The Wisconsin Motor Manufacturing Company of Milwaukee, Wisconsin

The Wisconsin Motor Manufacturing Company


Brian Wayne Wells

As published in the September/October 2004 issue of

Belt Pulley Magazine

            As the 1890’s drew to a close and the new twentieth century began, there was a feeling in the air that everything was “new.”  (George E. Mowry, The Era of Theodore Roosevelt [Harper and Brothers Pub.: New York, 1958] p. 2.)  Technology had invented a new, efficient source of power—the internal combustion engine.  This new source of power was to revolutionize industry and agriculture.  The public was demanding ever-newer more efficient power sources.  In answer to this growing demand, development of the internal combustion engine evolved from the large bulky engines to engines that were small, efficient and simple to use.  In first years of the new century, a young man from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, by the name of Charles H. John, was intrigued with the idea of designing an engine that would meet the power needs of a broad masses of the public.  As opposed to the single-cylinder “hit and miss” engine which were then being popular, Charles favored the multiple cylinder style of engine.  Thus, he set out designing this own version of this type of engine.

Charles H. John was aided in the development of this engine by A. F. Milbrath.  Following the development of a prototype of their engine the two partners sought to incorporate and on March 12, 1909 they received a corporate charter from the State of Wisconsin which legally incorporated the Wisconsin Motor Manufacturing Company.  (C.H. Wendel, American Gosoline Engines Since 1872 [MBI Pub. Co.: Osceola, Wisc., 1999] p. 557.)  A.F. Milbrath became the Secretary of the new company.  However; because, like Charles John, A.F. Milbrath preferred to work with his hands he also occupied the position of Mechanical Engineer for the Wisconsin Motor Manufacturing Company.  In this position, A.J. Milbrath would continue his inventive ways.  In 1916 he would be granted a patent from the United States Patent Office for a magneto coupling that he designed and built.

The Wisconsin Motor Manufacturing  Company operated out of a shop in North Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  However the Company would soon outgrow this facility.  By 1911, the Company was required to purchase a 6-1/2 acre site at 53rd and Burnham Street in West Allis, Wisconsin.  On this new site the company built one of the most modern engine manufacturing plants in the world at the time.  By 1912, the Wisconsin Motor Company was employing about 300 people in this new facility on both day and night shifts making engine to fill purchase orders that were flowing in to the Company.

At first the Wisconsin Motor Manufacturing Company found that the largest market for their four (4) and six (6) cylinder engines was for installation in heavy construction equipment.  The Bucyrus-Erie Company of Milwaukee, Wisconsin (formerly [prior to 1893] of Bucyrus Ohio) installed Wisconsin engines in the large cranes and power shovels which they manufactured.  Indeed, seventy-seven (77) of these Wisconsin-powered Bucyrus shovels were used on the largest and most famous construction project of the time i.e. the Panama Canal which was completed on August 15, 1914.  (David McCullough, Path Between the Seas: Creation of the Panama Canal 1870-1914 [Simon & Schuster: New York, 1977] p. 609.)  Wisconsin Motor also supplied engine to the Marion Steam Shovel Company of Marion, Ohio.  Marion was the manufacturer o large power excavators, draglines and shovels.  As their name suggests the company relied primarily on steam as a power source for their construction equipment.  (From the web page on Marion, Ohio, located on the Roadtrip America website on the Internet.)  However, the efficiency of internal combustion engines, supplied by Wisconsin Motor eventually won out over steam power.  By the late 1920’s, the Marion Steam Shovel Company had changed its named to the Marion Power Shovel Company to reflect modern realities.  (Ibid.)  The Marion Company also supplied heavy Wisconsin powered shovels and excavators to the United States Corps of Army Engineers for the mamouth Panama Canal project.  Thus, Wisconsin engines were seen every where on the Canal project under at least two different company names—Marion and Bucyrus-Erie.

The role played by Wisconsin engines in the construction of the Panama Canal, was glamorous and the connection with this huge construction project was used by the Wisconsin Motor Manufacturing Company for advertising purposes.  Nonetheless, the contracts with construction equipment manufacturing companies were small in comparison to the mushrooming market that was soon to occupy nearly all of the production capacity of the Wisconsin Motor Manufacturing Company.  This was the automobile market.

The vast number of automobile companies that sprang up in the early 1900s had no time to develop their own engines.  They appreciated the smooth running engines that Wisconsin Motor had available.  Thus, many small, but up and coming, automobile manufacturers looked to Wisconsin as an outsource supplier of engines for their automobiles.  Supplying this new burgeoning market, propelled the Wisconsin Motor Company into period of rapid expansion.  Automobile engines proved to be the most popular market for the Wisconsin Motor Company.

One of the new auto companies contracting Wisconsin Motor, was the Ideal Motor Car Company, (later in May of 1913 this company became the Stutz Motor Car Company).  (Beverly Rae Kimes and Henry Austin Clark Jr., Standard Catelogue of American Cars, 1805-1942 [Krause Pub.: Iola, Wisc., 1996] p. 1442.)  In 1911, Harry C. Stutz, founder of the Ideal Company, built the first prototype of a car in just five weeks. Almost immediately this car was entered in the very first Indianapolis 500 mile race, where the car averaged 68.25 mph. and made history as “the car that made good in a day.  A few weeks later when the Ideal Company put the car into production, they were fitted with the Wisconsin Type A,engine.  The Type A was a “T-head” 60 hp. four-cylinder engine with a 4-3/4”bore and a 5-1/2” stroke.  (Ibid.)  When in 1912, the famous “Bearcat” model car was introduced it was made available with either the four cylinder Type A engine or an alternative six-cylinder Wisconsin 60-hp. engine.

Besides supplying the engine for the mass-produced Stutz cars, the Wisconsin Motor Company also built the overhead 16 valve engine that was used in 1915 by the “White Squadron” (the Stutz Company racing team).  At the 1915 automobile race held at the Long Island Raceway in Sheepshead By, New York, Bearcats of the White Squadron finished first and second among the field of race cars crossing the finish line.  However, starting in 1917 Stutz Motor Car Company started building their own engines for their cars and ceased purchasing engines from the Wisconsin Motor Company.  (Ibid.)  The Stutz Company continued building their own engines until they went broke in 1939.

The success of the White Squadron racing team created a demand by other race car drivers and builders to have Wisconsin engines installed in their racing cars.  Among these famous racing car drivers were Ralph de Palma, Bill Endicott and Sig Haugdaul, all of whom insisted on Wisconsin engines in all the race cars that they drove.  Sig Haugdaul drove a car called the “Wisconsin Special”  In 1921, Sig Haugdaul and the Wisconsin Special established a new world speed record of 180 mph.  Thus, he and the Wisconsin Special, became the first man and car to travel at a speed of three (3) miles a minute.  During this time, Art Brown, who figures prominently later in this story, also drove race cars which were fitted with Wisconsin engines.

Wisconsin also signed another contract to supply the Kissel Motor Car Company of Hartford, Wisconsin, with engines for all the cars they produced.  (As noted in a previous article, in July of 1915 the Oltrogge family of Waverly, Iowa, purchased a 1911 Kissel Model D-11 Touring Car with a water-cooled 50 hp. four cylinder Wisconsin engines as their first automobile.  [See the article “Massey-Harris Farming: The Oltrogge Family” contained in the March/April 2004 issue of Belt Pulley magazine.])  The Kissel Company continued to use Wisconsin engines in all their cars until 1915 when they began to make their own engines.  (Beverly Rae Kimes and Henry Austin Clark Jr., Standard Catelogue of American Cars, 1805-1942 p. 811.)

Ever since 1871 the J.I. Case Threshing Machine Company had been dabbling with the idea of building a “horseless carriage.”  (Ibid., p. 261.)  That year, Dr. J.M. Carhart built a steam powered buggy.  (Ibid.)  Most of the actual work on the steam buggy was completd at the Case Company facilities in Racine, Wisconsin.  (Ibid.)  The steam powered buggy did not work out and the Case Company became one of the early pioneers in the development of the internal combustion engine.  (C.H. Wendel, 150 Years of J.I. Case [Crestline Pub.: Sarasota, Fla., 1991] p. 103.)  In 1895, the Horseless Age Magazine announced what was the first automobile race in the United States.  (Ibid., p. 58.)  The race was sponsored by the Chicago Times-Herald newspaper.  (Beverly Rae Kimes and Henry Austin Clark Jr., Standard Catelogue of American Cars, 1805-1942 p. 261.)  However, the Case Company was unable to complete development of their automobile in time to participate in this race.  (Ibid.)  The Case Company was preoccupied by planning other uses for the internal combustion engine.  The Company was attempting to produce its “Patterson tractor.”  Accordingly, Case’s first attempt at production of automobile had to be abandoned.

The second attempt of the Case Company to enter the automobile market came in 1911 when the company purchased the small Pierce Motor Company of Racine, Wisconsin.  The Pierce Company had been producing a small number of automobiles since 1904.  (Ibid., p. 1189.)  In 1911, Pierce was producing their Model 30 automobile.  This car was powered by Pierce’s own 30 hp. engine.  Following the corporate buyout, the Case Company continued production of the Model 30 and introduced a larger Model 40 to the new line of automobiles.  Although the newly acquired Pierce Company had in the past produced their own 40 hp. Engine, their capacity to produce the engine in the numbers needed was extremely limited.  Thus, the Case Company turned to the Wisconsin Motor Company to make up the deficiency in their capacity to produce a 40 hp. engine for the Model 40 car.

Eventually, the Wisconsin Motor Manufacturing Company offered complete line of line of engines ranging from the 20 hp. models up to the 200 hp. models.  Wisconsin engines were advertised as “Consistent” engines.  Three of the most popular Wisconsin engines intended for use in passenger cars were the four-cylinder 25.6 hp. Type TAU engine, the four-cylinder 28.9 hp. Type UAU engine and the four cylinder 32.4 hp Type VAU engine.  Ranging from 650 to 680 pounds and containing four main bearings on the crankshaft, these engines were intended for heavy duty use despite advertisements stating their intended use as passenger car engines.

However, as the various automobile companies became more secure in their positions, they began to design and manufacture their own engines.  Thus, Wisconsin Motor’s role as an outsource supplier of  automobile engines declined.  Thus the Company was forced to seek other markets for their engines.  Sometime prior to the First World War, the Wisconsin Motor Manufacturing Company introduced a line of marine engines called the “Wisconsin Whitecaps.”  During the Prohibition Era of the 1920’s, the United States Coast Guard contracted with the Wisconsin Motor Company for a large number of these “Whitecap” marine engines for installation into patrol boats that the Coast Guard used to patrol the coastlines of the United States looking for “rumrunners” attempting to import illegal liquor into the nation.  Soon an international market developed for these marine engines, as is shown by a 1925 piece of Spanish-language advertising literature entitled “El Motor Consistente: Wisconsin.”

One contract the Wisconsin Motor Company signed with a vehicle manufacturer would survive throughout the 1920s.  This was the long-term contract with the innovative Four Wheel Drive Company of Clintonville, Wisconsin (known as the FWD Company).  The FWD Company began its corporate existence in 1909 as the Badger Four Wheel Automobile Company and only later shorted its name to FWD.  (Albert Mroz, The Illustrated Encyclopedia of American Trucks and Commercial Vehicles [Krause Pub.: Iola, Wisc., 1996] p. 156.)   The company was the brain-child of Ottow Zachow and his brother-in-law William Besserdich.  (Ibid.)  Both men were machinists working in Clintonville, Wisconsin.  (Ibid.)  Ottow was the original developer and owner of the patent for the first “double Y” ball and socket universal joint.  (Ibid.)  This ingenious invention would eventually become very common in machinery through out the world.  However, for Otto it solved an immediate problem of allowing the front wheels of his automobile become “drive wheels” as well as steering wheels.  At this time their prototype was a “steam powered” truck/automobile.  With the backing of Dr. W.H. Finney and a group of other investors, Ottow and William incorporated their company, the Badger Four Wheel Automobile Company in 1909.  (Ibid.)  However, the steam powered design was not a success and by 1911, Dr. Finney had backed out of the enterprise.  After returning Dr. Finney’s original $1,800 investment to him, William and Ottow reincorporated their company as the Four Wheel Drive Automobile Company.  By signing a contract with the Wisconsin Motor Company for a 45 hp. version of the Type A engine, the two men set about bringing their new four-wheel drive vehicle into production as a gasoline powered vehicle.  This vehicle became the famous FWD Model B truck.  The United States Army was immediately interested in the new Model B four wheel drive truck and signed a contract for a large number of Model Bs to be made for the Army.  However, the Zachow and Besserdich machine shop in Clintonville, Wisconsin, was woefully small for production of the FWD truck in the numbers needed by the United States Army.  Accordingly, Ottow and William purchased a large tract of land nearby the machine shop and in 1913 they built a large new factory at the site.  Nonetheless, with the United States’ entry into the First World War, the increased orders from the U.S. Army for Model B trucks soon outstripped the capacity of even this new factory.  Consequently, FWD was forced to sub-contract production of their Model B truck.  Thus, they licensed the Kissel Motor Car Company, noted above, the Mitchell Motor Car Company of Racine, Wisconsin and the Premier Motor Car Company of Indianapolis, Indiana to make the Model B to help fill the large U.S. Government contract.  Every Model B was fitted with a Wisconsin engine.  Thus, Wisconsin Motor Company grew in direct proportion to growing popularity of the FWD Model B truck.

The FWD contract was a very important contract for the Wisconsin Motor Company.  However, even before entering into this lucrative relationship with FWD, the Wisconsin Motor Company had been experiencing growing pains.  Growth of the company exceeded the expectations of the two founding officers and eventually the Wisconsin Motor Manufacturing Company “went public.”  Stock in the company was offered to the investing public.

The popularity of the Wisconsin-powered FWD “Clintonville” four-wheel truck did not stop with the end of the First World War in November 1918.  The rising popularity of automobiles had by the 1920s created a huge demand for “good roads.”  Good Road Associations sprang up in local communities all across the nation.  The Good Road Associations spurred state, county and local governments into increasing public expenditures on creation and better maintenance of roads.  The making and the maintenance of these new and improved roads created a new peacetime market for four-wheel drive trucks.  Indeed many of the 15,000 old FWD Model B trucks, made during the war, which were deemed “Army surplus” at the end of the war, were allocated to the various state highway departments around the United States for use in improving roads.  However, there continued to be a strong market for new Model B trucks made into various configurations, e.g. snow plow trucks, or dump trucks.  When the new three (3) ton Model B was introduced in 1924, it was powered by the Wisconsin Type A engine.  Thus, growth of the Wisconsin Motor Company continued throughout the 1920s based in large part on its continuing contractual relationship with FWD.  Additionally, during the 1920s, Wisconsin Motor introduced a line of marine engines called the “Wisconsin Whitecaps” line of engines.  The United States Coast Guard purchased a number of boats, they wished to use for patrolling up and down the coastlines of the United States, looking for “rumrunners” ships trying to enter the United States with illegal “boot legged” alcoholic.  A great number of these patrol boats purchased by the Coast Guard were powered by Wisconsin engines.  Other nations, including the nations of South America soon were ordering patrol boats to watch their own coasts.  Thus, advertisement of the “Whitecaps” line was conducted in Spanish as well as in English.  The Consistent Motor was also known as “El Motor Consistente.  However, with the ending of prohibition in 1933, the Whitecaps line of engines was phased out.

However, the end of the 1920s brought a real challenge to all business enterprises in the United States .  The stock market crash in October of 1929 and the resulting Great Depression that followed had a devastating effect on the economy of the United States.  As state and local governments started to cut back their budgets, purchases of new road maintenance equipment vanished.  The FWD Company was placed in an extremely difficult financial position.  In 1932, FWD had terminated it contract with the Wisconsin Motor Company.  The end of this very important contract set the Wisconsin Motor Manufacturing Company reeling financially.  By 1934, the Wisconsin Motor Manufacturing Company fell into receivership.  The company’s main creditor, the First Wisconsin Bank, appointed Harold Todd, one of its own employees, as president of the Wisconsin Motor Company.  However, once secondary creditor’s petitioned the United States District Court to have their rights protected, another neutral person was selected by the Court to be the President of the Company while ion receivership.

Early in the course of the depression, the Wisconsin Motor Company had been forced into reducing its workforce.  However, even as employees were being laid off, some limited hiring occurred.  One person hired in 1929 was nineteen year-old Russell Young.  Russell Young lived with his family at 18th Street and McKinley Avenue (1807 McKinley) in Milwaukee’s Third Ward.  Russell used to say that he “walked into the company just as so many employees were walking out of the company.”  Russell was originally hired to sweep the snow off the assembly line.  Eventually, he obtained work as an assembly line worker and then became an assembly line supervisor.  Later Russell Young was transferred to the research department within the company.  Exciting new things were happening in the research department.

In 1929 the Wisconsin Motor Company embarked the path of on designing and building an air-cooled engine.  In 1930, the Company went into production with its first entire line of air-cooled engines (the Model A 1½ engine [2.4 hp.], the Model A 2 engine [3.0 hp.], the Model A 3 engine [5.0 hp.], the Model A 4 engine [5.7 hp.], and the Model A 5 engine [6.0 hp.]).  (Information from the website of the Antique Small Engine Collectores Club.)  All of these air-cooled engines designed by Wisconsin were single cylinder “L head” type engines with a flywheel magneto and an air vane governor.  (Ibid.)  In 1932, Russell Young assisted in the building of the second prototype of a new and improved series of air-cooled engines in the research department.  Progress on the air-cooled engines was hampered by the financial difficulties of the company.  Nonetheless, in 1933, the Wisconsin Motor Company introduced its second, but shortened, line of air-cooled engines including the Model AD engine (3.7 hp.), the Model AE engine (4.2 hp.) and the Model AES engine (6.5 hp.).  (Ibid.)  All of these single cylinder engines featured the “outboard magnetos” rather than the flywheel magnetos featured on the previous 1930 line of  Wisconsin engines.  The next year in 1934, the line of Wisconsin air-cooled engines was supplemented with the first four-cylinder air-cooled engine made by Wisconsin—the Model AC4 engine (16 hp.).  (Ibid.)  The Model AC4 was an “in-line” four cylinder engine.  (The cylinders were lined up in the engine block, one behind the other.

By the autumn of 1933, the very bottom of the depression had been reached and thanks to the New Deal the economy was slowly making its way back from the pit of the economic depression.  Russell Young was still employed at the Wisconsin Motor Company and that fall started a family when he married Mildred Schmacher.  Russell and Mildred would eventually have a family which would consist of three children: a son Ray born in 1934, a daughter, Kathleen, born in 1939 and a son, Michael born in 1951.  Russell and Mildred continued to live at the house at 1807 McKinley with his parents until after the birth of Kathleen.  In 1940 Russell and Mildred and their family moved around the corner into their own house at 1243 18th Street.

The Wisconsin Motor Manufacturing Company was a secondary beneficiary to the construction projects of the Work Projects Administration (WPA), the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and the other New Deal programs.  These government-financed construction projects required all types of farm, industrial and construction equipment.  The manufacturers of this farm, industrial and construction equipment turned to Wisconsin Motor to supply the engines for large quantity of equipment needed.  This secondary benefit received from the government financed programs helped Wisconsin Motor get through the worst part of the Depression.  Thus, a ripple effect was established whereby the government contracts with a few companies caused ordering by those few companies from their suppliers.  These business to business (B. to B.) suppliers would, in turn, order more raw materials and parts from their suppliers.  Slowly, the United States economy began to recover.

As the United States economy continued its recovery, the Wisconsin Motor Company emerged from receivership in 1935.  Soon the consuming public entered The Company realized that there was a growing demand among average North American families for internal combustion engines suited to a variety of everyday tasks.  Accordingly in 1935, the Company introduced three more new air-cooled models to their line of engines—the Model AF engine (5.4 hp.), the Model AG engine (6.1 hp.) and the Model AH engine (8 hp.).  (Ibid.)  These are the size of engines that might have been used for powering small feed grinders and/or burr mills, powering vacuuming systems for automated milking systems and or powering home electric generating systems on average farms across the continent.  In 1936, two more small air-cooled engines were added to the Wisconsin line—the Model AA engine (1.8 hp.) and the Model AB engine (3.0 hp.).  These smaller engines were obviously intended for smaller household duties like operating water well pumps in the absence of windmills and operating automatic wringer-type clothes washers in houses located in small towns as well as in rural America.

So successful and popular were these air-cooled engines, that in 1937 the Wisconsin Motor Company ceased production of all water-cooled engines to concentrate exclusively on the production of its air-cooled engines.  In 1938 two more large air-cooled engines were added to the line of engines the Wisconsin Motor Company offered to the public—the Model AM4 engine (28.0 hp.) and the Model AP4 engine (31.0 hp.).  Both of these engines were “in-line” four-cylinder engines belonging to the same family as the AC4 only delivering more horsepower than the earlier engine.

Despite the fact that the Wisconsin Motor Company had emerged from receivership, times were still hard for the company.  In the late 1930s, the State of Wisconsin passed legislation which prohibited banks from owning other corporations.  Pursuant to this new law, First Wisconsin Bank was now required to sell its interest in the Wisconsin Motor Company.  Many people were speculating as to what would happen to the Company.  One such person was Art Brown.  As noted above, Art Brown’s involvement with Wisconsin Motor dated from the time that he was racing cars powered by Wisconsin engines.  Art Brown had later accepted a position with the Company as a supervisor where he had become acquainted with Russell Young.  They had become friends.  Now in 1937, Art Brown made a comment to his friend and fellow employee, Russell Young, that the entire Company could be purchased for $500.000.00.  While Art Brown did not have access to this much money, he did invest heavily in the Company.  In the end, controlling interest in the Wisconsin Motor Manufacturing Company was purchased by the Continental Engine Company of Muskegan, Michigan.  Following the merger with Continental, Wisconsin Motor continued to produce engines under its own name as a division of the Continental Company.  Harold A. Todd became president of Wisconsin Motor in1937 and would remain president until 1967.  Art Brown became one of the vice-presidents of the new division.

In 1940, Wisconsinintroduced, what was to prove to be the company’s most popular series of air-cooled engines, the Model V-series engines.  The V-series engine was a four-cylinder engine.  However, the cylinders in the Model V-series engines were arranged in the engine block in a configuration of two “banks” with two cylinders in each bank.  These two banks were located either side of the “V” shaped engine block.  This configuration of engine block allowed for a more compactly designed engine, than was possible with the “in-line” style of engine design.  Originally, there were three models in the V-series—the Model VD4 engine (16.0 hp.), the Model VE4D engine (21.5 hp.) and the Model VF4D engine (25.0 hp.).  However, production of the Model VD4 engine was ceased soon after the engine was introduced, leaving only two models in the V-series of engines.  From the beginning, the new four cylinder air-cooled engine proved to be a sales success.  Production of the Model VE4D and the Model VF4D, would continue without any real changes in design for next three decades.  Demand for the V-series engines, especially the Model VE4D. seemed to be boundless.

The Wisconsin Motor Company would sign sales contracts with numerous farm equipment companies to supply Model VE4D engines to power all sorts of farm machinery.  The Model VE4D engine seemed to spring up everywhere in the 1940s.  A mere sampling of the companies that contracted with the Wisconsin Motor Company include: J.I. Case Company, which used the Model VE4D on their Model A-6 combine and their Model NCM balers (see the article called “The Case NCM baler and a Family’s Crucial Year” in the January/February 1995 issue of Belt Pulley magazine) the Massey-Harris Company used the Model VE4D on their forage equipment and the Clipper combine.  (See the article called “Massey-Harris Farming: The Clipper Combine” in the July/August 2004 issues of Belt Pulley magazine.) The Gehl Bros. Manufacturing Company installed the Model VE4D on its forage choppers and other power forage equipment.  Even the Rosenthal Corn Husker Company turned to the Model VE4D engine to power their pull-type “Cornbine” during the very limited production run of that attempt to modernize the corn husking method of ripe corn harvesting.  (See the article called “The Rosenthal Corn Husking Company [Part IV]: the Cornbine” in the November/December 2001 issue of Belt Pulley magazine, p.12.)

The Wisconsin Motor Company out-sourced their demand for carburetors and magnetos for this new V-4 series engines.  Not wanting to be caught in short supply for carburetors for their engines, the Company turned to both Bendix-Stromberg Company of South Bend, Indiana (maker of the famous Stromberg carburetor) and to the Zenith Motor Company of San Francisco, California for carburetors.  Likewise the Wisconsin Motor Company signed outsourcing contracts with Fairbanks, Morris & Company of Beloit, Wisconsin and the WICO Company of Springfield, Massachusetts to supply magnetos for the new VE-4 engines.  Thus throughout the entire production run of the V-4 series engines Zenith or Stromberg carburetors would appear on the V-series engines together with WICO and/or Fairbanks- Morse magnetos indiscriminatately without any pattern—depending only on which suppliers order had been received at Wisconsin Milwaukee plant when the particular engine was made.  By contracting with two suppliers of carburetors and magnetos at the same time, the Wisconsin Company was assured of a constant supply of both carburetors and magnetos.

When the United States entered the Second World War, Wisconsin Motor signed contracts to supply many air-cooled engines to the military for a variety of different applications. During the war, the V-Series air-cooled engines proved themselves under a variety of difficult conditions.  In addition to the V-4 Series of engines, Wisconsin Motor developed the new Citation Model TFT engine.  During the war the citation engine was produced for a number of military applications including powering military electrical generators around the world.

Manufacturers of construction equipment found that the Wisconsin V-Series fit a number of their small cement mixers, pumps and other construction equipment.  Thus, it was entirely natural that following the war, when these companies went back to peacetime manufacture of this equipment, they sought Wisconsinengines to power this equipment.

Following World War II, Wisconsin Motor signed a number of contracts with a variety of farm equipment companies to supply the Model VE4D engine to power all sorts of farm equipment.  Overnight the Model VE4D engine seemed to spring up everywhere in the olate 1940s.  A mere sampling of the companies that contracted with Wisconsin Motor for the Model VE$D engine includes: the J. I. Case Company which used the Model VE4D engine on their Model a-6 combine and on their Model NCM baler (see the article on the Case NCM baler in the January/February 1995 issue of Belt Pulley and also at this website); and the Massey-Harris Farm Equipment Company which used the Model VE4D engine on their Clipper Combine (see the article on the Clipper combine contained in the July/August 2004 issue of Belt Pulley Magazine and also see the immediately preceding article at this website.  Gehl Bros. Company also installed the Model VE4D engine on its forage choppers and other power forage equipment.  Even the Rosenthal Cornhusker Company turned to the Model VE4D engine to power its pull-type “Cornbine” during the very limited production run of that attempt to modernize corn husking by making it a field operation.  (See the article on Rosenthal’s Cornbine in the November/December 2001 issue of Belt Pulley Magazine and also on this website.)

In the postwar era, the fortunes of both Wisconsin Motor and the Young family continued to be intricately woven together.  In March of 1955, Russell’s son Ray entered employment with Wisconsin Motor.  He worked in the research and development ares of the company together with his father.

In 1966, Ryan Aeronautics purchased the Continental Engine Company of Muskegon, Michigan, including the Wisconsin Motor Division.  Harold A. Todd retired from the presidency of the Wisconsin division of Continental Engine in 1967.  He was succeeded by Phil A. Norton, who served as president of the division until 1969.  Ray Young continued to be employed at Wisconsin Motor until 1968 when he was laid off amid cut backs in employment that followed the buyout by Ryan.  Ray then went to work for Engines Service of Milwaukee.  Engines Service is a distributor of engine parts and today is an authorized dealer for Wisconsinengines and engine parts.  In 1969, the Memphis-headquartered Teledyne Corpoartion purchased Ryan Aeronautics.  Teledyne appointed A.A. Erlinger to head the Continental/Wisconin engine division of the corporation.  That same year, production of the famous Model VE4D air-cooled engine was terminated.  The larger Model VF4D engine remained in production as a part of the Wisconsin line of gasoline and diesel engines which ranged from 3 horsepower (hp.) engines up to 65 hp. Engines.  However, in 1976, even production of the Model VF4D was terminated.

While Ray Young was working at Engines Service, his father, Russell Young continued to be employed at Wisconsin motor until his retirement in 1975.  Two yeqr later in 1977. Russell passed away.

In the early 1990s, a strike occurred at the Continental/Wisconsin manufacturing facility on Burnham Street in Milwaukee.  In response to this strike, Teledyne Corporation closewd the factory and moved all engine manufacturing operations to Dyer, Tennessee.  Shortlythereafter, Teledyne sold its Continental/Wisconsin division to Nosco Company of Cleveland, Ohio.  In December of 1999, Wisconsin Motor Was sold by Nosco to Jack Shafer, who reorganized the entity into the Company L.L.C. Currently Robert Riley serves as the manager of Wisconsin Motor.  Today the company makes about 6,000 engines per month at its Dyer facility.  Although this is a substantial reduction from the peak, when the company was producing 100,000 engines per month, the famous “Wisconsin” name still appears on engines which continue to be employed in a number of application around the world.

Wisconsinengines continue to be sold through a network of dealerships.  In the past, this network included a number of company-owned stores.  One of these stores was called Total Power and was located in the city of Waukesha, Wisconsin.  Manager of this particular store, for about 10 years, was Dan Martin, who currently works for Walter Power Systems and who supplied much information for this article.  Ray Young continues to work for Engines Service.  Engine Service continues to sell remanufactured parts for Wisconsin engines.  Thus the Young family continues a connection which began in 1929 with the famous Wisconsin name.

Restoration of Wisconsinengines, even the relatively modern Model V-4 series of air-cooled engines, is becoming a worthwhile project for many collectors.  Indeed, the website of the Antique Small Engine Collectors Club has a separte page just for Wisconsinengines.  The activities of this club and restoration projects of its members and many other hobbyists will, no doubt, keep the heritage of the Wisconsin Motor Companyalive for generations to come.

