Corn Husking Pegs

 18-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Friday, September 26, 1913:  Still pegging away.


Corn Husking Peg

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

The previous day Grandma wrote that she was “on duty out in the corn field.”  This diary entry makes it clearer how she was helping with the corn harvest.

Grandma was using a corn husking peg, and “pegging away” at husking corn.

After the corn ears were broken off the stalks, they were husked by hand using a husking peg.

Lehman’s still sells Finger-loop Corn Husking Pegs.  According to their website:

To use, slip over first three fingers, push peg under husk, grab with thumb and pull.


24 Responses

  1. That sounds tricky and hard work.

  2. I can’t imagine that being good for the manicure. Thus Corn Huskers Lotion?

  3. I agree – sounds like hard work….as I’ve said before, we just can’t fathom how hard our ancestors worked.

  4. I’m glad I don’t have to figure out how to do it — sounds complicated. But I love your sharing. I also like the comment about Corn Huskers Lotion. Now that makes sense.

  5. This is so interesting! I never heard of a corn husking peg. Might come in handy.

  6. That makes my fingers hurt from looking at it.

  7. another mystery solved! It’s fun to live vicariously through Helena. :)

  8. Definitely hard work and necessary.

  9. I think we need a you-tube video of how this works.

  10. Who knew?! It’s so neat to see this!

  11. Went to Lehman’s website and saw the Finger-Loop Corn Husking Peg but I’m trying to figure out how they use this. Will try to see if YouTube has any vid on it. Interesting.

    • The Wessel’s Living History Farm website describes how corn pegs are used:

      “This steel peg or hook was strapped to the hand and was used to tear the shucks open on the corn. Many huskers wore gloves but some shucked barehanded. The method mostly used in husking was to grip an ear with the left hand, yank off the husk with the right hand, twist the ear from the stalk with the right hand and throw the ear into the wagon with the right hand.”

  12. Your grandmother worked so hard!

  13. […] The previous day Grandma wrote that she was “still pegging away.” In order words, she was using a husking peg to remove the husks from corn as it was being harvested. […]

  14. Was she already courting your grandfather at this time, Sheryl?

    • Grandma and her future husband (Raymond Swartz) knew each other when she was writing the diary. They both graduated from McEwesnville High School in 1913. See the commencement program with both of their names at:

      There were only 6 people in the graduating class, but Grandma never mentions Raymond in the diary by name. I think that one of the biggest mysteries of the diary is why she never mentioned him.

      Raymond was 3 1/2 years younger than Helena–and he was 14 1/2 when he graduated from high school. I think that he skipped several grades. My guess is that she didn’t find him interesting at the time she was writing the diary–and considered him just a little kid who wasn’t worth mentioning in the diary.

      They got married when she was 26.

  15. Cool! What made you think of looking for a connection between “pegging away” and a literal peg? Did you know about this wording before? I didn’t. All my husking has been done by hand over the last 50+ years. I love your blog, Sheryl! Just in the last month I’ve learned “Harvest Home” and “pegging.” Quite humbling for a know-it-all.

    • Yes, I knew this word before. I have a very vague memory of there being an old corn peg somewhere around the farm when I was a child–and my father showing me how it was used once upon a time. Unfortunately I don’t remember much about the demonstration.

  16. […] worked so hard helping with the corn harvest—and I bet it feels really good that when your dad took a day off to go to the fair, you also got […]

  17. […] was still helping with the corn harvest. As she worked,maybe she dreamed of making an awesome Halloween […]

  18. […] was still husking corn using a hand-held corn peg.  She’d been husking corn since September […]

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