either dry heat or cold. The earnestness and widespread participation of the Kansas and Nebraska farmers in solving the problem of the lister and lister cultivator are ample proofs of how the corn-livestock economy was ingrained into their way of life and how it persisted, even against the odds of climate.

     Wheat was the companion crop to corn in this westward migration of corn belt agriculture and its rival as well. It is not strange, therefore, that the popular creative impulse which was being applied to corn should also be applied to wheat culture. There were fundamental differences in agricultural practices, however, that had to be overcome and they were grounded in centuries of experience in Europe and America. The Indian had developed the basis for the corn system; several grains of corn planted in one place and cultivated by "hilling" the soil around the growing plant. The white man had taken over the idea and developed his mechanization of corn culture on that foundation practice. The European had developed a system for the small grains in which he prepared a level seed-bed, sowed the seed thickly in the soil, expecting the grain to start ahead of the weeds

230 Winter Wheat in the Golden Belt of Kansas

and smother them. The system did not include cultivation of the soil to condition it and kill weeds during the growing period.


FIGURE 20. Patent number 369,492. Disc sled-type lister cultivator. The patent was issued to Joseph Ashenfelter, Liberty, Nebraska; filed July 8; issued September 6, 1887. This was the first design to anticipate closely the early twentieth century model disc sled.


FIGURE 21. Tuller disc-sled lister cultivator. Manufactured by the 'Fuller Cultivator Company, Kansas City, Missouri. Advertised in the Kansas Farmer, April 7, 1898.

The Culture of Hard Winter Wheat 231


FIGURE 22. Patent number 675,431. A two-row disc-type lister cultivator mounted on wheels to run in the furrows instead of sled runners. The patent was issued to Ira Weaver, Springfield, Illinois; filed December 28, 1900; issued June 1, 1901 and assigned to the Sattley Plow Company, same place. The right and left members of the machine as illustrated show different possible mountings of the attachments. On the left side, the discs are mounted at the rear, drawing the dirt into the furrow. On the right side, the discs are mounted forward and turned outward to cut against the shoulder of the ridge; and knives are mounted at the rear to draw the dirt in around the growing corn. There had been a number of patents issued to farmers during the preceding five years for wheel-mounted disc lister cultivators; a good example is Patent number 542,339, to Alfred M. Jones, Elmwood, Nebraska; filed April 11, 1894; issued July 9, 1895. See footnote 16, Chapter 17, for citations to illustrations of twentieth century machines.

of the plant. Incidentally the fact that weeds were mostly annuals gave winter wheat an advantage in the biological struggle for survival. The practice of listing fit readily into the Indian system of corn culture, but had no place in the European system of small grain culture. And yet, the listing method of tillage was highly adaptable to the dry, windy climate of the plains. Two approaches were possible to resolve in part the contradictions between the two cultural systems and to utilize the advantages of listing; to modify the listing procedure in the direction of the European and to modify the European seed sowing practice in the direction of the

232 Winter Wheat in the Golden Belt of Kansas

Indian, and in the outcome to preserve enough of the merits of each to justify the change. The lister-drill for small grains was the result, invented and patented July 17, 1888 by William H. Hollinger (1855-___.) and Joseph W. Gillett, both of eastern Dickinson county. [17] It is usually difficult to establish absolutely the priority of any new invention, but so far as the present author can discover the Hollinger Lister-drill was the first of its kind. [18]

     An independent observer described the Hollinger lister-drill as "an implement resembling the hoe drill in all respects except that the hoes are 11 inches apart, are larger, go deeper into the ground and make a deeper furrow than the hoes on an ordinary drill. [19] None of the descriptions available gave the measurements of the small listers or hoes. The patent office description used the words "the combination of the series of plow-carrying boots, the double-mold-board attached thereto. . . ." [20]

     In 1887 Hollinger had a trial drill built and a number of fields were planted with it. During the winter it was observed that "the ridges between the furrows prevent the snow from blowing away and protect the plant against being blown out of the soil." On the approach of harvest in 1888 the report was printed that the lister-drilled fields would yield 10-15 bushels more than fields sown by other methods. When the Kansas Millers' Association met at Enterprise July 13-14, 1888 the machine was exhibited for the information of the members. [21] The J. B. Ehrsam Machine Company, Enterprise, contracted to build the implements for the fall trade of 1888, and for 1889 the Peoria Plow Company of Peoria, Illinois, built them. [22] Three years later the reports said that Hollinger "had been developing and improving his drill during the past four years. It has proved a wonderful success in the prairie country by reason of the thorough cultivation given the ground and the fine seed bed for the grain." An implement dealer at Grainfield, Gove county, wrote that it would supersede all other drills. At that time the Moline Plow Company was manufacturing it, a car load being shipped every second day and only half the orders could be filled. It was said that prospective purchasers made big offers for his patent. [23] The following year, J. S.

