The first hay carrier patent was issued in 1868 to Harvey and Luther McCown. These tools were desgned and built out of necessity. The farmer's need for an easier way to put up hay in the barn created the need for this tool.
Following the first patent, other inventors began designing and patenting many styles of carriers. Between 1886 and 1945 (the hay days) over 600 patents were issued, with over 180 sold in the market place. They were manufactured by over 100 companies. The majority of these early manufactureres were located on the East coast, but in later
years the Mid-West was the center of production.
As in most industries, companies merged through the years and by 1920 or so, the industry was consolidated to around a dozen manufacturers. Of these dozen, there were 5 top producers. These were: F.E. Myers & Borther of Ashland Ohio; Louden Machinery of Fairfield Iowa; Hunt-Helm & Ferris, also known as Starline, of Harvard Illinois; J.E. Porter
of Ottawa Illinois; and Ney Manufacturing Co. of Canton Ohio.
In addition to hay carrier manufacturing, these companies also produced everything else a farmer needed to outfit his barn. Some of these items were: hay slings, different types of pulleys for hay carriers, assorted barn pulleys, sling releases, track and track accessories for carriers, harpoon forks, multi claw hay forks, animal feeders, litters, cow
stanchions and many other items.
The museum's collection is centered around the haying equipment made by these manufacturers.
The museum to date has around 200 hay carriers, several hundred barn pulleys and hundreds of other small tools associated with the hay industry.