Robert Stwalley, Crawfordsville, was only a young boy, but he can still remember a very special day in July of 1934. There weren't too many things to look forward to in those days of the Great Depression, but this was a day the young lad wouldn't forget.
His dad had ordered a brand new Huber 40-62 tractor, considered a big tractor for its day. He had also ordered a threshing machine to go with it. The equipment was made by the Huber Tractor Company in Marion, Ohio. It came to Crawfordsville, Ind., on a rail car on the Pennsylvania Railroad.
"I still remember getting upset because I wanted to get up on the tractor while it was still on the train car and they wouldn't let me do it," he jokes.
The tractor and thresher became the heart of a threshing ring operated by his father Merton, and Robert's uncle, Louis. It was known as the Linden 1,000 acre threshing ring, Stwalley recalls.
"Actually, Uncle Louis Conrad ran that one and my dad ran smaller rings at Darlington and Shannondale with a Huber 20-36. Still, they were partners.
"There was a certain way the bundles had to go into the thresher to make it work the best," he recalls. "If someone didn't do it right, my Uncle or dad would tell them about it. They would get right up there and throw in bundles themselves most of the time."
The last year for the threshing ring was 1948. After that, combines took over and there was no need for a reaper and binder, and then shocking and throwing the bundles into a separator. Combines actually appeared on the scene in the 1930's, but many people resisted for a long time. When horses went out, the threshing rings went out too.
Today, Robert, his wife, Nancy, and Teresa Sutherlin, Uncle Louis' only grandchild, are the remaining descendants of two men who once operated big-time threshing rings in western Indiana.