The Culture of Hard Winter Wheat 233

Hollinger, then president of the Abilene National Bank, and father of William H. Hollinger, was reported to have purchase the entire interest in the drill and a manufacturing contract with the Moline Plow Company was continued. Again the emphasis: was upon the success achieved in the Plains counties of western Kansas, and the sales campaign was to be extended throughout the Plains states, Texas, Indian Territory, Colorado, Nebraska and the Dakotas, and to California. The expectation was the business would be tripled that year. A boast was made that If Western Kansas ever makes a success of wheat raising it will the cause of a Dickinson county invention. A hardware man of Meade county says that all the wheat in that section that will amount to anything is that sowed by the Hollinger Lister drill. [24]

     In 1897 the local boast of Abilene was that the "Hollinger Lister Drill is in demand everywhere this year," and the business w still being handled through J. S. Hollinger:

     He is the owner of one of the most popular inventions of the times, and one that the wheat sowers of the state are appreciating this year. It is the Hollinger Lister Drill, and the indications are that a large portion of t wheat of the Western end of the state will be sown with it. The wheat acreage will be the largest in many years, particularly in the western counties, and the farmers are anxious to have the grain put in the grout in a manner that will give it the best possible chance to grow.
     The tests that have been made in the use of the Hollinger drill in the past few years have shown that it has the qualifications for seeding rig] The fields sown with it have produced such large crops that farmers over the west have become its advertisers and are sending their friends for The effect is seen in the increasing orders coming in, and Mr. Hollinger on his desk every day a large pile of mail, all calling for more drills a - asking terms. Scores of those who have used the drill arc sending for other, and each letter says something about the excellence of the implement's work. Western Kansas is particularly anxious for them, and deal, all over that part of the state are ordering from one to twenty-five each The manufacturers are working an extra force of men to fill the orders that Mr. Hollinger is sending them, and the seeding season has not yet commenced. One pleasant thing about the matter is that none of the orders ask for time-all are for cash.
     The drill has small plow-like shoes which make a perfect seed-bed the grain, and then covers it perfectly. It has light draught and is ca< managed. It is the only drill on the market that `lists' in the grain. It

234 Winter Wheat in the Golden Belt of Kansas

really does away with plowing and harrowing and is a bonanza for the farmers of the west end of the state as well as for those of this section, many of whom are using it. Mr. Hollinger is to be congratulated on being the owner of so popular an implement. It promises to grow in favor and become one of the indispensable implements of the west. It is a better investment than a Klondike claim.

     The Wheat boom in western Kansas in 1897 was without precedent and lister-drill business in Rush and Ness counties received particular comment. In Ness county wheat was being sown on every piece of broken land and "some on the prairie sod." In the language of the silver money agitation of the day, they were engaged in the "free coinage of wheat." Enough drills could not be secured. The next year it was the same story, and Hollinger lister-drills were said to be shipped west by the car load. [25]

     Apparently Hollinger still had the right of manufacture of the machine. In 1895, lola had opened its natural gas field and this was hoped to be a solution of the fuel supply for the region which would become the foundation of industrial development. Among the projects of -1897 was one to buy Hollinger's patent and build drills at Iola. A few months later a Kansas City rival was in the field trying to secure either the patent outright or a manufacturing license for the Hollinger drill. Abilene protested that this was too important to let Kansas City handle and that the distribution of the drill should center in Abilene. [26] Hollinger turned it to the Western Manufacturing Company, Kansas City, Missouri, who in 1898 advertised the New Hollinger Grain Drill in two sizes, seven and eight hole. [27] The advertisement claimed a record of three season's use, a limitation which could refer accurately only to a new or improved lister-drill, and no indication was given of the nature of such modifications. Two features are different in this description, however, as the listers were set twelve inches apart instead of eleven, and a special description was given of a grain spreader which distributed the grain in the furrow instead of a single, narrow row, as is done by other drills." The advertisements showed also that the lister hoes were staggered rather than in a straight line as in earlier illustrations. Some new arguments in favor of the drill were presented; that "the grain could be listed

The Culture of Hard Winter Wheat 235

in without plowing. . . as it does its own plowing and seeding at the same time," and that it was possible to cultivate the wheat in the spring by harrowing the ridges the same direction of the Sowing. These final points were proposing to carry into the culture of wheat the same principles that had been applied to corn, and when put into practice in the High Plains section of western Kansas, drew the same charges of lazy man's farming that had been applied to listed corn in the early eighties.

     At the agricultural college, Shelton's experimental attitude toward adaptation to environment led him to inaugurate experiments there in the fall of 1888 which were continued there after he severed his connection with the institution. He reported upon the first year's experience at some length:

     The question whether the advantages claimed for the methods of listing the corn crop have not an application in wheat culture, has long seemed to me worthy of experimental examination. If corn by being planted at the bottom of a deep furrow germinates more surely and better withstands the effects of drouth, thus making sure a larger yield, why may not as much be expected of wheat when treated in like manner? Moreover, the method of listing might be expected to have the additional advantage in the case of wheat that it would almost certainly enable wheat so planted to pass even the severest winters uninjured by winter-killing. Who has not noticed in fields of wheat, more or less completely destroyed by winter freezing, that every plant fortunate enough to have root in some dead-furrow or other depression in the field has almost certainly passed the rigors of winter unharmed? If we put the entire crop beneath the surface, why may it not altogether escape winter-killing? seems at least a reasonable question.
     To test this question, three small double-shovels-miniature listingplows-were secured to the frame-work of a `Buckeye' one-horse drill, in such a manner as to make a six-inch-deep furrow in advance of the three discharge spouts of the drill. The implement thus `improved' put the seed wheat in furrows eight to ten inches deep and about fourteen inches apart. The seed thus planted sent its shoots above ground a day or more in advance of seed sown near by upon the surface. The listed wheat made a ranker and more luxuriant growth, the plants having a much better color than those which grew upon the surface, where the seed had been sown at the same time in the familiar manner. The listed wheat rapidly covered the ground with its dense verdure; in color, height, and apparent vigor, it seemed from the first superior to that which had been seeded upon the surface. Of course, last winter furnished no test for the main question

236 Winter Wheat in the Golden Belt of Kansas

involved in listing-whether the new method of seeding would enable winter wheat to withstand freezing; so I have no report to make on this point. Our listed wheat seemed to show a tendency to lodge, which quite likely it would not show in less stimulating seasons than that of 1889. This experiment has seemed to me to involve a question of great importance to Kansas wheat-growers, but I am compelled to await another season's ex perience before speaking more accurately and positively of the merits of the methods of listing as applied to wheat. [28]

     It should be noted that in this statement Shelton did not refer to the Hollinger machine which had been patented in July 1888 and was manufactured for sale to the public in the fall of 1888, the same fall that Shelton built his own implement on a Buckeye drill. Apparently this was a five-hoc drill and he stopped up alternate feed spouts so as to double the distance between the remaining ones, fourteen inches against eleven inches in Hollinger's drill.

     The next year, 1890, Shelton was gone and Georgeson reported favorably on the second season. It was a dry year and the straw was light and short, so there was no trouble from lodging. It was explained that with a regular drill the wheat stalk grew straight, while lister-drilled wheat was thick in the row, with wide spaces between the rows, a condition which permitted it to spread more widely at an angle from the bottom so that heavy wheat in a wet year was more likely to fall and lodge. The success of 1890 was encouraging, however, and "should further experience bear out the result, it will be a distinct step in advance in our method of cultivating wheat. . . . it seems reasonable to suppose that it will be a success in Kansas in ordinary seasons on all but very low land." The season of 1891 was less favorable in yields because of excess moisture. A new point was emphasized this year, that planting of five pecks per acre made the rows too thick, so the amount was reduced to three or four pecks. [29]

The season of 1892-93 was dry, both fall and spring, and the winter was severe, an unfavorable wheat year. Only the lister and hoe-drilled wheat germinated properly, the lister-planted wheat having the advantage through the winter as it was planted deeper and its roots reached moisture. The listed wheat suffered no winter-killing and made a good spring growth. As in earlier experi-

The Culture of Hard Winter Wheat 237

ments, however, it ripened three days later than hoe-drilled wheat, although the other plots, that had survived, ripened irregularly. In closing Georgeson arrived at an interesting conclusion:

These averages this year are of interest, in that they show that in a dry season it is best to put the seed deep in the ground, as with a lister. But all seasons are not dry, nor unfavorable to the wheat, and I doubt if it would be a good policy to list the wheat in order to be prepared for dry weather should it come, for the reason that in an ordinary season the listed grain has no advantage over drilled grain, and in a wet season it would be at a decided disadvantage. In the three-years average. . . the listed makes the best showing. This is due to the fact that it yielded so much better this year than other methods of seeding. But it also shows that, so far as our experiments go, the listing has done well. [30]

     In 1894 the experiment station wheat was a complete failure and in 1895 nearly so. For the season of 1895-96 the station used for the first time, apparently, a Hollinger lister-drill. The wet season was such that the yields were not favorable to the listed wheat. The experience for the period of years was summarized statistically, the average being only slightly in favor of listed wheat. [31] In making the averages, it should be noted that the failure years 1894 and 1895 were omitted, a procedure so frequently resorted to in agricultural yield statistics. It would be difficult to convince a farmer, who had to pay his expenses for those crop failure years, that this was a legitimate practice. The outcome of these experiments was highly significant in spite of the peculiar conclusions reached, as stated in the report of 1893. The experiment station farm at Manhattan was in the Bluestem pasture region, a transition country, and not in the Plains wheat belt proper. The interpretation of the results were stated in terms of a relatively humid environment, (semi-humid rather than semi-arid) and all


(Yield in bushels.)

