Hiltons donate antique sheller
Published 3:00 am Friday, January 8, 2016
When Brundidge Historical Society President Lawrence Bowden was told about a donation of a peanut sheller, he made a correction. “A corn sheller.”
And that was an understandable assumption.
Corn shellers are not uncommon in an agricultural community where people have held on to their relics from the old farming days.
But hand-cranked peanut shellers are rather rare, even in an area where peanuts replaced King Cotton.
Roy Hilton of the New Brockton community happened upon a peanut sheller at an estate sale in Gantt.
“I just like primitive stuff and you don’t see many peanut shellers, so I bought it,” Hilton said. “I didn’t really have any use for a peanut sheller so I just put it out in the barn.”
Hilton and his wife, Elsie, are regulars at the annual Peanut Butter Festival in Brundidge, which is sponsored by the Brundidge Historical Society, and he thought he would donate the peanut sheller to the historical group.
“I thought they could use it as a demonstration at the Peanut Butter Festival,” Hilton said.
“A lot of people have never seen a peanut sheller and a lot of people would probably be interested in it.”
Hilton said the peanut sheller works like a corn sheller.
“You drop the peanuts in and turn the crank and they pop right on through,” he said.
“It looks like the peanuts would get crushed but they don’t. You have to separate the peanuts from the shells but the sheller does the work a lot faster than if you had to shell the peanuts by hand.”
The Hiltons loaded the peanut sheller on their truck and took it to the Peanut Butter Festival in October but they couldn’t find anyone to accept the sheller. So, they took it back home and put it back in the barn.
“Later on, we decided to put it back in the truck and take it to Brundidge,” Hilton said. “We made the arrangements and met Johnny Steed, who is the vice president of the historical society, at the We Piddle Around Theater and he seemed excited to get it.”
Steed said he was excited to get a farm implement that related to the peanut industry. He expressed appreciation to Roy and Elsie Hilton for the generous donation.
“The peanut sheller will be a great addition to the Peanut Butter Festival and we’ll use it as a demonstration,” Steed said.
“I’ve never seen anything like it and I’m sure there will be a lot of interest in it.”
Steed said the BHS appreciates the Hilton’s interest and generosity.
“We’d love for them to come to the Peanut Butter Festival next year and demonstrate the peanut picker,” Steed said. “People really enjoy learning about farm life in years past.”
Tom Huston invented a peanut-shelling machine he sold to farmers for literally peanuts.
The sheller that he sold dates back to 1910-1924. The Tom Huston Peanut Sheller mounts on a bench or board. The peanuts are loaded and shelled with a hand crank.
Although, there are no papers, the peanut sheller is thought to be one designed by the Tom’s Roasted Peanuts man.