Massey-Harris Farming (Part III): The Clipper Combine

      Massey-Harris Farming (Part III): The Clipper Combine


Brian Wayne Wells

As published in the July/August 2004 issue of

Belt Pulley Magazine

Civilized man has grown plants for consumption since 8000 B.C.E. (Before the Common Era).  This change from the hunting and gathering stage of human development to the growing of food products is referred to as the agricultural revolution.  One of the first crops planted by civilized man was a form of wheat grain.  Processing of wheat into flour was so common among civilizations around the world that bread became known as the “staple of life” and wheat became known as the “shaft of life.”  The processing of wheat involved a lot of manual labor.  Since the earliest of times, the grain was harvested after it had turned golden amber color under the hot summer sun.  However, even at this stage the grain contained moisture.  Harvesting or reaping would sever the plant from its roots and allow the grain to “sweat” and dry completely.  This sweating generally occurred after the grain had been gathered together in bundles and placed in “shocks” in the field.  Once the grain had thoroughly dried out, the bundles would be gathered up and threshed by hand.  Then the grain had to be winnowed or separated from all the chaff that may be left in the grain following threshing.  Thus, harvesting and threshing and winnowing of the grain remained three separate time-consuming hand operations for the processing grain.  This method of processing grain remained unchanged for centuries. In 1831, on his family farm in Virginia, Cyrus McCormick took his first big step toward mechanical grain harvesting with his reaper.  Improvements to the reaper, eventually, allowed the machine to automatically bind the grain into bundles.  Mechanization of the threshing process was also accomplished by the development of a threshing machine in the 1860s.  However, this threshing machine was a stationary unit and the bundled grain had to be brought from the field to the thresher for threshing and winnowing of the grain.  Originally steam engines were used as power sources for these stationary threshers.  By 1877, the Buffalo-Pitts Company was able to advertise a thresher/separator, that would not only thresh, but would also winnow the grain. Development of a small portable thresher-separator that would combine the operations of harvesting, threshing and winnowing in one single operation was carried on in the Central Valley of California by three different corporate concerns—the Stockton Combine Harvester and Agricultural Works; the Daniel Best Agricultural Works and the Stockton Wheel Company.  (After 1892, Stockton Wheel became the Holt Manufacturing Company.)  In 1925, these three companies would merge to form the Caterpillar Tractor Company.  The early combines produced by each of these three companies were of mammoth proportions and required 24 to 40 horses to pull the machine across the field.  A separate auxiliary power source was need to power the machine itself. California’s steady weather allowed the grain to be harvested while it was still standing in the field rather than being cut and dried out in a windrow.  Likewise, all across the western United States and the western provinces of Canada, grain was harvested while standing.  In these western states grain was raised in fields stretching from horizon to horizon.  Thus, the Great Plains became known as the bread basket of North America.  Only in large-scale grain farming areas like the Great Plains were the huge combines profitable. In the Midwest, farms were much smaller—generally only about 160 acres.  Furthermore, the arable land of the average farm was often shared with other crops and with pasture for animals.  Usually only about 30 to 35 acres of grain would be raised on a typical 160-acre farm in any given year.  A big combine was not profitable in this type of farming operation.  Farms in the Midwest had to await development of a small combine. Development of the small combine for use on the small farms of the Midwest took a circuitous route and some early attempts were not entirely successful.  One early attempt to develop a small combine began with Curtis Baldwin and his brothers, Earnest and George, who formed the Baldwin Manufacturing Company (later to become the Gleaner Manufacturing Company) of Nickerson Kansas in 1915.  The efforts of the Baldwin brothers resulted in a Fordson-mounted combine in 1923.  This combine was named the “Gleaner” combine.  The popularity of the Gleaner combine was tied directly to the popularity of the Fordson tractor.  In the early 1920s, the popularity of the Fordson made the Gleaner mounted combine a popular sales item, but later in the late 1920s,  when the Fordson declined in popularity, so too did the popularity of the Gleaner.  The Gleaner mounted combine ceased production altogether in 1927. In the 1930s, the Baldwin Company went into bankruptcy.  New owners bought the company from the Baldwin brothers and changed the name of the company to the Gleaner Manufacturing Company of Independence, Missouri. The new Gleaner Company began designing and producing a series of pull-type combines.  Revealing the company’s long-time ties to the Ford Motor Company, early versions of these pull-type combines were powered by Ford Model A industrial engines.  However, these attempts at producing a pull-type combine were not successful over the long run.  Gleaner pull-type combines proved to have design flaws and never became popular with the buying public. Only after 1951, the Gleaner Company became successful for the combines they produced.  However, this success was not based on development of a pull-type combine.  Rather Gleaner became famous for the development and production of its line of self-propelled combines. The most successful small pull-type combine was the 3,000 pound All-Crop- Harvester developed and manufactured by the Allis-Chalmers Manufacturing Company of West Allis, Wisconsin (a more complete story of the All-Crop Harvester was published in the March/April 2005 issue of Belt Pulley magazine and is also exhibited here on this website).  The All-Crop Harvester was first introduced to the public in 1929.  Following in the train of the success of the All-Crop Harvester, other farm equipment companies began producing their own version of a small pull-type combine.  Most of these other companies adopted a “straight through” design for their small combines.  The straight-through designed cut the grain (or picked up the grain from a windrow) threshed and separated the grain from the straw and then deposited the straw on top of the same stubble at the rear of the combine in roughly the same location where grain had been cut or picked up.  In this way, the straight-through combines avoided the sharp left turn the chaff and straw would take as it progressed through the All-Crop Harvester. One of the farm equipment companies to develop a straight through combine was the Massey-Harris Company of  Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  Starting with a design by E. C. Everett, Massey-Harris introduced their small straight-through combine in 1938.  his combine was called the “Clipper” combine.  Although the Massey-Harris Company was a Canadian company and maintained most of its manufacturing facilities in Canada, virtually all Clipper combines were made in the United States at the company’s Batavia, New York facility.  The 3,000 po9und Clipper pull-type combine was marketed with either a 6-foot or a 7-foot cutter bar model.  Both models featured a 5-foot cylinder and a 5 foot wide separating table.  In its first two years of production (1938-1939), the simplicity, small size and low price of the Clipper made the combine a sales success.  In those first two years the Clipper cut well into the market share dominated by the Allis-Chalmers All-Crop Harvester. Right from the start of production, the Clipper combine was available only on rubber tires.  Like many farm equipment companies before World War II, Massey-Harris contracted with the French & Hecht Company of Bettendorf, Iowa, to supply round-spoked wheel rims for these rubber tires on the Clipper.  After the war, Massey-Harris switched to disc-type wheel rims for their rubber tired wheels for the Clipper combine.  Like most companies in the post-war era, Massey Harris obtained these disc-type wheels from the Electric Wheel Company of  Quincy, Illinois.  Because of this abrupt change of contract, “pre-war” Clipper combines are distinguishable from the Clipper combines manufactured in the post-war era. Concurrent with the start of Clipper combine production, Tom Carroll, an engineer for Massey-Harris began to work on a self-propelled combine.  By 1942, Carroll had completed a design for a self-propelled combine that would become the Massey-Harris Model 21 combine.  This was the world’s first truly self-propelled combine.  The Model 21 combine was ready for production, but wartime restrictions prevented its manufacture.  Massey-Harris set about convincing the United States War Production Board that the Batavia, New York factory should be allotted sufficient steel and other raw materials to produce a limited number of Model 21 combines.  Massey-Harris sought to build sufficient Model 21 combines to conduct extensive field tests on the combine.  These field tests would, the Company felt, convince one and all that one-man-operated self-propelled combine could harvest much more grain with less investment and in money and manpower “than any other machine or combination of machines in existence.”  The War Production Board was persuaded and Massey-Harris was allotted enough materials to produce 500 Model 21 combines.  These combines were sold to custom harvesters in March of 1944.  The new combines would begin harvesting in Texas and move north across the Great Plains to the Canadian border, combining nearly 1 million acres and threshing 15 million bushels of grain in the 1944 harvest season.  This became known as the Massey-Harris Harvest Brigade and served as an excellent advertising promotion for the company.  The Harvest Brigade was so successful that it was expanded for the 1945 harvest season. The Harvest Brigade attracted public attention at the time and has attracted the fancy of fans and restorers of Massey-Harris equipment ever since.  Thus, as the 60th anniversary of the Brigade approached more and more restorers expressed interest in participating in a reenactment of the original Harvest Brigade.  Thus, on September 22, 2001, a large number of Massey-Harris tractors and equipment were brought to a 130-acre plot of land in rural Chillicothe, Illinois, to plow, prepare the seed bed, and plant winter wheat on the plot of land.  This event, organized by Dale Lawrence, was dubbed the “Great Planting.”  The wheat formed a good root system over the fall of 2001 and then went into a dormant stage over the winter.  With the arrival of spring, the wheat started growing again and by early summer in 2002, the wheat was ready to harvest.  Harvest Day was planned and was called the “Great Harvest.”  A collection of Massey-Harris combines owned by Wes Armstrong, Gary Emsweller, Vernon Winterroth and Ray Swanson gathered together to harvest the wheat at the Great Harvest Day.  (See “A Massey Connection” by Cindy Ladage in the July/August 2003 issue of Belt Pulley magazine.) At the annual show held on the grounds of the LeSueur County Pioneer Power Association in rural LeCenter, Minnesota on August 26 through 29, 2003.  This annual show was to feature the same Harvest Brigade combines as had participated in the Great Harvest Day the year before in Illinois.  In anticipation of this field demonstration, some of the grain that is usually planted on the grounds and which is usually cut and bundled for threshing during the annual show, was left standing uncut.  This grain was left standing in order to be harvested by the Massey-Harris combines at the show in another re-enactment of the Harvest Brigade. Throughout the summer of 2004 a continuation of the celebration of the Harvest Brigade took place in many locations across the Great Plains.  One particular celebration began in March of 2004 when Lenwood Holo of Omaha, Nebraska and Eau Claire, Wisconsin loaded up his newly restored Model 21 self-propelled Massey-Harris combine on his 1949 Dodge 2-ton truck truck and set out for Texas to retrace the route of the Harvest Brigade—following the harvest north from Texas to Langdon, North Dakota. While the self-propelled Massey-Harris combine and the Harvest Brigade captured all the attention during the war.  After the war, when the wartime economic restrictions on civilian industrial production were lifted, Massey-Harris’ pull-type Clipper combine came back into prominence.  Indeed the Clipper combine became a very big seller for the Massey-Harris Company.  Clipper combine production resumed after the war.  The post-war Clipper combine was offered to the farming public in a power take-off version as well as an engine-powered version.  The engine used for the auxiliary-powered version, was the Wisconsin Model VE-4 air-cooled engine.  (An article on the history of the Wisconsin Motor Company was published in the September/October 2004 issue of Belt Pulley magazine and is reproduced at this website.)  Despite the fact that power take-off was a common feature of post-war tractors and despite the fact that the 1-3/8th inch containing six (6) splines had become universally accepted as the standard power take-off, there still, nonetheless, seemed to be more auxiliary engine-powered versions of the Clipper combine manufactured than power take-off versions. Of particular interest for this particular article are two post-war Clipper combines, both equipped with the Wisconsin VE-4 air-cooled engine, which were delivered to two separate Massey Harris dealerships in southern Minnesota.  The first of these two Clipper combines arrived in Amboy, Minnesota (1940 pop. 576) some time in the early summer of 1948.  The combine arrived on board a flat-bed car attached to a Chicago and Northwestern train.  The flat-bed railroad car carrying the Clipper combine and some other Massey-Harris equipment originated from the Massey-Harris Company branch house located in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  In Amboy, the Clipper combine was unloaded from the railroad car and was taken to the W. J. Nelson Dealership in Amboy.  (A history of the W. J. Nelson dealership was carried in the second article of this three part series of articles on “Massey-Harris Farming” published in the May/June 2004 issue of Belt Pulley magazine.  The article is also reproduced on this website under the name “Massey-Harris Farming: The Arno Schull Model 30 Tractor.”) Like most combines intended for use in the humid Midwest, this combine was delivered delivered with an optional Massey-Harris windrow pickup.  After spending a short while in the inventory of the W. J. Nelson Dealership, this particular combine was sold in the early summer of 1948 to Arno Schull of rural Mapleton, Minnesota (1940 pop. 1070).  Earlier in the spring of 1948, Arno Schull had purchased a new Massey-Harris Model 30 tractor from the W.J. Nelson Dealership. (The story of this Model 30 tractor and the Shull family is contained in the second article in this series of Massey-Harris articles cited above.)  Arno purchased the combine in an attempt to gain more control over his 120-acre farming operation.  Previous to purchasing the combine, Arno, (and his father before him) had belonged to a neighborhood threshing ring.  Years before, his father and a group of neighbors had banned together in a “threshing ring” to purchase a threshing machine.  Each year this threshing machine moved from farm to farm among the neighbors in the “ring” to thresh the small grains (oats and wheat) on each farm.  Not only did this method of threshing grain require a great deal of hand labor for each individual farmer—binding and shocking the grain on his own farm, but it also meant that each individual farmer had to be absent from his own farm for weeks at a time, as he followed the thresher around the neighborhood serving on the threshing crew.  Arno knew this was time lost to the chores and field work on his own farm.  Furthermore, threshing his oats as a part of the neighborhood ring meant that his oat crop had to wait in the fields until the thresher finally showed up on his farm.  This meant a loss in the oat crop.  The prior growing season, of 1947, had been a case in point. The previous summer of 1947 proved the point in this regard.  The spring and early summer of 1947 had been very wet with a great deal of rain.  The rains were not a single deluge, but rather were a consistent pattern of smaller rains the kept the grounds so wet, that Arno and his neighbors could not get into the fields in a timely manner to get the crops planted in the spring.  The rains continued on a consistent basis for most of the summer.  The only window of opportunity for threshing was the short period of time in late July and early August of 1947.  Because of the late planting and the late threshing, Arno and his neighbors suffered nearly a 34% decline in oat production in 1947 as opposed to 1946.  (Blue Earth County oat production figures contained in the National Agricultural Statistical Service from the United States Department of Agriculture website on the Internet.) Besides the disadvantages of threshing in terms of time spent away from the farm, there were actual out-of-pocket expenses involved in the threshing.  Every year, Arno’s wife Lois had to feed the entire threshing crew while the thresher was on the Schull farm.  To be sure, she did receive some assistance from the neighbor’s wives who all brought cooked dishes to pass and stayed through the noon meal and after to serve dinner and to help clean up afterwards.  However, Lois would have to reciprocate by bringing a cooked hot dish or chicken or ham to each of the neighbors’ homes as the thresher progressed around the neighborhood.  Indeed, she too was forced to be absent from the home farm for days at a time during threshing season just like Arno. Now in the present growing season—1948—the oat crop was looking pretty good.  The spring of 1948 was dry enough to allow the planting of all crops to be completed on time.  Once the crop was planted, there was a timely rain in mid-June, which gave the crops a good start.  From the end of June to the middle of July there was a period of sunshine, high temperatures and no rain.  Arno and his neighbors were able to put up their hay and cultivate their corn during this time.  During the two or three days that Arno was cross-cultivating his corn, he kept an eye on the oats over the fence in the next field.  The oat crop was tall and thick with rank growth.  The entire field green, but streaks of yellow were now starting to appear in the green as the oat crop began to ripen.  Every day now the streaks of yellow broadened and became more pronounced.     A few mild rains occurred in late July, but another rainless period occurred from the end of July into August, 1948.   This was the opportunity that Arno needed to harvest his oats.  Ordinarily, he would have begun the long tedious process of binding the oats into bundles and then hand stacking the entire field of bundle into shocks.  This year, however, would be different. Unlike the wheat grown in the dry western states, small grains grown in the humid Midwest could not be combined while the crop was still standing.  The humid weather conditions and the rich soil of the Midwest promoted the growth green grass and weeds in the wheat or oats grown in the Midwest.  These weeds lived longer than the wheat or oats.  Even in late July and August when the wheat and/or oats were ripening and drying out, the green weeds in the crop would still be succulent.  If the oats were cut and combined while standing, the green plant life would not pass through the combine with the dried oat straw.  Rather the “green material” would tend to wrap around the cylinder of the combine and interfere with the threshing of the crop.  To solve this problem, farmers in the Midwest, were required to cut their small grains and “windrow” the crop before combining. Arno Schull hired a neighbor, who owned a windrower, to come to his farm and cut his oat crop.  One long day was all that was needed to reduce the standing oat crop to a filed of stubble with a series of strips of ripe oat plants laying on top of the stubble.  These strips were “windrows.”  The green grass and weeds would quickly dry out and turn brittle in the windrows under the hot August sun in 1948.  Accordingly, Arno made his way to the oat field with his new  Clipper combine on the following day.  As noted above, Arno’s Clipper combine had been sold to him complete with a Massey-Harris pickup attachment.  The Massey-Harris pickup was a conventional pickup attachment.  The pickup consisted of rows of wire teeth set on an axle.  The axle to which the teeth were attached revolved inside a tubular and stationary piece of sheet metal.  The teeth attached to the axle protruded through slots in the sheet metal.  In order to attach the pickup to the combine, Arno disconnected the belt leading to the sickle bar at the bottom the header of the Clipper combine.  He then pulled the sickle out of the cutter bar and then removed the reel that was suspended above the cutter bar.  Then he bolted the pickup attachment onto the header over the cutter bar.  Using a different sized belt, he attached pickup to a pulley on the combine to provide power to the pickup. Then, Arno hitched his new Model 30 tractor to the Clipper combine and pulled the combine down the lane to the field.  He pulled the combine through the closest gate to the oat field.  Inside the oat field, he lined the header on the combine with the second windrow from the fence.  There was not enough room between the first windrow and the fence to allow him to combine the first windrow nearest the fence.  So he skipped that windrow for the time being.  When the little Wisconsin Model VE-4 engine was started the clutch was engaged, the wire teeth of the pickup began a sweeping action in front of the header. As he shifted the tractor into second gear and let out the clutch pedal, the tractor pulled the combine forward and the teeth of the pickup efficiently combed the stubble ground in front of the feeder platform.  The windrow of oats laying on top of the stubble was gently lifted by the pickup over the cutter bar and into the header.  There the canvas apron on the header quickly carried the windrow up into the feeder, where the crop was hungrily swallowed up by the combine.  Inside the combine the grain was threshed and separated from the straw and other chaff.  As the combine began progressing across the field, clean threshed oats began pouring out of the top of the grain elevator and began sliding down the chute into the grain tank on the combine.  Meanwhile, the oat straw and chaff was dumped on the ground behind the combine The “straight-through” design of the Clipper combine meant that the straw was left on the same stretch of ground that had been occupied by the original windrow. The feeder platform with the pickup attachment were on the right side of the Clipper combine.  Accordingly, Arno looked over his right shoulder to watch the windrow being picked up by the combine.  It was a good thick windrow which made the little 25 horsepower (hp.) Wisconsin engine labor as the combine swallowed up the windrow.  This thick windrow suggested the crop was a good crop.  Indeed, Arno had only to turn around a little more in his seat, to look directly behind him at the stream of oats pouring down the chute from the grain elevator into the grain tank to realize that the 1948 harvest would be a bumper crop of oats.  Indeed, Arno began to wonder if he would be able to complete the full round of the oat field before he having to break off and go empty the grain tank. He had parked a wagon just outside the field into which he intended to empty the grain tank after each round of the field with the combine.  Combining along the third side of the field he could see a little mound of yellow oats appearing above the rim of the grain tank.  He was worried that the tank was getting full and might overflow before he completed the entire round.  Accordingly, Arno stopped the combine along the third side of the field when he felt he could not go any further without losing some oats due to overflowing the grain tank.  He dismounted the tractor to raise and lock the platform header in the fully up position by pulling the platform height control lever.  Mounting the pickup attachment on the platform header made the header much heavier than it would otherwise have been with only the cutter bar and the reel attached.  To be sure, the lifting of the platform header was actually accomplished by two large coil springs located under the platform.  However, the platform height control lever controlled the compression or decompression of the coil springs, the coil springs actually lifted the platform.  Each coil spring also had a huge adjustment nut which could be tightened or loosened.  Indeed, part of the procedure of attaching the pickup to the platform header required Arno to crawl under the platform and tighten the adjustment nut on each coil spring to help compensate for the additional weight of the pickup on the platform header.  When he removed the pickup attachment and attached the reel again for the soybean harvest in the fall, he would again crawl under the header to loosen the adjustment nuts to compensate for the loss of weight caused by the removal of the pickup.  Still even with the springs working with him to lift the platform, the height control lever was difficult enough to require Arno to get off the tractor to get a secure footing to operate the lever.  Raising the lever to its full up position locking it there would hopefully keep the pickup high enough to pass over the un-harvested windrow and leave it undisturbed.  Still, as the tractor pulled the combine along the field the header bounced up and down with the bumps and unevenness in the field—proof once more that the coil springs were actually holding the platform header up. Arno exited the field though the gate and pulled the combine down to where the wagon was parked.  Pulling along side the wagon, he stopped the tractor and reach around behind him to pull the control that disengaged the rest of the combine from the grain elevator.  Then he once again engaged the clutch of the combine, now only the grain elevator was operating.  Now, he dismounted the tractor and walked back to the grain tank.  He swung the elevator chute out of the grain tank and positioned it over the wagon.  Then he walked around behind the combine to move the control lever to open the trap door at the base of the grain tank.  This allowed oats to flow out of the grain tank into the grain elevator again.  This time, however, when the oats poured out of the top of the elevator they slide down the chute into the wagon. Scooping up a handful of the oats from the wagon, Arno admired the bright yellow color of the crop.  Unlike past years when the oats in shocks might spend days or weeks in the field after being cut, these oats had spent no more than two days exposed to the weather and their bright color proved it.  Furthermore, as Arno poured the oats from one had to the other hand, he was pleasantly surprised to see very few oat hulls and chaff in the oat crop. When the tank was empty, he pulled the clutch control on the combine and then closed the trap door at the bottom of the grain tank and then he pushed the control lever that re-connected the grain elevator with the rest of the combine.  With the lever controlling the height of the platform securely locked in the full up position, Arno climbed back up into the operators seat of the Model 30 tractor and once again carefully negotiated the combine back through the first gate to the oat field.  Then rather than wasting time driving back to the location on the third side of the field where he had broken off combining, Arno decided to combine counter clock-wise that part of the outside windrow back up to the location on the third side of the field where he had left off combining.  Accordingly, he lined the header up with this outside windrow and lowered the platform height control lever to allow the skids under the header and pickup attachment to once again slide along on the stubble ground.  Then he accelerated the Wisconsin engine and slowly pushed the combine clutch control in to engage the whole combine.  He did this slowly, because he had learned how hard it was to start the little air-cooled Wisconsin engine once it stalled in hot weather.  (This problem with the Wisconsin VE-4 engine is discussed in two articles, one is  entitled “The Case Model NCM Baler and the Family’s Crucial Year” published in the January/February 1995 issue of Belt Pulley magazine and the other is entitled “ Wisconsin Built Engines” published in the September/October 2004 issue of Belt Pulley magazine.) After combing along the outside windrow all the way back to the position on the third side of the field where he had broken off combining, Arno carefully turned the combine around again to line up with the second windrow from the fence and then proceeded to combine the rest of the second windrow to the starting point by the gate.  During the first round of the oat field, even though he was combining the second windrow from the fence, the left rear wheel of the tractor was still running perilously close to the fence.  Therefore, in addition to watching the windrow and the combine on his right he had to cast frequent glances over at the fence on his left to check the proximity of the left rear wheel in regard to the fence.  Another item that he frequently watched up to this point had been the windrow that he was straddling.  He had to make sure that the narrow front wheels of the tractor and the right rear wheel of the tractor both missed stayed off the first windrow.  If the wheels rolled over the windrow, most of the oats in that windrow would be “threshed” out right on the ground and would be lost.  This he wanted to avoid as much as he could.  However, now, after having combined the first windrow up to the third side of the field this was one thing that he no longer needed to worry about.  He could drive over the threshed straw as much as he wanted without worry of lost of crop.  This meant that he could steer the front end of the tractor so that they could roll over the straw.  In this way, the left rear wheel could stay a little further from the fence and provide a better margin of safety against running into the fence with the wheel.  All he had to do was to be sure that the windrow remained in line with the teeth of the pickup on the combine, so that none of the windrow would slip past the edge of the pickup and be left on the ground in the field.  One of the advantages of the Massey-Harris pickup attachment was that occupied the entire width of the six-foot platform and cutter bar.  There was a small portion on either side of the Massey-Harris pickup that had no teeth.  Thus, this small space on either of the pickup was unusable to pick up the windrow.  However, this left nearly 5 feet of the pickup with teeth that could be used.  Generally the windrow was about 18 inches to two (2) feet in width.  Accordingly, there was nearly three feet of usable space (perhaps a foot and ½ on each side of the normal 2 foot band in the center of the pickup)  that could be employed to allow the tractor to be driven perhaps a foot further from the fence. When Arno reached the end of his first full round at the starting point, where he had begun making the round, the second windrow blended automatically into the third windrow from the fence.  However, before taking the combine up that third windrow, Arno pulled the combine out of the field and once again emptied the grain tank into the wagon.  Even though the grain tank was not entirely full, Arno wanted to have the tank entirely empty before starting out on the next round.  This would allow him to get as far around the field as possible before breaking off in mid round with a full grain tank as he had done before. The windrows in the field had been made in this pattern of concentric rectangles each inside the previous rectangle.  Arno would keep following this series of concentric rectangles with the tractor and combine.  Each concentric rectangle became progressively smaller as he pulled the combine clockwise around the field.  With each round he came closer to making the entire round before having to empty the contents of the grain tank into the wagon.  About the time that he made the first entire trip around the field he found that his wagon was full.  He then had to unhook the combine from the tractor and hitch the tractor to the wagon and take the wagon up to the granary.  There the wagon was emptied into the elevator at the granary and the elevator carried the oats up to the roof of the granary and deposited the oats into the one of the separate bins inside the granary.  This crop was so large that he soon filled the bin in the granary and had to find other places to store the oat crop.  In desperation he even filled the brooder house.  The chickens that had last used the brooder house were now big enough that they were spending their nights outside in the trees around the yard.  They no longer returned to the brooder house.  So he cleaned the dry manure out of the brooder house and swept the wooden floor clean and began filling the brooder house with oats.  Next February, he and Lois would have to use the brooder house to raise a new crop of baby chicks.  He vowed that he would use the oats first when he fed the laying chickens or when he ground feed for the pigs and for the milk cows.  He vowed that the oats in the brooder house would be gone by next February.  Arno and his neighbors set a nearly set a new record harvest of oats for Blue Earth County with 4,686,400 bushels harvested county wide.  Second only to the 1945 all time record of 4,822,200 bushels harvested in Blue Earth County (From the web site of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Agricultural Statistical Service on the Internet).  Traditionally, oats are not a cash crop.  Rather they tend to be used on the farm as a food source for animals.  However, the abundant supply of oats in 1948, was compounded by the fact that in the post-war era, many farms were getting rid of their horses in favor of tractors as a power source for their farming operations.  Consequently, with this over supply of oats on the average farm, many farmers began thinking of selling oats for the first time and many did.  As a result, the oat market which had risen from its wartime price of 83¢ per bushel in December of 1946 to a high of $1.42 per bushel in January of 1948, suddenly fell to 72¢ per bushel in August 1948 under the weight of the bumper crop of that year and the decreased demand on the average farm for oats because there were fewer work horses on the average farm that ever before.  Arno and other farmers felt that the price was so low that it was not worth selling oats.  They felt that a better alternative was to find ways to store the excess oats on the farm as a hedge against a bad oat harvest in the future. Arno Shull had been able to complete his oat harvest in two or three long days in the first week of August.  After completing the oat harvest, he Arno returned to cultivating his corn one last time before the corn became too tall to fit under the frame of his Massey-Harris mounted two-row tractor cultivator.  However, he did not have much time to get entirely over the corn before a rain storm in the second week in August dropped 2¼ inches of rain on the ground in one night.  This stopped all field work.  Furthermore, the ground had not dried out sufficiently when later the same week another ½ inch rain continued to prevent a return to the fields.  Arno could not help thinking of where he would be if he had not purchased the Clipper combine that year.  He might still be waiting to have the thresher show up on his farm to get his oats threshed.  Meanwhile, the shocks in the field would be catching all the wind and rain. The delay alone would have caused loss as some oats would have been knocked off the shock and fallen directly onto the ground because of the adverse weather conditions. Arno was not the only farmer with a new combine in 1948.   Many farmers across Blue Earth County had purchased combines that year.  Arno also believed that the increased efficiency of the combine as opposed to the stationary thresher method of harvesting was reflected the production figures of his oat harvest.  He had grown more oats per acre this year than in 1945.  Indeed, Blue Earth County had almost broken the record oat harvest of 1945 and the farmers of the county had done so by harvesting less acres of oats—more oats on less acres.  The yield per acre was increased from 54 bushels per acre in 1945 to 58 bushels per acre this year—in 1948.   The weather and growing conditions in 1945 and 1948 were almost identical.  What, then, would explain the increase in yield?  Arno felt that the increased efficiency of the combine as opposed to the stationary thresher was the answer.  In addition to the losses incurred by the oats sitting in the field awaiting the arrival of the stationary thresher, Arno knew that all the handling of the bundles of oats for the stationary thresher, loading them onto wagons and carrying them to the stationary thresher and then handling the shocks one more time to unloaded from the bundles from the wagon into feeder of the stationary thresher.  This repeated and constant handling of the oats created substantial losses of oats—since a substantial number of the individual oat seeds were shaken loose and fell to the ground. On the other hand, once the oats were windrowed, the only additional handling of the oats occurred when the combine pickup attachment would gently lift the windrow up and place it on the feeding platform of the combine.  Once on the canvas apron of the feeding platform the oats would taken quickly up to the cylinder of the combine.  There was very little chance for the individual oat seeds to fall off (or “thresh”) onto the ground due to handling.  The great number of combines in use in 1948 and the resulting reduction of crop loss could well explain the new record yield of oats in 1948 as opposed to 1945, when the stationary thresher was still in widespread use. As the post-war years rolled by, more and more farmers turned to owning their own combines as opposed to belonging to a threshing ring.  In the spring of 1950, another Massey-Harris pull type Clipper combine was left the Massey-Harris branch house in Des Moines, Iowa aboard a Chicago-Great Western train en route to LeRoy, Minnesota (1950 pop. 959).  The city of LeRoy was in Minnesota, but just barely.  LeRoy was located about ½ a mile from the Minnesota-Iowa border.  In actual, rail connections between LeRoy and Des Moines, Iowa were more direct that were the rail connections to Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota.  Accordingly, it made sense, that the Massey-Harris branch house in Des Moines would serve the local Massey-Harris dealership in LeRoy rather than the branch house in Minneapolis.  The local Massey-Harris dealership in LeRoy was the Orke-Regan dealership. Just like the Arno Schull Clipper combine, the individual pull-type Clipper combine that arrived at the Great Western depot in LeRoy, Minnesota on board a railroad flat car, was also fitted with its own auxiliary power source—the Wisconsin VE-4 air-cooled engine.  Just like most small combines shipped to the Midwest, this Clipper also arrived accompanied with a windrow pickup attachment.  However, rather than a Massey-Harris pickup attachment, this Clipper was shipped with a pickup attachment manufactured by the Innes Company of Bettendorf, Iowa.  Since 1948, the Massey-Harris Company had been getting negative reports back from the field regarding their own Massey-Harris pickup attachment.  With frequent use in the fields, oat straw tended to get caught between the between the cracks on the Massey-Harris windrow pickup attachment and become wrapped around the axle on the inside of the pickup attachment.  To avoid this wrapping problem, the Massey-Harris company had begun to ship their new Clipper combines the Innes Company pickup attachment. The Innes pickup attachment was manufactured to fit many of the small pull-type combines on the market.  The Innes pickup attachment was not the traditional “spring-finger” type of pickup with a stationary shield with slots through which the spring teeth moved to lift the windrow.  Rather the Innes pickup attachment consisted of a cylinder with holes in the cylinder through which “stiff-finger” type teeth protruded.  In operation on a combine the entire cylinder of the Innes pickup would revolve.  When the cylinder of the pickup turned the stiff finger teeth inside the cylinder would protrude the slots and reach their maximum extension at the bottom and forward part of the cycle. At this stage the teeth would pickup the windrowed crop.  At the cylinder of the pickup continued to turn, the stiff fingers would each begin to retreat again back inside the cylinder.  Right at the top of the cycle the teeth would disappear entirely into the cylinder.  This was the point at which the windrow was passing the windrow off to the apron on the platform of the feeder.  There was no room for the straw from the windrow to wedge between the tiny holes in the cylinder and begin to wrap around the axle of the pickup located on the inside of the cylinder.  Any wrapping of straw that occurred with the Innes pickup would be around the outside of the cylinder.  However, even this type of wrapping was unlikely because the teeth were totally retracted back into the cylinder.  Even if wrapping occurred around the outside of the cylinder, it was far easier for the farmer to deal with this type of wrapping than to deal with the type of wrapping that occurred under the slotted shield of a traditional pickup.  (A history of the Innes Company of Bettendorf, Iowa and a further description of the “stiff finger” windrow pickup is contained in article called “The Innes Company” published and  contained in the May/June 2005 issue of Belt Pulley magazine and is also reproduced on this website.) The Orke-Regan Massey-Harris dealership knew from recent past experience that this particular Clipper combine, that arrived in LeRoy in the spring of 1950, would not stay in their inventory very long.  Like most Massey-Harris dealerships across the nation, the Orke-Regan dealership was finding that the Clipper combine was a hot selling item.  Their instincts were correct.  The combine was soon sold to a young farmer in LeRoy Township by the name of Wayne A. Wells. Wayne A. Wells was one of the mass of veterans of the Second World War that had returned to the farm of their parents at the end of the war in 1945-1946.  In 1947, Wayne had married Marilyn J. Hanks.  Together they had taken over the farming operation from his parents, George and Louise (Schwark) Wells.  George and Louise had retired from farming and were now living in a house on Mather Street in the town of LeRoy. As the economy of the United States transitioned from a wartime economy back to a civilian economy, a period of inflation set in during the immediate post-war years.  Some price supports for farm prices were reinstated to help farmers during this period of transition.  By 1948, however, the last of the farm price supports was removed.  However, by this time the market for farm prices was more stable than it had been during the transition period.  With the profits from the crops they sold in the fall of 1948, Wayne and Marilyn traded their old 1937 Plymouth car, (called “Felix”) in to the McRoberts Plymouth-DeSoto dealership in LeRoy on a new 1949 Plymouth Tudor Sedan.  Like Arno Schull, Wayne Wells understood that mechanization of the farming operations was the only way to survive on the family farm in the new world of post-war America.  Accordingly, despite the removal of the price supports and despite the decline of agricultural prices in 1949, Wayne financed a large contract with the Cease & Okansen Dealership, the local International Harvester dealership in LeRoy to purchase a Farmall M tractor, a McCormick-Deering “Little Genius” 3-bottom plow with 14 inch bottoms, a four-row Model 438 mounted cultivator, a four row McCormick-Deering corn planter and a Model 25 semi-mounted sickle-bar mower with a 7-foot cutter bar.  In exchange for this equipment, Wayne traded in the 1942 Farmall Model H tractor, the two-row McCormick-Deering Model 238 mounted cultivator and the John Deere two-bottom Model 82 plow that his father, George Wells had obtained during the war.  He would like to traded more machinery in on this purchase, like the McCormick-Deering trailing mower with a 5-foot cutter bar, the McCormick grain binder and the John Deere dump rake.  However, all this machinery was horse-drawn farm equipment.  Despite the fact that the hitching tongues of these particular pieces of farm equipment had been shortened to allow them to be pulled by the Farmall H, all of this farm equipment was regarded as worthless in the eyes of the dealership in the post-war era.  During the early summer of 1950, Wayne Wells also visited the Orke-Regan Dealership, which was located directly across Main Street from the Cease & Okansen dealership.  There he talked with Stub Orke and signed a contract to purchase the Massey-Harris pull-type Clipper combine that had just been delivered to the dealership a couple of weeks previously. The colder than average winter of 1949-1950 had ended in late March of 1950 and had been followed by a warmer than average spring.  Nonetheless, a cold snap at the end of April, and a rain storm in early May, which resulted in an inch of rain, delayed spring planting of the corn.  In the short period of time without rain in mid-to-late May, Wayne was able to complete the planting of his corn.  With the new four-row corn planter, planting of the corn did not take long.  Additionally, this new planter was equipped with four fertilizer boxes, one for each of the four rows of the planter.  The corn planter would trip uniformly and plant four hills of corn.  The press wheels, on the rear of the planter would roll over the hills of corn and compact the soil over the seeds.  Immediately, behind the press wheels, the fertilizer dispenser was timed to dump about a teaspoon of granulated fertilizer on the surface of the ground above each hill of corn.  This was the first year that Wayne had fertilized his corn field with commercial fertilizers.  The fertilizer had a significant impact on the corn.  It sprouted much earlier than usual and grew much faster.  The old saying referring to the growth of corn, “Knee high by the fourth of July” was outdated in this new age of commercial fertilizers.  The corn was growing so fast that it was well above the knee despite the late planting. Wayne was cultivating his corn for the third time and admiring this growth of his corn during the first week of July.  Cultivation of the corn with the new four-row cultivator surely did not take nearly as long as it used to.  Rainy weather returned in mid-July and continued for the remainder of the month.  When the hot dry weather returned again at the beginning of August, it was time to windrow and harvest the oats.  Consequently, Wayne parked the Farmall M under the elm trees behind the wood shed and removed the four-row cultivator from the tractor.  He then attached the Quik-Tach drawbar to the rear of the Farmall M.  Then he backed the tractor up to the McCormick-Deering Model 25 mower. As a semi-mounted mower, the Model 25 McCormick-Deering mower bolted on to the drawbar of the Farmall M at two locations.  The frame of the mower was triangular in shape.  At the rear of the mower was a single caster wheel.  The attachment to the drawbar was flexible to allow the caster wheel of the mower to carry the weight of the mwer even as the tractor and mower rolled over slight rises and dips in the ground.  This feature allowed the cutter bar to stay at the same height of cut despite the changing topography of the field.  Wayne had used the mower one already for his first cutting of hay earlier in the summer.  Now, when he pulled the mower out into the yard, he stopped in the shade of the elm tree near the shop.  He removed the grass board located at the end of the cutter bar of the mower.  Then he attached the windrowing attachment to the back of the bar. He had purchased this windrowing attachment from Sears, Roebuck and Company.  The Sears catalogue had advertised this windrowing attachment in sizes available for all popular horse-drawn and tractor-powered mowers currently on the market.  Weighing only 130 lbs., the 7-foot windrowing attachment, Wayne had purchased for his Model 25 mower had cost $29.00 plus delivery charges from the factory in Osh Kosh, Wisconsin to the local Sears store in Spring Valley, Minnesota located 12 miles northeast of the Wells farm. As noted above, Wayne had taken over operation of the 160-acre Wells farm from his parents George and Louise Wells in July of 1947 when he had married Marilyn Hanks.  In order to preserve and restore nutrients to the soil of the farm, George Wells had “rotated” he crops on his farm from field to field on an annual basis.  The annual rotation progressed from corn to oats to hay and then to pasture and then back to corn again.  Sometimes a field would stay in pasture land for two years before being plowed and planted into corn.  Since 1947, Wayne had continued this crop rotation system.  This morning, after he had finished milking the herd of dairy cows, he had released the cows from their stanchions in the barn.  The herd of Holstein and Milking Shorthorn cows backed out of their stanchions and made their way slowly out of the barn into the cow yard.  From there they started down the fenced lane that let to the fields of the farm.  All the gates to the fields were closed except the gate leading to the field on the southeast corner of the farm.  In the summer of 1950, this field was in its second year as pastureland.  Accordingly, this field would have to plowed this fall and planted to corn the next spring.  The field on the southwest corner of the farm was the hay field in 1950.  As soon as the oats were harvested, the hay in this field would be cut and baled for a second time.  This was the “second cutting” of hay that would be harvested.  Next year this hay field would become the pasture. Now as Wayne drove the Farmall M and Model 25 mower down the lane, he pulled into the gate leading to the field that was immediately adjacent to the north side of the pasture.  This was the oat field in 1950.  Once inside the field, he knew that he had better close the gate behind him.  In the heat of the day the cows would be walking by the gate from that pasture on their way to the cow yard to get some water out of the cow tank.  Each cow could drink up to 300 lbs. of water daily.  Seeing the gate open to the oat field the cows might be tempted to take a detour into the field and to eat some newly windrowed oats. Wayne pulled up along the edge of the field with the left rear tire of the Farmall M near the fence.  He got down of the operator’s seat and walked around to the right side of the mower and unbolted and lowered the cutter bar of the mower to the ground.  It was another nice crop of oats.  The crop was tall and the recent rain storms in July had not blown down or “lodged” too much of the crop.  This was a good indication that the crop would be plentiful this year even if the crop was not a bumper crop.  The oats were yellow and ripe for harvest.  However, under his feet, Wayne noticed the young green alfalfa, red clover, timothy and alsike cover plants trying to push up through the oats.  This was a “double crop” field.  The oats were a “cover crop.”  The quick growing oats would be harvested this year.  At the same time, the “under crop” of clover, alfalfa, timothy and alsike would become next year’s hay crop.  Next year this field would be the hay field in the crop rotation plan.  During the present year the under crop of hay would be not be cut. Rather the small plants would be allowed to grow all year to develop a good root system for next year’s growth. Growing two crops at the same time, had meant that the population density of both crops had to be reduced.  If oats alone had been planted in the field, Wayne might have planted seed oats at a rate of 3½ bushels per acre.  However, because an under crop of hay was being planted at the same time, Wayne had adjusted the seeding rate of his end gate seeder to a rate of 2½ bushels per acre.  Had Wayne been sowing hay alone, he might have set the adjustment on the grass distributor to spread hay seed at a rate of 15 pounds per acre.  