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A short story by Etta Belle Walker

Valley Inventions

Title:     Valley Inventions
Author: Etta Belle Walker [More Titles by Walker]

The Valley of Virginia has often been termed "the granary of the South." It is no wonder that farmers from time to time have tried to shorten their labor in the wheat fields by inventing machines to do their work.

The name Robert McCormick means little or nothing to most of us, yet on his farm, Walnut Grove, near Lexington he made repeated attempts to invent a workable reaper. His son, Cyrus, had watched with growing interest each of his father's undertakings. His regrets must have been as keen as the elder McCormick's when they realized one May morning in 1831 that the clumsy machine could not replace the hand scythe and cradle.

Cyrus knew something of machinery and determined to improve his father's poor invention in time for the next harvesting. During the intervening six weeks he stayed in the workshop as much as the busy growing season would allow and secured the ready help of a slave boy, Joe Anderson.

In July when the wheat was ready to harvest Cyrus and his father moved the machine out to the field. There a crowd of neighbors gathered and watched with fascination as the reaper cut six acres of wheat during the day.

McCormick continued to improve his invention and other farmers risked their money in purchasing the first six he offered on the market. Eventually the news spread to the grain fields of the Middle West and he opened factories to supply the farmers there.

For years the inventor strove to improve the reaper; he discovered that other labor saving devices were needed equally as badly, and he offered other types of farm machinery to the rich farm lands.

Inventive genius lay near Lexington along other lines, too. It was near here that James Gibbs invented his common sense stitch sewing-machine which was a forerunner of our more modern models. And what a labor-saving machine that was to all the housewives!

[The end]
Etta Belle Walker's short story: Valley Inventions