‘Reaping Extraordinary’

In the newspaper archives (which, by the way, I access via Find My Past), you can find a lot of very tragic and/or unpleasant stories, and this is usually all I find (if anything) when researching my London and Essex ancestors. However, searching for my Cornish and Devon ancestors has resulted in a few happy, and even quite sweet little articles. Here’s one I found last night, which I have to say is probably the most wholesome item I’ve ever come across in the newspaper archives:

REAPING EXTRAORDINARY

On Monday last, August 9th, in a field belonging to Mr. John Strout, of Polyphant, Lewannick, five labourers of the parish of South-Petherwin, and an equal number from the parish of Altarnun, agreed to cut a portion of a field of wheat, about a quarter of an acre each, bind it in shocks in a proper and workmanlike manner; to be done in the short space of four hours for a wager of £5.

The work was done so well by the competing parties that the umpires, Mr. Somer of St. Cleather, and Mr. W Dawe of Lewannick, had considerable difficulty in deciding. But as both parties were a few minutes over the time, and equally deserving, they thought it best that the bet should be withdrawn.

Hundreds of people were present to witness the performance, which excited a great deal of interest, and appeared highly pleased with the able manner in which the work was done. Under the circumstances the decision of the umpires deserved the greatest praise.

The utmost harmony prevailed throughout the contest.

(Cornish Times 14 August 1858 © The British Library Board. All Rights Reserved. Accessed via Find My Past.)

By the way, John Strout was my 4x great grandfather. This particular article doesn’t provide any facts about my family history but it provides the kind of context that I love to help build up a picture of what the life of my ancestors was like.

Have you found any particularly wholesome newspaper items? Is there any geographical area you’ve found is particularly good for this kind of content?

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