However, because he was sowing both oats and hay at the same time, he had cut the rate of distribution of hay seed down to only 10 pounds per acre. Wayne had seeded the oats in this field last spring with his McCormick-Deering end-gate seeder which fit and bolted securely into the end gate of his triple box wagon.  The rest of the triple box wagon was filled with oats.  A durlap sack of full of hay seed was placed on top of the load of oats.  As Marilyn, his wife, or David Fogel, the hired hand, drove the tractor across the field, Wayne shoveled oats into the large hopper of the end gate seeder.  He also periodically checked the small grass seeding attachment hopper which was attached to the rear of the large hopper of the end gate seeder.  Every so often as the tractor and wagon continued to move across the field, Wayne would take the coffee can and open the durlap sack and scooped out three or four can-fulls of hay seed and pour them into the grass seeding attachment hopper.  The end gate seeder and the grass seeding attachment were both powered by a sprocket which was attached to the left rear wheel of the wagon and a chain that ran up from the large wheel sprocket to a smaller sprocket attached to the end gate seeder.  A lever on the side of the end gate seeder controlled a clutch which allowed the seeder to be inoperable while the seeder was transported to the field.  However, once in the field and once the clutch was engaged, revolving drums at the bottom of both the large oat seed hopper and the small grass seed attachment hopper turned at a pre-set rate and metered out just the right amount of seed as the tractor rolled across the field.  The seed that was metered out of the hoppers fell directly onto flat rotary fan-type distributors which revolved at a fast rate of speed.  These distributors flung the seed out laterally in back and to the sides of the wagon. The grass seed in the durlap sack was a blend of seeds Wayne had purchased at the Farmers Co-operative elevator uptown in LeRoy, Minnesota.  The mixture of seed consisted of four (4) parts red clover, three (3) parts alfalfa, two (2) parts timothy grass and one (1) part alsike clover.  The most tasty parts of the hay for cattle were the broadleaves and flowers of the alfalfa and the red clover plants.  However, both alfalfa and red clover were legumes with broad leaves and consequently were top heavy.  As a result, they tended to sprawl rather than grow straight up toward the sun.  Thus, these plants, when planted alone, tended to lodge in even slight winds and become difficult to mow.  Sturdy and straight timothy, on the other hand, with its shallow root system, tended spring up out of the ground early and offer real physical vertical support for the sprawling legumes.  Alsike clover was also a legume, but was shorter than alfalfa and red clover.  However, alsike was more rugged than the other three plants in the hay mixture.  Alsike could winter over in better condition than the others and could stand up better in wet soil conditions.  As a result, despite its minority status (only 10% of the original planting mix), the slow growing alsike clover was expected become more populous as time went by.  If this field were to become a pasture in subsequent years, the grazing of the dairy herd would soon leave the alsike clover as the only major crop growing in the field.    However, if, as Wayne currently intended, this hay field would be plowed a year from this coming fall, the alsike clover along with the other two legumes would add a great deal of nitrogen to the soil. The roots of these legumes had nodules which contained a good bit of nitrogen.  Plowing under this hay crop under would release the nitrogen to the soil of the field.  For this reason,  legumes were called “green fertilizer” or “green manure.”   Taking two cutting of hay off the field next year, would however, reduce the root mass of the individual plants.  Less root mass also meant less nodules full of nitrogen.  Therefore, the legumes would lose part of their value as a nitrogen source for soil.  In subsequent years, as the dairy herd was turned loose into the old hay field to graze, the legumes would lose even more nitrogen.  For this reason, Wayne sometimes kept the same pasture for two years rather than plowing it under every year.  Instead, he would plow the hay field to take advantage of the nitrogen in the roots.  The real decision in this matter would consider the condition of the pasture at the end of the summer.  A dry summer might cause the pasture to be over grazed and cause Wayne to plow it under afteronly one year and move the dairy cows onto the old hay field. Currently, however, as Wayne looked down at these new little hay plants under his feet, Wayne knew that cutting and windrowed the oats would free the young hay plants from the shade in which they had existed until now.  From this point on, the plants would begin receiving the full value of the sun light rather then existing in the shadow of the cover crop of oats.  The hay crop would winter over in the coming winter season and next year the hay would grow to full maturity and be harvested.  All Wayne had to do at this stage was avoid cutting the young alfalfa and clover plants off at ground level as he windrowed the oats. A lift lever on the Model 25 mower allowed Wayne to lift the “inner” end of the cutter bar nearest the pitman.  However, to stabilize the “outer” end of the cutter bar and hold the cutter bar at height above the tops of the new growth of hay and, thus, avoid cutting the new hay plants, Wayne had attached a small gauge wheel to the outer end of the cutter bar.  Wayne was anxious to see how the new windrowing attachment on the mower would work.  With the cutter bar lowered into the oats, this small wheel at the at the end of the cutter bar rested squarely on the ground.  The gauge wheel was adjustable.  Wayne checked the height of the cutter bar to see if the gauge wheel on the outer end of the needed to needed to be adjusted.  Having made the proper adjustments necessary, Wayne climbed back up on the operator’s seat of the Farmall M and reached back with his right hand to the latch and handle of the cutter bar lift lever.  This lever allowed his to adjust the inner end of the cutter bar.  Then he pushed in the clutch pedal with his left foot and reached down to the back edge of the platform with his right hand and pulled up on the wire ring lever that engages the power take-off (p.t.o.) of the tractor.  Shifting into third gear and slowly releasing the clutch, the tractor simultaneously moved forward and the sickle in the cutter bar began cutting the crop.  As the crop fell backwards over the cutter bar, the gentle curves of the windrowing attachment curled the whole six-foot wide swath of oats into a narrow golden windrow with the heads of the oats tucked safely inside the windrow. On this first trip around the entire field, Wayne kept the right rear wheel of the Farmall M as close to the fence as possible.  He moved in a clockwise direction around the outside perimeter of the entire field.  He was not actually cutting the swath of oats nearest the fence.  He was actually driving the tractor and mower over these oats nearest the fence.  As he made this first trip around the field, the wheels of the Farmall M and the single wheel of the mower tread upon the outer most six-feet of oats.  Completing the first entire circuit around the field he turned the corner near the gate where he had begun the round.  Immediately without stopping the mower was lined up on the next seven-foot section of uncut oats.  He steered the front wheels of the tractor so that they ran along beside the windrow of oats he had just made.  As he moved along, the windrow passed under the left axle housing of the Farmall M untouched by either the front wheels or the left rear wheel.  He wanted to leave the windrow as undisturbed as possible, so as not “thresh” the oats in the windrow and have the oats fall onto the ground and be wasted.  He kept making circuits of the field each smaller than the previous circuit until the field was filled windrows forming a series of concentric rectangles. After making a few entire circuits of the entire field, Wayne would turn the tractor around and proceed in a counter-clockwise direction around the field as he cut and windrowed the outer swath of oats nearest the fence.  As he did so, he had to be sure get the outer end of the cutter bar caught in the wire fence.  Then he returned to the place where he had left off making the windrows in the inner part of the field and began again making circuits of the field in a clock-wise direction again. Thanks to the favorable drying weather in August of 1950, Wayne was able to complete the windrowing of the oats and begin combining the crop immediately.  With the reel of the combine and the sickle of the combine already removed and the Innes pickup already attached to the feeding platform, Wayne hitched his Farmall M tractor to the Clipper combine and took it to the field.  After he got the combine in the field, he checked the tension on the belts of the combine one more time.  Then he started the little Wisconsin engine with the hand crank that had been provided.  Next he opened the throttle of the air-cooled engine.  Then he crawled up into the tractor seat and reached around behind him to to carefully push in the cluth lever of the combine.  The combine came alive and began to shake with activity.  The dark blue Innes pickup formed a nice contrast to the Massey-Harris red color of the rest of the combine and the golden brown of the windroed oats lying on top of the stubble and the green of next year’s hay crop peeking up through the stubble.  Wayne shifted the Farmall M into second gear and maneuvered the steering wheel of the tractor so that the feeder platform and the Innes of the combine was lined up with the second windrow in the field.  Once again he would make a few rounds of the field in a clockwise direction, before reversing direction with the combine and move in a counter clo-wise direction to combine the first or outer most windrow in the field.  The combine worked well gobbling up the windrows in the field. Wayne’s only concern arose at the corners of the field.  The windrower sometimes left a large clump of oats and straw at the corners of the windrows When this clump made its way over the Innes pickup and up the canvas apron on the feeder platform Wayne always pressed in the clutch of the tractor to stop all forward of the combine and reach around to grab the clutch control of the combine.  The 21 hp air-cooled Wisconsin engine seemed designed to meet the power requirements of the Clipper combine when the cutter bar and the reel were mounted on the combine for standing crops.  However, with the power demands of a windrow pickup subtracting from the engine there was precious little reserve power available to meet the demands of threshing a heavy portion of the windrow such as these the clump of grain at the corners of the field.  Sometimes it was wiser to stop the tractor, disengage the combine clutch and dismount the tractor to spread out an especially large clump. Wayne always held his breathe while the clump made its way into the cylinder and he heard the little Wisconsin engine buckle down under the strain of the additional load.  Chances were strong that the little Wisconsin engine would stall while the clump was only half-way through the cylinder.  Wayne knew from experience that when the little Wisconsin engine stalled on a hot summer day, it would be nearly impossible to start immediately.  When the Wisconsin VE-4 engine did stall there was really nothing to do but to wait for the engine to cool before attempting to start it again.  Waiting during the busy harvest season was an exasperating experience. This year, as Wayne made his way around the outside of the oat field for the first time, he found that the 25-bushel grain tank was full before he finished making the entire circuit of the field.  This was another indication that He took the tractor out of the gear and disengaged the clutch of the combine As he did so he heard the Wisconsin rev up to its maximum rpm with no load on the engine.  Wayne dismounted the tractor and made his way back to the Wisconsin engine to release the throttle to allow it to idle.  Wayne believed that this sudden revving up without a load on the engine was hard on the engine.  Later, Wayne would fashion a cable and small pulley system on the combine that would allow him to release throttle from the drivers seat of the tractor.  That way he could reduce the time that the engine revved up to full rpm without a load. As Wayne dismounted the Farmall M, he could see his father, George C. Wells, comin across the field with a wagon.  Both Wayne’s parents, George and Louise Wells had driven out to the farm from their home uptown in their dark blue 1946 Ford sedan, to help out with the harvest.  Louise could help out with dinner and the care of Wayne and Marilyn’s one year-old son—the current author.  Pulling the wagon across the field, George was driving the 1936 Minneapolis-Moline Model MTA tractor.  After he had retired George had purchased the MTA and a john Deere two-bottom plow with 14 inch bottoms in order to help out with the field work on the farm.  Although an older tractor, the Model MTA was fitted with factory-installed rubber tires front and rear, mounted on drop-center rims with cast iron centers. Today, George had arrived on the farm in time to see Wayne already in the field with the combine.  He started the MTA with its hand crank and hitched the tractor to a wagon and started for the field.  Arriving at the field he had started crossing the field in a counter-clock-wise direction.  He drove carefully to keep the wheels of the tractor and the steel wheels of the wagon off the un-combined windrows in the field.  As his father pulled the wagon along side the Clipper combine, Wayne pulled the gear shift control lever on combine which disengaged the all operation of the combine except for the grain elevator.  Then he engaged the clutch of the combine.  The idling Wisconsin engine had no trouble handling the light load of operating the grain elevator.  Then Wayne dismounted the tractor seat and turned the spout of the grain elevator around out of the bin on the combine and directed the spout into the wagon.  Then he moved to the rear of the combine and moved a lever at the bottom of the grain elevator.  This control lever opened a door at the bottom of the grain bin on the combine.  Oat then began pouring out of the 25-bushel grain bin into a pipe with a small auger that carried the grain to the grain elevator.  Oats began pouring out of the grain elevator and sliding down the chute into the empty wagon.  Soon the yellow mound of oats seen sticking above the rim of the grain bin began to sink down out of sight into the grain bin.  In no time at all the grain bin would be empty.  There was just enough time for a drink of cold water out of a quart jar that George had brough out the field from the house and just a little time for Wayne to discuss with his father whether the crop looked as though it would make 45 bushels to the acre or not this year.  Wayne said that when he reached the corner by the gate, he would empty out the grain bin again before heading off on another round of the field again.  In later years, Wayne would add a wooden frame extension to the top of the grain bin in order to increase the capacity of the grain bin.  So that he could make even the outer most entire round of the field without making a stop to empty the grain bin.  Later still, Wayne would design and weld a hitch that would be bolted to the combine to allow a wagon to be towed alongside and be filled as the oats were harvested. Wayne did not raise soybeans on his farm, but he had a chance to use the Clipper combine while doing some custom harvesting of soybeans in the fall of 1961 for a neighbor, LeRoy Wyatt. Throughout the 1950s technological advances in farm production occurred at an accelerating rate.  By the ene of the 1950’sbecaused of those advances in technology, the individual North American farmer was able to produce more agricultural products.  Whereas in 1950, the average farmer in the United States could feed himself and 27.2 other people, by 1960 this same farmer was feeding himself and 46.2 other people.  Because of this increase in the productivity, surpluses and low prices for farm commodities was the order of the day throughout the 1950s.  Since the end of World War II, soybeans had become an important part of agricultural production.  Surpluses in the production of soybeans had driven the price of soybeans from $2.72 per bushel down to 2.00 per bushel in 1958.  In 1959, soybean prices reached the bottom of $1.97 per bushel before starting to climb again.  The rise in soybean prices in 1960, gave encouragement to soybean farmers again.  This was a signal that demand had finally caught up with production.  The surpluses were one. Agricultural market forecasters began to assert that the turn around in prices was the start of another long period of increasing prosperity for North American farmers.  Anticipating that that 1961 would bring another increase in the price of soybeans, LeRoy Wyatt rented a 400-acre piece of land and proceeded to plant the entire piece of land in soybeans. The soybeans grew well all summer and the price of soybeans remained high reaching $2.53 per bushel in August of 1961.  So far, LeRoy Wyatt’s plan was working out well.  However, the wet weather in the fall of 1961 threatened his plans.  The wet conditions caused LeRoy to fall behind in harvesting the vast amount of soybeans he had planted.  Accordingly, LeRoy decided to hire other farmers in the neighborhood to help him harvest the soybeans. Wayne Wells accepted the invitation to perform a little custom harvesting with his combine.  He removed the Innes pickup attachment from the feeder platform and reinstalled the sickle in the cutter bar and installed the reel on the feeder of his Clipper combine.  The first two weeks of November of 1961 offered a respite from the autumn rains.  And farmers from around the neighborhood gathered to harvest the soybeans.  However, after the first day on the still moist ground, Leroy Wyatt requested that his neighbors use the smallest tractors they had to pull their combines.  In this way, he sought to avoid having his fields heavily rutted by large tractors. Wayne had another tractor, a 1941 Farmall Model B tractor.  He returned home to reluctantly modify the drawbar of the Farmall B to pull the combine.  If only the Clipper combine required a PTO power source rather than the little Wisconsin engine.  Then Wayne would have an excuse to keep using the Farmall M with the combine.  The Farmall B did not produce enough power to power the combine as well as pull the combine.  This late in the year a “heat-houser” had already been placed on the Famall M for the comfort and warmth of the operator in the expected cold weather of the late autumn.  However, the Farmall B had no heat houser.  It promised to be a cold job working on the Wyatt soybean farm.  Luckily, unseasonably warm weather prevailed in early November—some days reaching 60°F. But the Farmall B was inconvenient to use for other reasons.  While the Famall B had an electric starter, battery and generator, the tractor had no lights and could not be driven at night.  Marilyn would have to drive over the Wyatt soybean farm to pick up Wayne at the end of every work day.  Wayne’s reluctance to employ the Famall B in this task was not shared by the Wells children—the current author, his brother and his sister.  The Farmall B was the favorite tractor of the children and they felt that the little tractor was being called on at this crucial time to save the harvest in 1961. Wayne welded together a 6-inch metal I beam with some metal straps to form a raised drawbar that was then bolted to the wide drawbar of the Farmall B tractor for the remainder of the season so it cold pull the combine.  The Famall B pulled the Clipper combine for the remainder of the harvest season on the Wyatt soybean farm.  The entire soybean harvest was completed before the first snow fell in mid November. LeRoy Wyatt fit a national trend.  A new record of nearly 27 million acres of arable land in the United States were planted to soybeans in 1961.  The growing season had been so favorable in 1961, that only 2.8% of the total acreage planted in soybeans had been lost due to flooding and other natural calamities.  Thus, a new record national yield of 25.1 bushels of soybeans per acre was reached in 1961, resulting in 678,554,000 bushels of soybeans coming to market in 1961.  Mower County was slightly behind the national average with 24 bushels per acre but nonetheless, the county set a new soybean production record of 1,749,600 bushels.  Despite the heavy crop, the price of soybeans continued to climb.  It reached $2.51 per bushels as a yearly average for the entire year of 1961. Even though harvesting soybeans did not require the same power drain of a windrow pickup mounted on the combine and, although the cool weather did not create the same hot engine conditions as did the blazing sun of July, the Wisconsin engine on the clipper remained the main worry for Wayne as he worked the combine in the fall of 1961.  Finally in the winter of 1961-62 Wayne purchased another Clipper combine from a junk yard.  The only difference between this Clipper and the combine he already owned was that the junk combine had a seven-foot cutter bar and feeding platform and contained a PTO shaft connection shaft rather than a Wisconsin engine.  The junk combine was designed and built to be powered from the PTO shaft of  the tractor that was simultaneously pulling the combine. It was this PTO connection on the junk combine that interested Wayne Wells and was the reason why he purchased the junk Clipper combine.  He removed the PTO shaft from the junk combine and replaced the Wisconsin engine from his own combine with the PTO connection shaft.  Now the combine would be powered by the same tractor that was pulling the combine.  For this job a three-plow tractor was recommended.  Delivering 25 hp. to the drawbar and 33 hp. to the belt pulley/PTO the Farmall Model M was well within the three-plow category to handle the job of powering as well as pulling the Clipper combine in the field.  However, the Farmall B which delivered only 13 hp. to the drawbar and only 16 hp. to the belt pulley/PTO was definitely too small to power and pull the Clipper combine in field operations.  Consequently, from this point on, the Farmall B could not be used to operate the combine.  Wayne Wells’ past experience trying to start the Wisconsin engine on hot days in the field was another very persuasive reason why Wayne made this switch of power sources for his Clipper combine.  However, perhaps also in the back of his mind, was the fact that never again could he be forced to use the Farmall B to pull the combine as he had been during the time that he worked on the Wyatt farm. Meanwhile, back in rural Blue Earth County, Anro Schull was having his own problems with the Wisconsin engine on his Clipper combine.  Although his combine was fitted with a Massey-Harris windrow pickup attachment which may have placed less load on the power source of the combine that the Innes pickup attachment, Arno still found that the Massey Harris pickup attachment placed demands on the Wisconsin engine that kept the engine working near the top of its capacity without any reserve power.  Thus, Arno also found that the engine would stall under the additional load of any clump or heavy section of windrow in the field.  Arno also learned that the Wisconsin engine was hard to start on hot days of the harvest season.  Accordingly, Arno fixed a drill bit for his ¾ inch electric drill which would fit the crank hole of the Wisconsin engine.  This provided him with a kind of electric starting for the Wisconsin.  However, the fault with this system was that Arno needed to have the combine near a electrical outlet to use this “electric starter.” Many people have related similar experiences of the difficulties they had with the Wisconsin VE-4 air-cooled engine in hot weather.  Many people have speculated as to what the problem actually was that created difficulty in re-starting the engine when it stalled in hot weather.  Previous articles have quoted Ed Bredimier of the J.I. Case Collectors Association, saying that the problem was related to a combination of the extremely short stroke of the VE-4 engine (3¼ inch stroke and a 3 inch bore) along with the fact that the motor oil became too thin when the engine was hot, resulting in a lack of vacuum being created by the pistons and a lack of a sufficient air/fuel mixture being received into each cylinder.  Thus, only when the engine cooled to the point where the oil once more thickened would the engine start. Anther theory is that the problem was due to the fact that the engine block was in the shape of a V and the Zenith or Stromberg carburetor was located right in the valley of the V.  When the engine was hot all the gasoline in the carburetor would evaporate.  Thus, until the engine cooled sufficiently, there would be no gasoline at all in the air mixture drawn into the cylinders. James Schull, son of Arno, grew up to become a small engine mechanic by trade.  He has another theory.  James points out that not only was the carburetor located in the valley of the engine, where the heat escaping from the stalled engine would necessarily be the hottest, but also the magneto was also located in the valley of the engine as well.  James alleges that the excessive amount of heat produced by the stalled engine would also cause the magneto to malfunction.  Thus, no spark would be available to the spark plugs until the engine and the magneto had been allowed to cool. There probably us a number of reasons why the Model VE-4 engine would not restart after stalling on a hot day, but whatever the specific reason, the little Wisconsin engine caused frustration to many farmers.       As noted above, Wayne Wells removed the engine from his combine.  Arno Schull, eventually, ceased using his Clipper combine altogether for and sought to have his oats and soybeans custom harvested.  The Wisconsin Model VE-4 engine from the Schull combine was eventually removed from the combine by James Schull and was mounted on a home-made chassis with a differential and a rear suspension from a 1949 Plymouth.  This became a go-kart for the Schull children and the visiting Wells children.

Massey-Harris Farming (Part II): Arno Schull of Mapleton Minnesota

Massey-Harris Farming (Part II):

Arno Shull of Mapleton, Minnesota


Brian Wayne Wells

As published in the May/June 2004 issue of

Belt Pulley Magazine

            Regular readers of the Belt Pulley magazine will remember that Mankato, Minnesota lies at the bend in the Minnesota River Valley where the river makes an abrupt turn from flowing to the southeast and heads north to the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul.  (See the article “The Wilmar Thrun 1937 John Deere Model B (Short Frame) Tractor [Part 1: The Mankato Implement Company”] at page 16 in the March/April 2002 issue of Belt Pulley magazine.)  U.S. Highway No. 22 makes its way southward out of Mankato, Minnesota up out of the Minnesota River Valley.  Also as previously noted following Highway 22 south reveals a sudden topographical change in scenery.  (See the article called “The Wilmar Thrun 1937 John Deere Model B (Short Frame) Tractor [Part 2]” contained in the May/June 2002 issue of Belt Pulley magazine.)  Almost as though passing through a doorway, one emerges from the hilly tree-covered land of the valley and comes out onto the open prairie.  The prairie is flat as a tabletop and basically treeless except for the clumps of trees that surround the building sites of the farms that dot the scenery.  Out on the prairie, one can see a building site of farms in every direction, even those that are some distance away.  Nine (9) miles south of Mankato, U.S. Highway 22 passes through the small-unincorporated hamlet of Beauford, Minnesota.  Five (5) miles further south, the highway arches eastward around the village of Mapleton, Minnesota (1940 pop. 1070) located in southern Blue Earth County.

            Running directly eastward out of the center of Mapleton is Blue Earth County Road No. 21.  One mile east on County Road No. 21 brought a person to the intersection with County Road 159.  In 1944, one mile south on County Road No. 159 and on the right side of the road, was the farm of Carl F. and Emma (Truebenbach) Schull located on the west side of the road.  Carl Fredrich Wilhem Schull, Jr. had been born in Pommern, Germany to Carl Sr., and Caroline (Papke) Schull on July 31, 1869.  In 1881, when young Carl Fredrich was aged eleven years, the family which consisted of Albert, Henry, Gustav and Caroline in addition to Carl Frederich, immigrated to the United States.  The family first settled in Lime Township of Blue Earth County, just west of Mankato.  Carl Frederich grew up in Lime Township.  As an adult, Carl struck out on his own and moved to his own farm east of Mapleton in 1899.

On October 25, 1899, he married Emma Truebenbach.  They began a family which would eventually consist of six children, George, Fred, Earnest, Rosine, Walter and Arno.  Arno Schull, the youngest child, was born on February 26, 1917.  Most of the corn, oats and hay, they raised in the fields on their 120 acre farm was fed to the herd of Holstein dairy cattle they milked, the pigs that they raised and, of course, the horses that they used in their farming operations.  The older sons grew up, got married started farming operations and families of their own.  Rosine, the family’s only daughter, also married and left the farm.  By 1944, only 27 year old Arno was left on the farm to help his father.  However, in that year life suddenly took a sharp turn for the family when Carl Frederich was struck down by a heart attack while working in the family garden on the morning of Wednesday October 11, 1944.  He died almost immediately.  All responsibility for running the family farming operation, then fell mainly on Arno’s shoulders.  Like most sons on many family farms across the nation at this time, Arno had new ideas on how the farming operation could be improved.  One of his main new ideas was the acquisition of a modern farm tractor.  He knew that by mechanizing farm power rather than relying on the horses, he could save much time and effort in the farming operation.  However, he was unable to purchase a tractor immediately.  Under the economic restrictions in place during World War II, purchase of new farm tractors was drastically curtailed and even the used machinery market was greatly restricted.  Immediately, upon V-J Day on September 1, 1945, signaling the end of the World War, economic restrictions were lifted.  However, the abrupt ending of the government restrictions triggered a period of spiraling inflation through out 1946.  Consequently, government price controls were re-imposed.  Arno had to postpone his dream of having mechanical power on his farm.

However, during this period of time, changes were occurring in Arno’s personal life.  He attended a dance for young people held in the nearby town of Butterfield, Minnesota, (1940 pop. 511.)  At this dance, he met Lois Dreeszen, who was a local grade school teacher in the Butterfield Public School.  Lois Dreeszen had been born to the family of Roy and Florence (Groschens) Dreeszen of Aitken, Minnesota (1940 pop. 2062.) on June 16, 1925.  Following graduation from high school, Lois entered Mankato State Teachers College in the summer of 1944.  Ordinarily, the State of Minnesota required two years of college training to qualify for a teacher’s certificate in order to become a grade school teacher.  Because of the high demand for school teachers at the time, Mankato State Teachers College had a course of instruction by which a person could obtain a two-year teacher’s certificate by attending college for one summer, an entire school year and the next summer.  This was the program in which Lois Dreeszen enrolled in June of 1944.  Following this course of study, Lois accepted a teaching position in Butterfield, Minnesota in the fall of 1945.  However, after meeting Arno Shull at the dance they fell in love and were married on June 6, 1946.  Accordingly, Lois ceased her teaching career after the single school year and she moved to the Shull farm with Arno and became a homemaker.  Arno and Lois also started a family which eventually included three sons, James born on October 24, 1947, Glenn born on October 5, 1948 and Curtis born on November 12, 1950, and a daughter Lynette born on November 14, 1953.  (As noted elsewhere, the current author’s mother, Marilyn [Hanks] Wells, graduated from Mapleton High School in Mapleton, Minnesota, in June of 1944.  [See the article called “The Papec Company of Shortsville, New York: Part II” on page 17 of the January/February 1996 issue of Belt Pulley magazine.]  Marilyn, too, enrolled at Mankato State Teachers College in June of 1946.  There she met and became close friends with Lois Dreeszen.  Over the years, Marilyn and Lois remained in close contact and, consequently, the children of the Schull family and the present author, and his siblings became and remain close friends.)