1891189218931896 4 yr ave
Listed29.3627.0319.6231.89 26.97
Broadcast32.7824.0310.9532.32 25.02
Hoe drill31.86--14.8333.43 26.70
Shoe drill31.8327.6311.5835.63 26.66

238 Winter Wheat in the Golden Belt of Kansas

but ignored the importance of the significant experience of the one dry year. For the wheat belt further west, where most years were as dry or drier than 1893 at Manhattan, the lister-drill would have a decisive advantage. The Plains farmer experience as reported in the press, even though exaggerated in the spirit of local Abilene pride, was a more accurate index of the significance of the lister-drill as a wheat tool.

     In discussing wheat culture in 1900 in the light of acquaintance with both American and Russian experience, M. A. Carleton, Cerealist of the United States Department of Agriculture, maintained that the ideal drill was probably not yet developed:

     The proper kind of machine when made will possess a combination of features found in both the press drill and what is known as the lister drill. Each hoe of such a drill should operate somewhat similarly to a corn lister, but on a smaller scale, having a broad shovel-like construction above and a short pointed portion below and a little behind, which would be the hoe proper. The shovels should go in about as deep as in ordinary corn cultivation and the hoe proper still 1½ or 2 inches deeper, with a packer of some kind following behind. [32]

     In 1906 a report credited the lister drill with producing the best wheat in Ellis county, [33] but with a succession of years of more favorable moisture interest died out. In the volume Wheat in Kansas, 1920, the State Board of Agriculture published a photograph of a lister-drilled field taken at the Hays Experiment Station Farm, but reported that a survey showed less than three per cent of one thousand farmers interviewed had made the experiment "and these gave no indication of an intention to continue it." In the nineteen-twenties the deep-furrow drill was developed for e similar purpose. With the return of prolonged drouth years of the nineteen-thirties the lister drill returned in varied forms, all the major farm equipment companies having one or more types. One type used a true-shape lister cutting a six inch flat-bottom furrow and scattered the seed over the whole width. The Charles T. Peacock chisel-tool made a V shaped furrow and and planted the seed in two rows, on either side of the furrow, but not in the bottom, In all these types a packer followed the planter. [34] Peacock had

The Culture of Herd Winter Wheat 239

built his first machine in 1927 and received his first patent in 1931. [35] His work is en example of the recurrence, or persistence, as the case may be, of the plainsmen's ingenuity in making his successive adjustments to environment. His was one of the most, if not the most original contribution in its department since the Hollinger patent of 1888.

     The prolonged period of over a decade of predominantly dry years of the late eighties and nineties was disastrous to the Plains, both from the standpoint of livestock and field crops. The grass covering of much of the region was destroyed more or less completely as a result of the drouth, grazing and prairie fires, so that dust storms blew off top soil of portions of the unbroken Plains as freely as they blew off the top soil of the planted fields. The general disaster to the western country resulting from the drouth and the collapse of the boom of the eighties revived the Great American Desert tradition in the public mind. The general dust storms killed livestock and drifted dust over the railroad tracks like snow drifts until train service was blocked at times on the High Plains far beyond the plowed line. The livestock men encouraged the idea that agriculture was impossible in the Plains. On occasion the dust storms were blamed on the farmer whose field blew along the denuded grass areas. Faddists, with new systems for Plains farming aided in condemnation of prevailing practices and out of the jangle of voices come confusion regarding the possibilities of Plains agriculture, both among contemporaries as well as historians.

     The advocates of subsoiling had as their objective to open up the soil to a great depth in order to absorb all the moisture that fell end conserve it against the needs of crop growth. Separate subsoil plows were devised or subsoilers were attached to mold board plows to work below the bottom of the furrow. This school of thought, in enthusiasm for their own system, attacked other tools and methods, and in the following example singled out especially the lister and the lister-drill:

     It is a theory of some old settlers on the plains that the frequent failure of crops in these latter days is due largely to the effect of the wind on the

240 Winter Wheat in the Golden Belt of Kansas

soil. They point to the frequency of sand storms sweeping in fury over the land, to the drifting sand in the furrows, and declare that it was not so in the days when the sod was new-broken, when the life had not been absorbed from the soil by the restless breezes. It is perhaps not to be expected that the same results could be obtained from the soil cropped for a dozen or twenty years as from that fresh from the state of nature; but they forget that the tillage has been such as to abuse the naturally fertile acres and rob them of their plant producing power. Too many farmers never plow deep if they can get along by plowing shallow, others never plow at all if they can list in their corn and use a listed drill for their wheat, or sow it with a cultivator between the corn rows. Subsoiling is a new discovery, yet a few old-fashioned men have been using it for two or three years and have harvested immense crops when their neighbors have been destitute.
     The new agriculture of the west is just beginning . The people are realizing that the way to success in farming is not different from that in business, that thoroughness and concentration win, that effort must be directed aright. [36]

     There were virtues in subsoiling to conserve moisture, but there were also difficulties in bringing up too much wild soil and in exposing the unprotected surface to blowing. The Plains farmers were not all wrong on the other hand in following the shiftless or lazy man's type of farming, and there was virtue even in drilling in the stubble with an ordinary shoe or hoe drill without plowing. The lister drill was still better for the same purpose. The ordinary drill left the stubble on top to protect against blowing, although it was deficient in not preparing the soil to receive and conserve moisture. The lister drill left the stubble on top and provided somewhat toward moisture conservation. It stirred the soil more deeply to receive moisture, planted the seed so that it had a better chance to sprout, grow, and protect the soil surface, and the deep furrows would catch such snow and rain as might fall during the winter. The controversy illustrates again that the best farming of the humid region often became the greatest menace to the subhumid region, while the farmer's shiftless farming possessed a positive virtue on the Plains. The real ,shortcoming of the lister drill, when used without prior working of the soil, lay in failing to kill late summer weeds and to conserve moisture against the time for sowing the seed.

The Culture of Hard Winter Wheat 241

     In a discussion of Plains farming before the Kansas State Board of Agriculture in 1893, the requirements of an ideal Plains tool were described, to keep the trash on top to prevent blowing and at the same time to plow deep: "We should have some instrument by which we can loosen up the ground deep, but not turn the stubble under. [37] The patent office records show a number of machines that might meet this description, but all originated in the several humid sections of the United States and the descriptions do not indicate that they were designed for arid land farming. A tool was designed, however, for the Plains purpose by E.


FIGURE 23. Patent number 492,692. Sub-surface cultivator. The patent was issued to Ruben Miller, Sergeant Bluffs, Iowa; filed October 31, 1892; issued February 28, 3893. This is similar to the Dalton machine in design; another is Patent number 475,843 issued to Robert P. Ashurst, Blackburn, Missouri in 3892. In several parts of the country cultivator shovels were designed on a similar pattern which in the 1920s were commonly referred to as "duckfoot" shovels.

242 Winter Wheat in the Golden Belt of Kansas


FIGURE 24. Underground cultivator. This tool was designed by E. F. Dalton, Chapman, Dickinson county, Kansas, in 1897, and locally was said to have been patented, although the record has not been found.

F. Dalton, a farmer near Chapman, Dickinson county. He used a thin but substantial plow beam similar to that used for a subsoiler, attaching to it a cutting point similar to a lister share, but flatter and with longer wings, in the large sizes cutting 26 to 29 inches. The blades of the share would cut through the soil at any desired depth, lift it an inch or more, thereby loosening it and it would slide off the rear edge, falling back in place without being moved to either side or turned over. The only surface disturbance of the soil would be such as would result from passage of the thin beam to which the tool was attached.

     This "Underground Cultivator" was designed first probably as a corn cultivating tool, but it was recommended equally for preparing wheat ground. In 1897 only a few plows were made, but in 1898 a commercial production was planned under contract with machine shops at Junction City and nearby places. [38] In spite of local praise for this cultivator it did not arouse general interest. As a result of the drouth of the nineteen-thirties, however, the same idea was hit upon again, several implement companies manufactured them and governmental agencies encouraged their use under the name of "Stubble Mulching." [39]

The Culture of Hard Winter Wheat 243


     The search for tillage tools suitable to the needs of Plains agriculture explored the possibilities of rotating or disc machines as contrasted with straight edge tools of the moldboard plow type. The disc idea appeared occasionally in the eighties, but the disc era was really inaugurated after 1895. This is reflected in the patent office records from the standpoint of invention and in the substantial commercial production of the disc machines which lagged a few years behind, varying somewhat with the type of machine. The use of the disc in lister cultivators has been noted. It was employed in corn cultivators and disc harrows. The newest application was the disc plow. An early disc plow patent was that of \\'asili Pichno, of Kiev, Russia, in 1892, but American inventions appeared with some frequency in the late nineties and after the opening of the twentieth century. Soon each of the big implement manufacturers had an offering in the disc plow department. The arguments for this tool were that it tilled the soil by turning it over only partially, leaving the stubble on top, and being a rotary process it could plow ground which was too dry and hard for a moldboard plow, and it required less horsepower to do the same work. The, disc plow was later modified in design under the influence of the tractor, becoming the one-way of the nineteen-twenties.


