Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

October 9, 2013

Harpoon fork was at Cull's Ridge sale in 1914


Greensburg Daily News

---- — I suppose you know what a harpoon fork and a double A harrow is and what they were used for.

I didn’t, but I had fun finding out. June Tumility gave me a sale bill from Feb. 12, 1914 announcing that Nathan Cull would sell a lot of his property at public sale. Sure, some of them are self explanatory but it wasn’t as simple in some cases.

The sale bill reads: “At my farm on Cull’s Ridge, three miles southwest of Locust Store. The following property: 1 good work and brood mare, 2 work horses, 1 extra good milk cow, 1 yearling heifer, 1 extra good yearling shorthorn male calf, 1 road wagon, 1 buggy, 1 mowing machine, 1 self-dump hay rake, 1 two-horse sled, 1 Double A harrow, 1 good hillside plow, 1 corn crusher, 1 good hay frame, 1 sets of work harness, 100 feet of hay rake, 1 harpoon fork. A lot of corn fodder, household and kitchen furniture and many other things too numerous to mention.

Sale begins at 10 o’clock. Terms of sale, - All sums of $5.00 and under cash in hand. All sums over $5.00 a credit of nine months will be given without interest, purchaser executing bankable note. Nathan Cull. J. H. Driskell, Auctioneer.”

It seemed like a generous offer from Mr. Cull to give a credit of nine months without interest. I found several people named Cull in the census and at the time the sale happened Dry Ridge was pretty much just a rough road. It’s now a fine subdivision near Bedford, KY in Trimble County.

The county is named for Robert Trimble who was an attorney and justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. He was born in West Virginia but came to Kentucky to study at Transylvania College and died in Paris, KY in 1828.

In 1914 Mr. Cull obviously farmed using horse power. Although a steam engine tractor had been built and a gasoline traction engine built before 1900, farmers still used horses. Mr. Cull had a brood mare that also had to work although I thought that a brood mare was used only for producing baby horses.

Do you think that anyone living on an Indiana farm now would know what a hillside plow is? Truth is, I had never heard of such a thing, but assumed it was a plow that could plow on a hill. Kentucky is very hilly in many areas. I learned that a hillside plow let the farmer shift the plow sideways. Apparently it had some piece of equipment that would allow him to move the plow according to how steep the hill was. The great thing about being able to move it was that a person could plow to the right, then change the direction and plow to the left on the return. What it didn’t explain was how the horse managed to adjust to the hill.

The “Harpoon fork” sounded like a mighty dangerous piece of equipment. I checked online for this one. Here’s what it told me, “This word doesn’t usually appear in our free dictionary, but the definition from our premium Unabridged Dictionary is offered here on a limited basis: The Harpoon Fork is a kind of hayfork consisting of a bar with hinged barbs at one end and a loop for a rope at the other end, used for lifting hay from the load by horse power.”

The Double A harrow mentioned in the sale bill is “an agricultural implement consisting of many spikes, tines or discs dragged across the soil.” The picture shown didn’t have spikes or tines but did have big round disks that the horse pulled across the earth. A double one had one set of disks that went one way and another set in back of the first one that went the other way. That would surely broke up the earth better than a single harrow.

(I knew that the Battle of the Harrow was the first battle of the Irish Rebellion in the last part of the 18th century. Such knowledge has done me little good over a lifetime. Knowing what a Double A harrow is would have been far more useful.)

I never learned what a road wagon was or how it differed from a plain old wagon. I did learn that a spring wagon was used for moving things, similar to a covered wagon. The Internet tried to confuse me with information about station wagons and hatchbacks. I didn’t fall for it.

I hope Mr. Cull got good prices for his property. I am grateful to June Tumility for sharing the sale bill.