Six years ago, I created a family book for Orpha Erickson, my mother-in-law’s 90th birthday that told the history of her family from the immigrant generation until she and my father-in-law married. I had collected a lot of information, but decided to check out any other resources that might give a better picture of each family member.
My biggest find for that project came one day when I did a Google search for her grandfather, Joseph Duhachek. He had died before she was born and the family didn’t talk about him, so she had almost no knowledge of him.
Joseph Duhachek, born in 1849 in Bohemia, came to the United States with his family in the early 1860s and grew up on an Iowa farm. He married in Iowa and later moved his family to Nebraska. Both states offered great farming soil, so I have not found a reason for his move.
In 1903, while living in “Emerick, in the county of Madison and State of Nebraska, have invented a new and useful Corn-Sheller.” Thus began his application to the United States Patent and Trademark Office. He continues:
“This invention relates to corn-shellers, and has especial reference to that class of cornshellers which are adapted to be operated by hand, and more especially for the purpose of shelling seed-corn or, more properly, for the purpose of removing from the ends of the ears the small seeds which it is desired to separate out from the corn, the large seeds which are usually found upon the central and lower portion of the cob being retained and afterward removed for seeding purposes.
“My invention has for its object to provide a device of this class which shall possess superior advantages in point of simplicity, durability, and general efficiency; and with these objects in, view the invention consists in the improved construction, arrangement, and combination of parts, which will be hereinafter fully described, and particularly pointed out in the claims.”
The details continue with multiple diagrams to show all the parts and how it works. Here is one:
Grant – Filed May 18, 1903 – Issued Nov 17, 1903 – Joseph R Duhachek
My mother-in-law appreciated learning about his role in improving the lives of farmers. Suddenly, being a farmer had a fresh, new look for her. She had grown up on a farm during the depression and only thought of all the hard work required. She now understood that farmers would create new tools to help them become more efficient and she was proud of his accomplishment.
The two photos of my mother-in-law are in the author’s personal collection taken on a visit in July 2014. The first one also includes my husband, Roger Erickson, and our grandson, Miles Erickson. The second photo shows Orpha Erickson eating ice cream.