According to John H. Cochran, pioneer and early civic leader in Dallas County, Texas, here is an account of the McCormick reaper. The earlier pioneers had to use primitive methods to make meal for bread, some had steel mills, others had to resort to mortars and pestle. They had to cut their wheat and cradle and bind it into bundles by hand using some of the straw for bands. A good cradler could cut two acres of wheat a day and a good binder could bind two acres a day.
Until the country was supplied with horses they threshed their wheat with a stick called a flail. After there were horses enough in the country, they tramped it out with horses, using wooden pitchforks to separate the straw and wheat, and winded the chaff from the wheat until the early fifties when Jeramiah Sherwood of Millwood,became agent for McCormick’s reapers, and supplied the country with them. Millwood was once a thriving community with a gin, mill and even had its own post office. It was located east of Wylie and south of Lavon.
These reapers cut the grain and caught it on a platform behind and on which a man with a wooden pitchfork rode and raked it off into bundles. It took five good binders to bind or tie the grain as fast as it was cut and piled. This reaper was used until the close of the Civil War when wire binders were introduced which materially reduced the cost of labor; but did not give satisfaction as in threshing, the wire was mixed with the straw and was soon scattered over the farms. This was, however, the binder and header, which are in use toady.
From the book, “Dallas County” which was written by John H. Cochran in 1928.
Photo: Those featured in photograph with McCormick reaper have not been identified.