One of my favorite photos that my cousin Jayne Schmidt Robinson allowed me to scan yesterday is this one of a team of men working a threshing machine in a field.
[Click on any photo to enlarge or download.]
Once it was scanned I could zoom in on it with the computer, and I recognized that the boy standing on the threshing machine (with a red dot on his chest made with a pen) was my great-grand-uncle Louis Schmidt:
I also noticed that the wagon on the far right of the photo said “Meuret & Schmidt”:
So, this was apparently a partnership between my great-grandfather Wilhelm Schmidt and a man named Meuret. Next I found the 1901 plat map for Weston Township in Marathon County, Wisconsin and noticed that my grandfather owned some land in the middle of the township, but also 80 acres in the south of the township which was listed to “J. Meurett & Wm. Schmidt”:
I checked the census records and I found an entry in the 1910 census for nearby Schofield, Wisconsin which showed a John Meuret, a French immigrant, and his son Joseph Meuret, who was listed as a “fireman” on a “threshing machine”:
The fireman on a steam train was the person in charge of stoking the boiler. Joseph was only 9 years old in 1901, so it’s perhaps an older brother of his running the steam engine in this photo. John Meuret Sr. had 9 children, 7 of which survived, according to the census.
If you look closely you can see that the “tractor” is actually just a steam engine on wheels, You can see the wood piled in front of it to stoke the boiler, and a barrel with water to put inside that will be turned to steam. The engine is powering a big pulley that, in turn, runs a very large belt that’s providing the power to the threshing part of the operation.
There are three men with wagons who are hauling the straw (and likely grain) generated by the threshing. If you look at the photo of Louis, there are three other men on the machine, one of whom has a huge oil can in his hand, so they are probably the team in charge of operating and maintaining the thresher. Then there are six men with pitchforks who are moving the straw into piles and into wagons. A rather large operation!
I think the man running this wagon is my great-great-grandfather Wilhelm Schmidt: