Monday, July 21, 2014

Shelling Corn

Shelling Corn
Shelling Corn

Postmark: MONROE NEB JUN 24 1911 5 PM
Mrs Mary Brunken
Lahoma Oklahoma
Dear Friend 
Thanks for that card.  All right it is a dandy.  My it looks as though Hilda grew a whole lot since I saw her last.  We need some rain here now.  It is quite hot and dry.
best regards from Julia.

Who's Who

  • "Julia" is probably Julia E. (Henning) Tessendorf.  Julia and her husband, Gustave F. "Gus" Tessendorf, raised Lucia (Petersen) Griepentrog's  husband, William Griepentrog, after William's parents passed away March 1905.  The Gus Tessendorf farm was in the next section west of the Carsten Petersen farm, so Julia was a close neighbor during the years Marie was growing up.
  • "Dear Friend", "Mrs Mary Brunken" is Clara Marie (Petersen) Brunken
  • "Hilda" is Hilda Ida Brunken, daughter of Mary Brunken.

Picture Story

A custom crew is shelling corn.  Like the early thrashing machines, a farmer could not afford to own one for his private use.  Instead an entrepreneur (or a cooperative) owned the equipment and hired a team of men to custom shell corn on farms. The machine in the picture is a Sandwich Corn Sheller[1]. While I was not able to make out the "SANDWICH" label on the side of the machine,

the machine is readily identified when compared to images of the Sandwich Sheller[2]

and the associated Sandwich Stationary Engine[3] that powers the sheller

The ears of corn were harvested at the end of the summer and stored in the corn crib with wooden slats. In fall - cool weather, the corn was taken from the crib, in this case by horse drawn wagons

and fed to the machine input conveyor (not seen in this view) to shell the corn kernels from the corn ears. The corn husks and corn cobs were piled with the refuse conveyor.

The separated corn grain came out the top of an elevator on the side of the sheller.


From the postmark, the date is June 24, 1911.  Julia says " It is quite hot and dry." Normally corn is shelled in the fall/spring when the weather is cooler - See the heavy clothing that the men in the picture are wearing. The picture was likely taken the previous fall, 1910.


The postmark is Monroe, Nebraska. Possibly this picture was taken on the Gus Tessendorf farm.


  1. Loretta Sorensen, "Collecting Sandwich Equipment", August 2009.
  2. A sketch of a mounted Sandwich belt corn sheller machine can be seen at the Farm Collector web site:
  3. A Sandwich mounted stationary engine that powers the sheller machine can be seen at The Farm Collector web site: