Recently the Lawrence County Historical Society received an interesting farming implement. Found in the Lawrence county barn loft of Gene Lewis and completely restored by the donor, this corn drill drew a lot of immediate response and questions. The first thing everyone wanted to know was, of course, how old is it? So the ‘history detectives’ who volunteer for the Society began their research.
They learned that the Indiana Grain Drill was first manufactured in 1865 and continued for a number of years by the Rude Bros Manufacturing Co. in Liberty, Union County, Indiana. The firm consisted of 6 brothers all of whom played a part in the business. The company offered a wide range of “Indiana” implements, including wheat drills, corn drills and hay rakes. Eventually they began manufacturing manure spreaders. They were so successful that the company eventually built manure spreaders exclusively.
This particular corn drill was illustrated in the Rude Bros Manufacturing Co. 1883 Catalogue. The drill was advertised as capable of sowing the seeds at equal distances and proper depth as well as covering the seeds with soil. Before the introduction of the seed drill, the common practice was to plant seeds by broadcasting or throwing them over the soil. This system made it more difficult to weed and harvest the crop. The corn drill increased productivity as less seeds were lost to birds, and with planting done in rows, it was easier to weed and harvest the crop.
We are very proud to have this piece of agricultural history in the museum, and invite everyone to stop by and view it.
As to the personal history of this horse- drawn corn planter made in the late 1800’s:
The Corn Planter was owned and used by Samuel E. Lewis (1872-1950) on the family farm. The farm was originally purchased by his grandfather Jacob Lewis in 1825. The farm is located across the road just west of the original Pepple School location in Section 25 – Township 4 North – Range 13 West.
Samuel’s father and mother (William and Mary Hopins Lewis) were both deceased by the time Samuel was 15 years of age. Samuel later married Lucy Spencer and they had 7 children: Homer (died in infancy), Jesse, Carrie May, Mary, Sacy, Lucy Pauline and Gene.
Special recognition goes to Gene Lewis who spent his entire life living on the farm and kept this planter and the other horse drawn tools of the Lewis family together as a reminder of the family’s past. The donation was inspired by the daughter of Carrie May Lewis “Morris” who has always been proud of her heritage. Thanks to Gene Lewis’s daughter, Josephine Heath, for providing this information.