Young farmers like Arno Schull of Mapleton, Minnesota were part of the same exact demographic group that was being studied by farm tractor manufacturers.  One of these tractor manufacturers was the Massey-Harris Company Ltd. of Racine, Wisconsin.  Massey-Harris was rather late in getting into the tractor market.  Indeed as noted in the previous article in this series, the company had tried three times to find a tractor design that would be a popular sales item with the farming community.  As noted in the previous article, only in 1928, when the Massey-Harris Company acquired the rights to manufacture and sell the Wallis tractor was the company successful in entering the tractor market in a major way.  The Wallis tractor was a very advanced design of tractor.  The Wallis tractor was the first tractor designed with an entirely enclosed power train.  This was the famous U-frame design that was first introduced on the Wallis Cub tractor in 1913.  (Michael Williams, Massey-Ferguson Tractors [Blandford Press: London, 1987] p. 29.)  The enclosed power train was so popular that soon all the other tractor manufacturers would copy this design for their own tractors.

The Massey-Harris Company continued the production of the Wallis Model OK (also known as the Model 20-30) tractor.  Indeed Massey-Harris expanded their tractor line by adding the smaller Wallis Model 12-20 to the line of tractors offered by the company.  By 1936, the company had modified the design of the Model 12-20 to make their first row-crop tractor—the Challenger tractor.  (C.H. Wendel, Massey Tractors [Motorbooks International Pub.: Osceola, Wisc., 1992] p. 50.)  Besides being a row-crop tractor, the Challenger contained several improvements over the Model 12-20.  The Challenger had a four-speed transmission as opposed to the three-speed transmission of the Model 12-20.  (Michael Williams, Massey-Ferguson Tractors, p. 35.)  The Challenger was able to deliver 26.21 horsepower to the belt.  (C.H. Wendel, Nebraska Farm Tractor Tests [Crestline Pub.: Osceola, Wisc., 1993] p. 99.)  While the Model 12-20 delivered only 20.32 horsepower to the belt.  (Ibid., p. 66.)

Nonetheless, the Massey-Harris Company realized that the design of the Challenger was really a mere modification of the same tractor design that had been developed in 1913.  Thus, the design was badly out of date in the late 1930s.  Consequently, Massey-Harris engineers set to work on a totally new design for a row-crop tractor.  In 1938, the Company went into production with this radically new design.  The tractor was called the Model 101 Junior.  The power unit for the new Model 101 Junior was outsourced by Massey-Harris.  The company signed a supply contract with the Continental Motors Company of Muskegan, Michigan, for purchase of sufficient numbers of Continental’s four-cylinder Model WFA “Red Seal” engines for installation into the new 101 Junior tractors that were being built at Massey’s Racine, Wisconsin, tractor manufacturing facility.  Testing of the Model 101 Junior at the University of Nebraska on May 22 through May 26, 1938 revealed that the Continental-powered 101 Junior delivered 19.44 horsepower to the drawbar and 27.57 horsepower to the belt.  (C.H. Wendel, Nebraska Farm Tractor Tests p. 131.)  The 101 Junior was a radical departure from all previous Wallis/Massey-Harris designs.  The tractor was fitted with a mechanical lift under the seat for raising the cultivator.  The operator need only step on a pedal on the operator’s platform to raise and/or lower the cultivator with this mechanical lift.  Battery power, a generator, electric lights, electric starter and rubber-tires were widely popular options available on the 101 Junior.  Not only was the Model 101 Junior a modern row-crop tractor, but also it was “styled” in the modern fashion with extensive sheet metal covering the radiator and power train.  In the late 1930s nearly every other tractor manufacturing company was exploring “styled” designs for their tractors.  Industry leaders, International Harvester and John Deere did not introduce their line of “styled” tractors until 1939.  Thus, the 101 Junior moved the Massey-Harris Company to the forefront of modern tractor design a year ahead of the competition.  Also in 1938, Massey-Harris introduced the larger Model 101 Senior with a six-cylinder Chrysler engine.  In 1942, the company also introduced the smaller Model 81 row-crop tractor.  These tractors were also styled tractors.  Nevertheless, the two-plow 101 Junior proved to be the most popular selling tractor in the Massey Harris line of tractors.  Even with the wartime restrictions in place, Massey-Harris sold 34,668 Model 101 Junior tractors from 1938 until the end of 1945 of this number 27,371 were the row-crop version of the tractor.  In 1940, the 124 cubic inch Continental engine in the Model 101 Junior was replaced by a 140 cubic inch Continental engine.  In 1942, this engine was replaced by the 162 cubic inch Model MFB Continental engine.

With the end of the Second World War, the huge pent-up demand for new farm tractors and farm machinery was unleashed.  However, the farming public was demanding larger tractors with conveniences like hydraulic power and a wider range of speeds.  In answer to this demand, the Massey-Harris Company updated the Model 101 by adding a 5th gear to the transmission of the Model 101 Junior.  In 1948, the mechanical lift of the 101 Junior gave way to the new hydraulic system for lifting the cultivator.  This hydraulic system consisted of a hydraulic cylinder located under the operator’s seat which would raise or lower the rockshaft to which the cultivator was attached.  This hydraulic system was such a popular option with Massey-Harris farmers that Massey-Harris offered the hydraulic cylinder and appropriate linkages as a kit that could be purchased for retrofitting onto Massey-Harris tractors originally fitted only with the mechanical lift.

The changes made to the 101 Junior were significant enough to require a change in the model number of the new tractor.  Accordingly, the Massey-Harris Model 30 tractor was born in 1946.  However, production of the Model 30 in any sort of large numbers began only in 1947.  (From the Belt Pulley Serial Number Index, p. 24.)  The Model 30 tractor was manufactured in either a kerosene or a gasoline version and in either a standard or a row crop style.  (From the Production Records located on the “Unofficial Massey-Harris Home Page on the Internet.)  The Model 30 continued in the role of best selling tractor in the Massey-Harris line until 1949.  A role previously occupied by the Model 30’s most immediate and direct ancestor, the Model 101 Junior.  From 1946 until 1951, over 29,000 Model 30 tractors were built and sold.  (Ibid.)

Just like the late-model 101 Junior, the new Model 30 was fitted with a Continental “Red Seal” Model MFB 162 cubic inch engine.  When tested at the University of Nebraska, the Model 30 developed 20.64 horsepower at the drawbar and 30.09 at the belt pulley.  (C.H. Wendel, Nebraska Farm Tractor Tests, p. 147.)  Design of the Model 30 provided for a fifth gear in the transmission.  As noted above, from 1948 onwards, a new hydraulic system was integrated into the design of Model 30 tractor.  Thus, the Model 30 was well adapted to the farming needs of the post-World War II economy and sales of the Model 30 reflected this fact.  Another change that was made to the 1948 Model 30, was somewhat cosmetic in nature.  The throttle control lever was moved from its former position on the right side of the steering column behind the steering wheel to a new position between the legs of the operator.

As noted above, Massey-Harris manufactured 3,438 gasoline-fueled row-crop Model 30 tractors in 1948.  These tractors were shipped from the Racine, Wisconsin factory to the network of Massey-Harris dealerships spread throughout North America.  Some of these gasoline-fueled row-crop Model 30 tractors made in 1948 were shipped to the W.J. Nelson Implement dealership in Amboy Minnesota, (1940 pop. 576).

Amboy was located on Minnesota Route 30 which passed east and west through town.  Just outside of town to the west, lie the intersection of Route 30 and U.S. Route 169.  Small as Amboy was, it is quite surprising to note that in 1948, the town contained farm machinery dealerships offering nearly every brand name of tractor and/or every brand name farm equipment across the whole United States.  Because of the heavy preponderance of farm equipment retailers, the small town of Amboy became known as the “Farm Machinery Capitol of Southern Minnesota.”

The W.J. Nelson Dealership was founded in Amboy in 1919 by William J. (Bill) Nelson. Bill Nelson had been born in Vernon Center, Minnesota in 1892.  Vernon Center (1940 pop. 355) is another Blue Earth County town, was located just five miles north of Amboy on U.S. Route #169.  In June of 1918, a year before founding his dealership, Bill had married Frieda Deljen.  Frieda was the daughter of John and Ernestine (Benzel) Deljen of rural Mapleton Township.  Together they would eventually have a family of two sons, Roger and Willard Nelson, and a daughter, Glee Helen.

The Nelson Dealership obtained the franchise to sell Allis-Chalmers, farm equipment and tractors, and the franchises to sell Packard cars and Dodge trucks and cars.  The dealership did well and later, sometime after 1929, Bill Nelson obtained a franchise to sell the tractors and implements manufactured by the Oliver Farm Equipment Corporation of Charles City, Iowa.  It is not known, precisely, when Bill Nelson obtained a franchise to sell Massey-Harris farm equipment, but it could well have been immediately after the Massey-Harris Company purchased the rights to produce the Wallis tractor in 1928.  (See the previous article in this series in the March/April 2004 issue of Belt Pulley magazine for the story of this purchase.)

The wartime economic restrictions placed on the nation’s manufacturing companies during the Second World War severely restricted the amount of farm machinery that the W. J. Nelson Dealership could obtain and sell to the farming public.  However, once the war was over the wartime restrictions were lifted.  The demand for farm machinery, which had been pent up for the nearly four years, during the United States’ involvement in the Second World War, came bursting into the market place.  Anticipating the flood of new business, the W.J. Nelson Dealership moved, in 1946, from their location in the center of the business district in Amboy to the intersection of Minnesota State Route 30 and United States Route 169 on the west edge of town.  In their new location, the dealership began another period of tremendous growth based on the new post-war tractors and farm machinery available from the Massey-Harris Company—particularly the new two-plow Model 30 Massey-Harris tractor.

Under normal free market conditions individual farmers are faced with a two-edged sword.  On the one hand they hope for a bumper crop to bring to market.  On the other hand bumper crops usually result in surplus products in the market and result in low prices.  Thus, a large bumper crop can be as bad as a small crop for the farmer’s economic survival.  Since 1941, farmers had been encouraged to raise as much crop as they could to support the war effort.  The federal government had provided a financial incentive for farmers to raise a great deal of farm commodities.  (From a Columbia Encyclopedia article called “Agricultural Subsidies” (2001) found on the Internet.)  By setting very high government subsidized price supports for various farm commodities, the government removed one of these problems facing individual farmers.  Thus, during the war Arno Schull and his neighbors worried less about the threat of a bumper crop resulting in low prices.  Instead they concentrated only on raising as much crop as they possible could and getting as much of that crop to the market as possible.

When the war ended, the high price supports were left in place as the United States attempted to feed war-torn Europe, through the Marshall Plan.  Thus, thanks to government price supports, farm commodity prices remained relatively high throughout 1947 and 1948.  Arno Schull knew that he would be assured a relatively high price for his crops, especially corn, at harvest time if only he could get enough of the crop to market.  Now if only weather would cooperate.

However, in southern Blue Earth County, Minnesota, the outlook for the weather in the fall of 1946 did not look good.  The rains began in the fall of 1946 and did not stop.  (Regular readers of the Belt Pulley magazine will remember the effect of the rain in 1946-1947 on another family in the article called “The Case NCM Baler and a Family’s Crucial Year” in the January/February 1995 issue of Belt Pulley p. 31.)  The constant rains continued into the spring and early summer of 1947.  Because of the extremely wet spring and summer of 1947, spring planting that year was badly delayed.  Hopes for a decent crop were rapidly fading.  With the late planting, it was feared, the growing season would just not be long enough to allow the crops to mature.

Fortunately, the rains eased somewhat in July of 1947, but still, there did not seem to be enough time to allow the corn to mature.  As the fall progressed, Arno was pleasantly surprised to see that the harvest season remained unseasonably warm and dry.  Furthermore, the drying weather continued well into the winter months.  This happy circumstance allowed Arno’s corn to fully mature and allowed him to get all the corn picked and safely stored away in the corncrib.  The corn not used on the farm was shelled and sold in the spring.  With the income from the corn and milk from his farm, Arno made a decision to mechanize his farm.

As noted above, the lifting of the wartime economic restrictions at the end of the war set off a period of intense inflation.  (Harry S. Truman, Year of Decisions [Doubleday & Co.: Garden City, New York, 1955] p. 488.)  By December of 1945, the wartime restrictions and price controls were re-instituted in an attempt to control inflation.  Only in July of 1947 were the wartime economic restrictions finally lifted.  (Ibid.)

Now in the spring of 1948, Arno Schull finally felt the time was right to obtain a tractor.  He visited his local his local Massey-Harris dealership—the W.J. Nelson Dealership in Amboy, Minnesota—and signed a purchase agreement for a new Massey-Harris Model 30 tractor.  The purchase agreement also included a Model 34 Massey-Harris mounted cultivator with spring trip teeth.

Because of the delay in the harvesting of the crops in the fall of 1948, Arno had not completed all of the fall plowing on his farm.  Now in the spring of 1948 warm weather arrived sooner than usual.  Even in early April, the temperatures during the day were in the high 70s.  For plowing with the new tractor, Arno had purchased a McCormick-Deering Little Genius two-bottom tractor plow with 16” bottoms.  The Model 30 tractor handled this plow well even in the hard black gumbo soil of Mapleton Township.  Arno was pleased to note that plowing in the spring of 1948 proceeded at a much quicker pace than would have occurred had he been forced to continue farming with the horses that year.  No longer did he have to stop at the end of the field each time across the filed to rest the horses.

The warmer temperatures in 1948 continued throughout the spring.  May 1948 was unseasonably warm as temperatures reached 90 degrees.  (Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport Daily Maximum/Minimum Temperatures for 1948 located on the Internet.)  Thus, spring planting was completed early, unimpeded by the weather.  The corn sprang up out of the ground in the warm weather and, soon, Arno was back in the cornfield with the Model 30 and the mounted Model 34 cultivator.  For this first cultivation of the corn, Arno attached the shields to the cultivator.  The shields protected tender shoots of corn from being covered up and crushed by the large clods of gumbo soil that were rolled up by the cultivator shovels.

The temperatures during the month of June in 1948 were actually cooler than the temperatures had been in May with temperatures reaching no higher than the low 80s for most of the month.  (Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport Daily Maximum/Minimum Temperatures for 1948 located on the Internet.)  Thus, the initial cultivating of the young corn was almost a pleasure.  Nearly every day during the month of June of 1948 a short rain occurred.  (Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport Daily Rainfall Amounts for 1948 located on the Internet.)  However, the rains were usually less than 2 to 3 tenths of an inch.  This was just enough to keep the corn growing properly, but not enough to prevent him from doing his fieldwork.

As the Model 30 and the cultivator approached the end of the field, Arno slowed the Model 30 tractor a little more with the throttle located between his legs on the operator’s platform.  Then he pulled on the hydraulic control lever also located between his legs just behind the throttle.  The pipes linking the front cultivator units with the rear cultivator unit which passed between the fenders of the operator’s platform on either side of the operator’s seat of the Model 30 tractor, moved forward and the shovels of the Model 34 cultivator were lifted out of the ground just before the front wheels of the tractor passed over the first of the eight (8) end rows planted at each end of the field.  Arno touched the right brake to bring the front end of the tractor around to be aligned with the next two rows of uncultivated corn.  Then he pushed ahead on the hydraulic control lever and the cultivator shovels were dropped into the ground and then he readjusted the throttle to a half-way position on the quadrant and the tractor headed out across the field again.  The whole turn could be accomplished without even disengaging the clutch.  Arno was pleasantly surprised with the progress he was making on the cultivation of the corn, cultivating two rows at a time with the tractor as opposed to cultivating only one row at a time with the horses.  He appreciated the fact that he did not have to raise the cultivator by use of hand levers at the end of the rows.  The cultivator was effortlessly and quickly raised by the tractors hydraulic system.

