Injured While Loading Hay

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.

The train that surprised Grandma would have come down these tracks.
The train that surprised Grandma would have come down these tracks.

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:

Hay Pulleys and Ropes

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.)

18 thoughts on “Injured While Loading Hay

  1. Our next door neighbor hurt his back working the forks on the hay rack. During haying season, three or four neighbors would gather at each farm to help each get their crop into the barn as quick as possible. The team effort really speeded things up.

    The neighbor was laid up into the winter. That fall, dozens of farmers and tractors showed up at his place to harvest his crops then plow the fields before winter set it. That left him with much less to do in the spring before planting.

    Good neighbors all.

  2. Or could this be the kind of thing that first led me to a chiropractor. I bent down to pick up a paper bag and twisted my back – very painful. She might just have turned too quickly in her startled reaction. I’m anxious to know if she says more about it in future entries.

  3. Hopefully Helena’s youth and zest for life will see her through a painful experience with only the diary for memories. Can’t wait to see future diary entries.

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