The Herman and Anna Hageman Memorial Thresher Hall is now open!
Included in Museum Admission • Located in the Museum Ag Hub
On August 11, 2022, the Herman and Anna Hageman Memorial Thresher Hall officially opened to the public. The new 1,247-square-foot building, located in the museum’s new Ag Hub, showcases Naperville’s agriculture history through the display of the c. 1912 Wood Bros. grain thresher. Naper Settlement acquired the thresher from the Wheatland Plowing Match Association when it disbanded in 2014 after 137 years. Founded in 1877, the Wheatland Plowing Match Association brought Naperville’s farming community together through local plowing competitions and the preservation of local farming history. The Wood Bros. thresher was owned and operated by Naperville area farmers during the early 20th century when agriculture dominated the landscape. According to Hageman family records, brothers Frank and Herman purchased the grain thresher on August 1, 1928, for a price of $888.00, along with its belt for $60.00 and canvas for an additional $22.30. As the thresher traveled between the two Hageman farms, it stopped at local farms to thresh their grain. In 1955, Marshall Erb purchased the thresher for $56 at auction.
Threshers were part of the early mechanization of agriculture, which also included the reaper. The introduction of the threshing machine in the 18th century made the process of separating grain from the chaff and stalk considerably less labor-intensive than it had been. What once took days, now could be accomplished in hours, saving local farmers time, money, and resources.
In 2016, the Naperville Heritage Society received a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services to clean, stabilize, and conserve the c. 1912 thresher to prepare it for its new home at Naper Settlement. Over 800 hours went into restoring this iconic piece of Naperville’s 20th-century agricultural history. The thresher is the centerpiece of the new Herman & Anna Hageman Memorial Thresher Hall and is an important part of the museum’s commitment to sharing Naperville’s agriculture story.