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Gruver area farmers plan threshing bee

By Staff | Aug 29, 2008

Above are Chuck Gardner with father, Virgil, and Charley Cheever.

Remember the days when the big, hulking threshing machines were a part of the Iowa prairie harvest?

If you don’t, you shouldn’t feel bad. Except for special demonstrations and exhibits, threshing is as much of a part of yesterday as nickel Cokes and bamboo fishing poles.

Starting at 1 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 7, Chuck Gardner and Charley Cheever of rural Gruver plan a first-ever threshing bee on Cheever’s farm two miles east of Gruver. Both Gardner and Cheever planted a few acres of oats and were pleasantly surprised to get an 800-bushel yield.

For Gardner, the threshing bee has a special significance. They’ll be using the same 1928 Avery 32-inch belt-drive threshing machine that his great-grandfather, James Henry McGregor, used and the same model tractor that his great-grandfather used as well.

Rich Harris will bring a team of Belgian draft horses to haul bundles and there will even be ice cream made with a John Deere one-cylinder motor.

This is a photo of Chuck Gardner’s great-grandfather, James Henry McGregor, using the 1928 Avery threshing machine. Gardner will use the same machine for a threshing bee Sept. 7 at the Charley Cheever farm two miles east of Gruver.

If you’ve ever threshed, or seen it done, you know of course that it just doesn’t happen overnight.

Cheever’s father-in-law, Don Burgeson, and brother-in-law, Steve Burgeson, both of Armstrong came over during the Emmet County Fair and cut both fields with a John Deere binder and Allis Chalmers tractor. The oats were then shocked and given two weeks to “sweat”. Cheever loaded up 11 wagonloads of bundles. The oat straw will be baled.

The Avery is in very good shape, considering its age. Gardner’s great-grandfather kept it inside except during threshing season.

James Henry’s legacy lives on with many area descendents, a number of whom will be at the threshing bee. They include Forest ‘Bud’ McGregor of Buffalo Center, James Henry’s oldest surviving child. Margaret McGregor Carlson, James Henry’s daughter, resides at Valley Vue Care Center in Armstrong and has a son, Don.

Another daughter, Lucille McGregor DeVary, now lives in Estherville and her children include Richard DeVary, Dolliver; Denny DeVary, Gruver; and Jane DeVary Mein, Gruver.

Chuck’s father, Virgil, is the son of another daughter of James Henry, Grace McGregor Gardner. Other surviving grandchildren of James Henry include Jimmy Lee McGregor and Kathy McGregor Graves.

In the event of heavy rain, the threshing bee will be held the following Sunday, Sept. 14.