Rt. 2, Box 7l6 Bridgewater, Virginia 22812
This article is written to help younger generations understand a
segment of how farming was done over a one hundred year period and
to let the older fellows reminisce a bit.
Third generation thresherman and sawyer Cecil Craun grew up on a
farm fronting the old Valley Pike (U.S. 11) in Augusta County close
to Mt. Sidney, Virginia. His paternal grandfather did threshing and
sawmill work in the community and owned a barrel head mill. His
father threshed, sawed, and baled hay. Cecil’s mother’s
family were also machine operators.
Over the years Cecil’s father operated one Geiser, one
Frick, two Case, and two Red River Special machines. These were
powered with a Case 34-54 steam engine and later with a 28-50
Hart-Parr. The largest amount threshed in any one day was 2,300
bushels; the largest amount threshed in any one week was 9,600
bushels. In his best year, he threshed 94,000 bushels total. The
crew generating these impressive totals consisted of six in the
mow, three on the straw rick, and three bagging grain.
At thirteen years of age, Cecil hauled water for the steam
engine with a Model T Ford truck. He would get water from the
spring nearest the farm where the threshing was done.
Father and son threshed wheat in the same barn for the same
farmer for 43 consecutive years. Some of the best yields per acre
on this farm during these years were 49 bushels of wheat and 100
bushels of oats. The Crauns served a large community that extended
from Mt. Crawford to Staunton and Seawright Springs to New Hope,
Through the years of Cecil’s operation he has owned two Red
River Specials, one Frick, one Oliver 33, and one Gleaner combine.
His tractors have included a 28-50 Hart-Parr, and Oliver 99
(overhauled four times), an Oliver 70 Hart-Parr, an Oliver 77, and
an Oliver 55.
During the winter months Cecil baled many mows of hay with a
stationary baler. This hay was sold and loaded out on railroad
cars. He also did custom sawmilling as time permitted.
Recently a farmer told me an incident he remembered about Cecil.
As a boy he was pitching sheaves in a wheat mow while another man
was feeding the machine, evidently a little faster and more
carelessly than Cecil thought was proper. Cecil was leaning against
the tractor with an ear tuned to the threshing machine. He walked
into the barn and stared up at the men in the mow for a moment. He
then turned and slowly walked back to the Oliver 99 and pulled the
throttle open one more notch. Not a word was spoken, but everyone
knew the question was settled.
Cecil enjoys helping anyone who. has problems with steam
engines, tractors, threshing machines, or sawmills. Several years
ago Cecil set up a small sawmill in his backyard where he can get
his 99 out and saw a log or two and relive some days gone by.
I have known Cecil for 25 years and would like for all of us to
share in the tribute to him for the many years of service that he
gave his community.