Cornhusking was once an annual autumn activity on many Nebraska farms. Before the advent of the mechanical corn picker, most of the crop was harvested by hand and “shucked” in the field. This called for extra hired men, whose only tools were pegs or hooks strapped to their palms.
A labor shortage in the fall of 1906 hampered the corn harvest in some parts of Nebraska. “Northern Nebraska farmers are crying for cornhuskers,” said the Norfolk Weekly News-Journal on November 2. The paper on November 23 said: “Some farmers in this section are paying as high as five cents per bushel and board, for corn husking, although the general rate being offered is four cents per bushel. At this wage the cornhuskers are making from $3 to $4.50 and $5 per day in the field.” Such wages for cornhuskers were said to be the highest yet paid in Nebraska.
Read more about the cornhuskers of 1906 and J. D. Calhoun’s earlier reminiscences about cornhusking in Franklin County in Timeline columns on the Nebraska State Historical Society website. — Patricia C. Gaster, Assistant Editor for Research and Publications