     It is evident that the evolution of the lister tillage was not a straight line development. All types of alternative tools were explored and the disc type of tool made a permanent place for itself in Plains wheat economy in its own right and also in combination with the lister. There is no record of where the corn lister as a tillage tool was first used as a method for preparing wheat ground or who tried it first. Probably there was no first. The lister had early intrigued the imagination as a Plains tool and this particular use was recognized by the end of the nineteenth century and in a survey of 1901 was reported from five counties, Edwards, McPherson, Pratt, Stafford and Sumner. [40] At that time the use was not yet general, however, and that stage did not come until about

244 Winter Wheat in the Golden Belt of Kansas

1905 in such counties as Stafford and Barton, 1906 in Edwards county and rather generally in other sandy soil counties shortly afterwards. [41]

     The successful use of the lister for wheat ground preparation again was linked with a new stage in the development of the lister cultivator. The two-row lister cultivator on wheels had gained rapid headway after the opening of the twentieth century, but the disc was usually a single disc associated with a cultivator shovel. Alternative disc equipment was made up of small-size discs. The lister cultivator for corn had as its objective the gradual reduction of the ridge and the small discs, shovels and axle bearings had met the requirements reasonably well. The lister cultivator for wheat land had as its objective the complete reduction of the ridge at one operation, "ridge-busting," even a slight reversal of furrow and


FIGURE 25- Patent number 855,372. Ridge-buster for wheat ground. The patent was issued to August E. Wilshusen, Stafford, Stafford county, Kansas; filed May 13, 1905; issued May z8, 1907. Note the wood bearing boxes bolted to the wing castings. In size the discs were nearly double the diameter of the lister cultivator discs such as are shown on Figures 20 and 21.

The Culture of Hard Winter Wheat 245

ridge. Such heavy work required large discs, heavy construction and a new type of axle bearing for the discs, either a wood box or a dustproof bearing with a pressure oiling system. The August Wilshusen sled, manufactured at Stafford, at first a runner sled, put on wheels in 1907, was a pioneer in the field; using large discs and "its everlasting boxing which is so constructed as to never wear out, by reason of its being wooden." [42]

     The superiority of lister preparation of wheat ground lay first in the speed with which the operations could be performed. A fourteen inch moldboard plow turned just that width of soil and no more, while a fourteen-inch lister worked forty inches with the same power. As the soil dried out quickly after harvest if not worked, the lister would provide the first working of the soil at three times the speed of the plow. "Busting" the ridges later in the summer killed the growth of weeds and volunteer wheat and provided the rapid second cultivation of the soil before sowing time.


     The drouth years of 1880 and 1881 had brought the header to the front as the Plains harvesting machine, but in this department as in others, the return of more favorable years caused a partial return to the use of the harvesting practices of the humid environment. In the binder of the eighties, twine had replaced wire and had thereby removed one of the objections to the binder. The basic character of the header was recognized, however, in the persistent efforts to make the area a manufacturing center for these machines.

     The name of C. S. Stickle is woven into the local header story over a period of years. Until the spring of 1882 he had been in the employ of the Randolph header factory of Pekin, Illinois; a Kansas booster article claimed that he had been "foreman and chief inventor." [43] He produced a header under his own name in 1883, built at Pekin, and it was pushed aggressively in Kansas during the season of 1883 and 1884.44 His application for a patent had been filed June 22, 1882, but was not issued until February 5, 1884. [45]

246 Winter Wheat in the Golden Belt of Kansas

     In 1889 the Stickle Header Manufacturing Company at Hays City was incorporated to manufacture and sell the Stickle header. [46] Apparently the project went no further, but in 1891 Stickle appeared again as designer of the Wilson header manufactured by J. B. Ehrsam Machine Company, Enterprise, for the Kansas-Colorado Implement Company.47 The Erhsam Company continued as the manufacturer through the seasons of 1892, 1893 and 1894 600 in 1892; between 1500 and 2000 reputedly for 1893; and some $60,000 worth in 1894. The Wilson company then seems to have collapsed as the result of bad management and its affairs were aired in public as the result of a suit for settlement by J. B. Ehrsam Machine Company. [48]

     Another manufacturing project was the Kansas Harvesting Company, incorporated at Enterprise, Kansas, September z6, 1884. The important personalities were C. B. Hoffman, the miller, and J. N. Prather of San Jose, California. [49] The large scale wheat growing operations in California in the eighties had stimulated there an inventive impulse centering around the idea of a combined header-thresher which was similar to the inventive activity associated with the lister cultivator in the Kansas-Nebraska area. This Kansas Harvesting Company proposed to manufacture what was known as the Cornish Combined Harvester. Also Prather had an elevator and conveyor patent issued November 27, 1883. [50]

     A demonstration of this header-thresher was given on the Hunton farm, east of Abilene in July 1885. The local editor was interested but was apparently not fully convinced when he reported on the experience:

The machine is on the plan of a header with a thresher attached to the left hand side. It cuts and threshes the wheat at the same time. Some three men and eight horses arc required. . . . farmers should see it and judge for themselves whether it is the machine they want or not. [51]

     Little has been found on the activities of the company but there is no reason to believe that it sold many machines. In 1888, however, a story was relayed back to Kansas from California describing one of these machines operating on a big farm there. [52]

The Culture of Hard Winter Wheat 247

     Almost from the earliest settlements on the Prairie-Plains, one of the regional ambitions had been to establish industries to process its own raw materials for consumption and to manufacture many of the things that had to be bought. Lack of fuel for industrialization had been the most vital handicap. To develop a farm equipment industry, both fuel and metals were lacking. In addition, the period of history when this settlement occurred was one conspicuous for the integration of industrial organization. Local attempts at manufacturing met, therefore, unusual difficulties in any case and the odds were overwhelming in fields where the market for the product was restricted, specialized and seasonal, the harvesting process under consideration here lasting not over three weeks out of a year. The header industry could scarcely have been a success even with the best of patents and management.

