19-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today:
Wednesday, July 22, 1914: I’m feeling awful sore in my lower region. Have a sore nose and two sore front teeth. /Was loading hay this afternoon. While at work on the last load the train rounded the bend. I glanced in that direction. This next moment I was lying on the ground with the breath knocked out of me.
Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:
Whew, are you okay? Do you think you should go to a doctor (or a dentist)? It sounds like a bad mishap—and like you‘re very lucky that you weren’t hurt worse.
I’m not sure exactly what happened, but I think that it was a mishap with the rope and pulley system used to lift hay or straw from the wagon, and take it up into the hay mow. There was a huge hook at the end that held the hay that was being lifted. If care wasn’t used (or if the rope broke) hundreds of pounds of hay would fall back onto the wagon. This would jolt the wagon—and could throw a person standing on it. The falling hay could also potentially hit a worker.
There were train tracks that ran along the edge of the Muffly farm—and the Susquehanna, Bloomsburg, and Berwick Railroad had regularly scheduled passenger trains that used the tracks. I suppose Grandma was surprised by the train—and somehow failed to properly attend to whatever she was supposed to be doing with the pulley system.
For more information about hay pulleys you might enjoy this previous post:
You may also enjoy this link to a YouTube video what shows people using the old-fashioned pulley system to unload hay. (Thank you Jim in Iowa for finding this link and sharing it when I did the previous post on this topic.)