     The long drouth period of the nineties emphasized the header method of harvesting again and in 1894 the Buckeye binder was featuring a header attachment. [53] The harvest of 1895 was the first for Craver Harvester King, a combined header-binder; a binder attachment on a header as the basic machine, and by the turn of the century, the Deering and McCormick offered combines of this type. In his discussion the emphasis has been placed on the header aspect because that was the aspect that was most significant to the environmental problem. The binder should not be ignored, however, especially in the central wheat belt, the Low Plains as distinguished from the High Plains. The farmer used the binder as it came to him, without modifying it through new inventions, or through adaptation to new uses. The cost of twine and the anti-trust agitation did produce local action, however, and the legislature of 1899 was induced to authorize the building and maintenance of a state twine plant at the state penitentiary.

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1. The Industrialist, Manhattan, May 14, June 4, 1881
2. Salina Herald, January 21, 1882; Abilene Chronicle, April 7, 1882.
3. It should be emphasized that a riding lister operating at full depth required four good horses, and probably part of the difficulty with the lister came from small teams and shallow work.
4. Kansas City (Missouri) Live Stock Indicator, May 3, December 27, 1883; March 1r, 18, 25, April 8, 15, 1886; February 24, 1887; Report of the Kansas State Board of Agriculture, for the Quarter ending March 31, 1887, pp. 24, 25, 27-29.
5. Western Plowman (Moline, Ill.) 2(November 1882) 90; 7(February 1886) 241; 8(March 1887) inside front cover; Abilene Chronicle, April 12, 1883; Marion Record, March 16, 1883; Abilene Reflector, April 23, 1885; Kansas City Livestock Indicator, March 25, April 8, 1886.
6. Saline County Journal, April 4, 1889.
7. Tenth Biennial Report of the Kansas State Board of Agriculture . . . 1895-96, 15: 1-2, the summary; 31-34; 41-49.
8. T. W. Morse, "The lister in Kansas corn economy," Thirteenth Biennial Report of the Kansas State Board of Agriculture ... 1901-02, 18: 818-824.
9. Abilene Chronicle, April 2, 1882; Kansas City (Missouri) Live Stock Indicator, December 27, 1883, reporting from Rice county.
10. J. S. Foster, "Our method of growing corn in Jewell county," read before the annual meeting of the Kansas State Board of Agriculture, January 12-15, 1887. Report of the Kansas State Board of Agriculture for the quarter ending March 31, 1887, p. 25
11. The Official Gazette of the United States Patent Office gives brief descriptions and drawings of these tools. As all tillage tools are classified by the patent office under plows, with a limited number of subclasses such as cultivator, the new tools, such as a lister or lister-cultivator, were not recognized officially as subclasses and, being new, the inventors did not agree on names. It is impossible, therefore, to be certain that all the tools designed for this purpose or adaptable to listing have been found, and some on the list may not properly belong there, but the more doubtful cases have been discarded, and the margin of error is reduced to the minimum.
12. See Table, Chronological and Geographical distribution of lister-cultivator patents.
13. Kansas Farmer, April 25, 1889. A cut of the latter is printed.
14. Western Plowman and South and West, Moline, Illinois, 10 (March 1889) 65. The name suggests that this might have been the patent of Orson King and Alfred Morgan, Randolph, Riley county, Kansas, No. 367,530, issued August 2, 1887. In any event it was essentially the same machine. Orson King had shared in the patents of two other lister cultivators.
15. Kansas Farmer, May 10, 1893; May 6, 1897; April 7, 1898. 16 Enterprise Journal, May 3, 1894.
16. Illustrations of listers and lister-cultivators as produced at the opening of the twentieth century are conveniently available in the Thirteenth Biennial Report of the Kansas State Board of Agriculture . . . 1901-02, 18:819.823 and the Fifteenth Biennial Report . . . 1905-06, 20:207-216; 224-258.
17. Official Gazette of the United States Patent Office, 44: 244. The application for the patent had been filed March 18, 1887.
18. William H. Hollinger, the eldest son of Joseph S. Hollinger (1830-1900), was born in Pennsylvania about 1855 and was 32 years of age when he received his patent.
19. C. C. Georgeson, "Experiments with wheat," Bulletin 59, Experiment Station, K. S. A. C., Manhattan, August 1896, pp. 97-98.
20. Official Gazette of the United States Patent Office, 44: 244, Patent No. 386,128.
21. Kansas Miller and Manufacturer, Enterprise, June 1888 Enterprise Independent, June 21, 1888.
22. Enterprise Independent, June 21, August 23, 1888. Abilene Reflector, March 7, June 27, August 15, 1889.
23. Abilene Weekly Reflector, September 1, 1892.
24. Ibid., January 19, May 25, 1893.
25. Ibid., September 9, November 25, 189;; August ii, September 1, 1898.
26. Ibid., November 25, 1897; February 3, 1898.
27. Kansas Farmer, September 22, 1898.
28. E. M. Shelton, "Experiments with wheat," Bulletin No. 7, Experiment Station, K. S. A. C., July 1889.
29. C. C. Georgeson, "Experiments in wheat," Bulletin No. 20, Experiment Station, K. S. A. C., July 1891.
30. C. C. Georgeson, "Experiments in wheat," Bulletin No. 40, Experiment Station, K. S. A. C., August 1893, pp. 53-54.
31. C. C. Georgeson, "Experiments with wheat," Bulletin No. 59, Experiment Station, K. S. A. C., August 1896, pp. 97-98.
32. M. A. Carleton, "Successful wheat growing in semiarid districts," Yearbook of the United States Department of Agriculture, 1900, pp. 529-542 at 538-542. He presented the same argument in somewhat different words in "Wheat improvement in Kansas," Thirteenth Biennial Report of the Kansas State Board of Agriculture . . . 1901-02, 18: 505-516 at 511.
33. Ellis County News, Hays, May 4, 1906.
34. Information on the commercial tools is derived from the printed literature of the several companies. Information on the chisel-tool was obtained from the inventor Charles Peacock, Arriba, Colorado, by interviews in 1936 and correspondence since then. His system of farming is described in a pamphlet Textbook on Methods and Implements, (The Plainsman's Association of Colorado, Denver (About 1938]).
The John Deere Plow Company began the manufacture of his machine in 1937 as the John Deere No. 751 Damming Lister.
35. Official Gazette of the United States Patent Office, 408: 543. The application was filed September 16, 1930 and the patent issued July 14, 1931.
36. Abilene Reflector, May 23, 1895.
37. Discussion following the paper of J. L. Finley, "Possibilities of wheat raising in Southwest Kansas," Report of the Kansas State Board of Agriculture for the quarter ending March 31, 1893. pp. 65-69
33. Chapman Standard, April 29, June 3, 1898; Abilene Reflector, June 16, 1898. 89 Topeka Daily Capitol, March 15, 1942.
40. "Reports of Kansas wheat growing experience and practice, by counties," Thirteenth Biennial Report of the Kansas State Board of Agriculture ... 1901-02, 18: 573-632.
41. Stafford County Republican, Stafford, August 31, 1905; July 26, 1906; Great Bend Tribune, July 27, 1906; James C. Malin, "The evolution of a rural community, Wayne Township, Edwards county," The Lewis Press, June 1 to July 6, 1933.
42. Stafford County Republican, Stafford April 6, 20, June 8, December 7, 14, 1905; December 20, 1906; January 12, August 29, October 21, 1907. Official Gazette of the United States Patent Office, 128: 1633; patent no. 855,372 was granted to August E. Wilshusen May 28, 1907, Filed May 13, 1905.
43. McPherson Independent, February 7, 1883.
44. McPherson Independent, February 7, May 16, 1883; Newton Kansan, May 23, 1883; Abilene Chronicle, May 9, 1884; Junction City Union, June 21, 1884.
45. Official Gazette of the United States Patent Office, 26:538.
46. Kansas Miller and Manufacturer, August 1889, p. 9. Kansas Corporations, 36: 232. Charter Filed June 25, 1885. These charter records have been deposited in the Archives Department, Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka.
47. The contract with Ehrsam was dated November 1, 1891. The incorporation of the Company took place apparently soon after with James L. Wilson, Salina, the patentee as President, John Schlyer, Hays City, Vice-President, and E. H. Wilson, Denver, Colorado, the son of J. L. Wilson, as Secretary-Treasurer.
Enterprise Journal, January as, 1892; Saline County Journal, February 11, 1892; Enterprise Journal, December 6, 1894; Hays Free Press, February 27, 1892.
48. Enterprise Journal, March 3, June 23, 30, 1892; May 25, June 1, 29, 1893; December 6, 1894. Abilene Weekly Reflector, July 7, 1892.
49. Kansas Corporations, 17: 608-9. The capital stock leas increased from $30,000 to $60,000 December 24, 1886. Another corporation, apparently a successor to the above, was incorporated November 1, 1887 under the name The Kansas Combined Reaper and Harvester Company, Enterprise, Kansas. Senator Preston B. Plumb, Emporia, was included in this company. Corporations, 30: 257.
50. Official Gazette of the United States Patent Office, 25:860.
51. Abilene Reflector, July 23, 1885.
52. Kansas Miller and Manufacturer, January 1888, p. 3.
53. Abilene Weekly Reflector, June 15, 22, 1893; June 14, 1894.