Heading back across the field with the new tractor and cultivator, Arno could hear the excited calls of the Killdeers who were tending their nests, which were built directly on the ground in the corn field.  He could see the adult Killdeers feigning broken wings in attempt to draw attention away from their nests which were now filled with unhatched eggs.

Early July 1948 saw the return of very hot weather as the mercury climbed to temperatures in excess of 100 degrees Fahrenheit.  (Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport Daily Temperature Amounts for 1948 located on the Internet.)  The unseasonably mild days of June were left behind.  Furthermore, the first two weeks of July saw no rain whatsoever.  (Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport Daily Rainfall Amounts for 1948 located on the Internet.)  As he cultivated his corn for the second time in July, Arno worried that the corn would be stunted in growth by the lack of water.  However, as he cast his eyes over to the oat field, he could see that the oats were ripening nicely in the intense heat and dry weather.  With income he had received from the milk, the pigs and sale of some of the excess corn not used as feed, Arno had revisited the Nelson Dealership to purchase a Massey Harris pull-type “Clipper” combine.  (The story of this combine will be included in the next article in this series on Massey-Harris farming.)  Soon he would be returning to the fields with the new combine to harvest the oats.

The rains returned in late July and continued into August of 1948, just as he was attempting to harvest the oats.  (Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport Daily Rainfall Amounts for 1948 located on the Internet.)  Luckily these periodic ½ inch rains did not ruin his oat crop which was lying in windrows waiting to be harvested.  The thirsty corn, however, lapped up all the moisture that the rains could supply.  The Massey Harris Model 30 tractor had speeded up the process of cultivation of the corn and also had allowed him to get the combining of the oats completed without damage from the rains.  By the time of the large 2” rain storm which struck in mid August all the grain was safely under cover.

With the oats already harvested, the corn to tall for any more cultivating and the ground too wet for any other type of field work, it was a good time for Arno to catch up on a little of his favorite hobby—fishing.  After the cows had been milked in the evenings of mid-August he was able to get away in the family car to go fishing for Blue Gills at his favorite fishing spot—Cottonwood Lake, a small fishing lake located on the Landsteiner farm not far from his own farm.

The Massey-Harris Model 30 tractor helped Arno Schull get his corn crop raised and harvested.  Thus he was able to take full advantage of the supported commodity prices of 1948.  By the year 1949, the war-torn agricultural economies of Europe and Asia had recovered.  Those countries ceased buying United States food products.  Surpluses of grain began to build up and farm prices declined.  The year 1949 was a year to merely be endured and 1950 looked much the same from the outset.  However on Sunday June 25, 1950, North Korean Troops crossed the 38th parallel on the divided Korean Peninsula and invaded South Korea.  (Joseph C. Goulden, Korea: The Untold Story of the War [Times Book Pub.: New York, 1982] p. 50.)  By Friday June 30, the United States was already mobilizing troops to defend South Korea.  (Ibid., p. 109.)  In September of 1950, the federal government re-instituted war time restriction on wages, prices and, credit and brought back wartime rationing of consumer goods and farm equipment.  (Harold Underwood Faulkner, American Economic History [Harper & Row Pub.: New York, 1960] p. 717.)

However, anticipating greater need for food around the world, United States farm commodity prices once again rose.  (See the Columbia Encyclopedia article called “Agricultural Subsidies” cited above.)  Once again farmers sought to expand and modernize their farming operations.  The effects of this new demand were felt at farm equipment dealerships around the nation.  After a short dip in sales in 1949, the Nelson Dealership, once again, noticed a strong demand for farm equipment starting in late 1950 spurred by the demands of the Korean War.  Since October of 1949, Bill Nelson had been retired from active management of the dealership.  Management of the dealership was not in the hands of Bill’s sons, Willard W. and Roger J. Nelson.  Despite the re-introduction of restrictions on the manufacture of farm equipment, Willard and Roger still had less trouble obtaining farm machinery than their father had had during the Second World War.  Other Massey Harris dealerships across the nation shared these experiences.  One dealership in particular was the Pimper Dealership of Howells, Nebraska (1950 pop. 784).

Like the W.J. Nelson Dealership, the Pimper Dealership had been established in the years immediately following the First World War—in 1919 or 1920.  Founded by Al Pimper, the dealership started as a “battery station” serving the Howells community.  The Howells battery station supplied electrical batteries for the home electric generating systems that were in use in some residences and on some farms.  (Regular readers of the Belt Pulley will remember that a home electric generating system using Excide batteries was used on the John T. Goff farm near Mapleton, Minnesota.  [See the article called “The Papec Company of Shortsville, New York: Part II” on page 16 of the January/February 1996 issue of Belt Pulley magazine.])

Al Pimper married Beatrice Chudomelka of rural Dodge, Nebraska.  She was the daughter of Don Chudomelka who presided over a variety of activities on his farm north of Dodge.  The Chudomelka farm was a busy place with a dance hall, a roller skating rink and a scale for weighing truckloads of grain.  Every building on the Chudomelka farm was covered in corrugated metal.  Thus, the farm became known as “Tin City.”  In addition to operating the dance hall, operating an ice skating rink in the winter and doing custom weighing of grain for the neighborhood, Don and his two sons operated their own farm and also found time to do custom threshing in the neighborhood with their own Case steam engine and large Case thresher.

Settling in Howells with her new husband Beatrice traded one busy situation for another as the Pimper Dealership sought to supplement the battery business and obtained the franchises to sell cars for the Ford Motor Company, the Maxwell Motor Company of Detroit Michigan and to sell the Whippet car and the Willys/Knight car for the Willys-Overland Company of Toledo, Ohio.  When the Maxwell Motor Company became the Chrysler Corporation in the middle of 1925, the Pimper Dealership became a sales outlet for Chrysler cars.  Later, in 1935, as the Ford Motor Company sought to build a sales network composed of exclusive dealerships, the Pimper Dealership lost their Ford franchise.

In the late 1920’s probably 1929, the Pimper dealership obtained a franchise to sell farm machinery for the Oliver Farm Equipment Company.  This was the Pimper Dealership’s first excursion into the farm equipment market.  However, it was not until the Pimper Dealership obtained the franchise to sell Massey-Harris farm machinery in the late 1930s that the dealership really found its notch.  Al Pimper was aided in the successful dealership by a number of different factors.  First, his son, Al Pimper Jr., who had been born in 1923 was now of high school age.  During his time out of school, Al Jr. was employed in the parts department at the dealership.  Additionally, the Pimper Dealership developed a good working relationship with the Massey-Harris Branch House in Omaha, Nebraska, and with Larry Dimig, the District Manager.  This favorable relationship assured the Pimper Dealership of sufficient amounts of tractors and machinery to keep its inventory full at all times.  At times the dealership ordered six or seven railroad carloads of machinery at one time from the Branch House.

Just like the W.J. Nelson Dealership, the Pimper Dealership experienced ups and downs in sales in the post World War II era.  In 1951, with high prices for farm commodities fueled by the Korean War, the Pimper Dealership was once again selling Massey-Harris tractors and farm equipment.  One of the 4,118 Model 30 tractors manufactured by the Massey-Harris Company in 1951 was the Model 30 bearing the Serial No. 15095.  Number 15095 was shipped from the tractor factory at Racine, Wisconsin, to the Branch House in Omaha, Nebraska.  Larry Dimig placed No. 15095 on a trainload of machinery destined for the Pimper Dealership.  Accordingly, No. 15095 arrived in Howells, Nebraska, in the early spring of 1951, on board a Chicago and Northwestern Railroad flatcar with some other Massey Harris farm equipment sent from the Branch House in Omaha.  The tractor did not spend long in the inventory of the Pimper Dealership before it was sold to Joe Vogel, a local farmer in rural Howells.  Joe and Catherine (Becker) Vogel operated a 40-acre farm near Howell’s Nebraska, the family of Joe Vogel, was raising pigs, milk cows and some chickens.  Most of the arable land of the farm was used to produce corn and alfalfa which was used to feed the animals on the farm.  By 1951 their son, Gilbert had married Marilyn Molacek and had started taking over the farming operations from his father.  The family already had a John Deere Model B with a tractor plow and a mounted two-row cultivator.  Thus, when the Massey-Harris Model 30 was purchased the purchase contract did not include a tractor plow or a cultivator as might have been expected.  Joe Vogel appreciated the fact that the tractor was fitted with hydraulics and purchased a Duncon hydraulic loader to mount on the Model 30.

The Model 30 tractor functioned well on the Schull farm in 1948 and during the following years.  It was the sole tractor on the farm until 1956 when Arno purchased a new Massey-Harris Model 333 tractor.  Although a row crop tractor, this particular Model 333 was fitted with an adjustable wide front end and had the optional three-point hitch.  These two features would keep the Model 333 a useful part of the farming operations through the 1970s.  Indeed, the present author used the Model 333 to cultivate corn with a six-row rear mounted cultivator on the Arno Schull farm the in summer of 1970.  Meanwhile, the Model 30 continued as a second tractor on the farm.  When the tractor became so worn out, in the early 1960s, that it needed major work done to it, Arno and his oldest son, James, purchased another Model 30 from a junkyard and combined the two tractors to make a single tractor.  The restored Model 30 continued on the Schull farm for many more years.

Likewise, No. 15095 continued working on the Vogel farm.  Frequent use of the Duncon loader on No. 15095 created pressure on the front wheels of the tractor and required the Vogels to replace the wheel bearings and other parts on the front end of the tractor.  However, this was the extent of the major repairs that No. 15095 required during its working life.  In 1982, No. 15095 was sold to John Mlnarik.  (John Mlnarik is the father of Glen Mlnarik who has long served as a national board director of the International Harvester Collectors Association.)  John Mlnarik had operated an International Harvester dealership in Howells, Nebraska and now lived in retirement in nearby Dodge, Nebraska.  In 1992, John Mlnarik advertised No. 15095 for sale and the tractor was purchased by Fred Hanks of LeRoy, Minnesota.  No. 15095 was fully restored and painted in the summer of 2003 in anticipation of the August 26-29, 2004 Le Sueur County Pioneer Power Show.  As previously noted the 2004 Pioneer Power Show will host the national summer convention of the Massey-Harris Collectors.  No. 15095 will be present along with many other Massey-Harris tractors and farm machinery.  Just as the restored No. 15095 stirs memories of other Model 30 tractors which have played a part in North American agriculture, so too will the other Massey-Harris farm equipment surely stir memories of the past with the many attendees at the Show.  For a trip down memory lane be sure to be there and reminisce.

Massey-Harris Farming (Part I): The Oltrogge Family of Waverly, Iowa

                   Massey-Harris Farming (Part I):

The Oltrogge Family of Waverly, Iowa


Brian Wayne Wells

 As published in the May/June 2004 issue of

Belt Pulley Magazine

German immigration to the United States began as a trickle in the 1830s, but by the period of time from 1846 to 1855, German immigration had reached a peak when more than a million Germans emigrated into the United States.  (Maldwyn Allen Jones, American Immigration [University of Chicago Press: Chicago, 1960] p. 110.)  More than half of the German immigrants coming to the United States at this time moved to the Upper Mississippi and Ohio River valleys.  (Id., p. 118)

Arriving at the end of this wave of German immigration in 1856 was a 36-year old young man, William Frederich Oltrogge (known as Frederick or Fred), and his 34-year old wife, Sophia.  Together with their two daughters, Sophia ages 6 years and Caroline age 2, they had boarded a ship for the United States.  The Oltrogge family had been originally from Hessen, or the State of Hess, in the west central part of Germany near the large city of Frankfort.  The Rhine River formed the western boundary between Hess and the Prussian Province of Rhineland.  The Kingdom of Bavaria which lay to the south of the State of Hess.

The reasons that Frederick and Sophia brought their family to this country are not known.  However, some clues might be found in the facts surrounding the immigration of the Oltrogge family.  The fact that the Oltrogge family came to the United States with a group of people they had known in the State of Hess and the fact that immediately upon their arrival, in 1856, they establishing a Lutheran congregation and then a year later in 1857, they erected the St. John’s Maxfield Lutheran Church, suggests that there may have been a religious motive in their immigration to Iowa.

During this period of time Germany was not yet a unified nation.  Instead the German speaking lands were divided into a patchwork of small kingdoms and princely states.  These small states were constantly warring against each other for one reason or another.  However, Martin Luther and the Reformation of 1520 and the Thirty Years War (1618-1648) had the effect of further splitting the German states along religious lines.  The states of the northern part of Germany became predominately Protestant (Lutheran), while the southern states remained Roman Catholic in religious persuasion.

The State of Hess was one of the middle states of Germany—not part of the predominately Lutheran north, nor part of the mainly Catholic southern part of Germany.  As a consequence, the people of Hess were, themselves divided in religious affiliation—65 to 68% Protestant and 26 to 32% Roman Catholic.  (James K Pollack and Homer Thomas, Germany in Power and Eclipse [MacMillan & Co. Pub.: London, 1952] p. 442.)  Ever since the Reformation, there had been religious unrest between the Catholics and the Protestants in Germany.  This unrest was especially prevalent in the middle states of Germany where the population was fairly evenly split between the Catholic and Protestant religions.  The State of Hess was no exception.  However, not only were the protestant families leaving Hess, but so too were the Roman Catholic families.  One notable Catholic example was Adolphus Busch, who left the State of Hess and immigrated to St. Louis, Missouri in 1857.  Adolphus Busch later became one of the founders of the Anheiser-Busch Brewery Company of St. Louis, Missouri.  (Peter Hernon and Terry Ganey, Under the Influence: The Unathorized Story of the Anheuser-Busch Dynasty [Avon Books: New York, 1991] p. 22.)

However, besides religious reasons, there may have been political reasons, which may have caused the Oltrogge and Busch families to leave the State of Hess.  There had long been unrest in the Germany over the very fact that the various German speaking states were divided into so many small political units.  There had been much agitation in favor of a unified German State.  However, there was much disagreement of dispute arose over the form the new unified Germany would take.  In 1848, all across the German speaking lands, uprisings in favor of more democratic freedoms and constitutions had arisen.  These revolts had been bloodily suppressed by the conservative rulers of the various German states.  One such crisis broke out in the State of Hess and threatened in 1850 to become a war involving some of the states neighboring Hessen.  (Marshal Dill Jr., Germany: A Modern History [University of Michigan Press: Ann Arbor, 1970] p. 120.)  Historians used to believe that the suppression of the uprisings of 1848 was a major cause of the German emigration to the United States in the early 1850’s.  They believed that tide of emigration consisted of disappointed liberals and democratic reformists.  Recently, however, theory has been challenged.  Modern historians now hold that the emigrating Germans were “little concerned with politics and with revolution not at all.”  (Marcus Hansen quoted in American Immigration by Maldwyn Allen Jones, cited above, p. 110.)

In actual fact, despite all the trappings, it may well have been plain economic motives that brought the Oltrogge family to Iowa.  For there were economic motives aplenty.  There had been poor harvests in the lands along the Rhine River for a number of years.  (Maldyn Allen Jones at p. 110 and Hernon and Ganey, Under the Influence:The Unauthorized Story of the Anheuser-Busch, p. 22.)  The vast open spaces of land and the virtually unlimited opportunity for land ownership in the upper Midwest of the United States compared quite favorably to the dismal future prospects that appeared to be waiting them in Germany.    (Robert P. Howard, Illinois: A History of the Prairie State [Eerdmans Pub. Co.: Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1972] p. 222.)

Whatever the reason, Frederick and Sophia Oltrogge moved with their family onto a 240-acre piece of land in Section 1 of Jefferson Township in Bremer County Iowa.  The early years of settlement were mostly taken up with building the house and barn and, as noted above, the neighborhood church in adjacent Maxfield Township.  It was hard work, settling in the new land.  However, they were not alone.  The whole neighborhood was involved in the same struggle to tame the land and carve out a niche for themselves on the prairie.

In 1856, Iowa was still a frontier state having entered the union only 1846.  (Leland L. Sage, A History of Iowa [Iowa State University Press: Ames, 1974] p. 91.)  Large portions of the state were still inhabited by bands of Dakota (Sioux) people.  Indeed, one year after the arrival of the Oltrogge family, 1857, saw the uprising of the Wahpeton Sioux against the increasing flood of white settlers that were coming into Iowa.  This uprising has become known as the Massacre of Spirit Lake.  (Ibid., p, 107-108.)  However, the settlers kept coming even after the uprising.  The town of Jefferson City (now called Denver, Iowa) sprang up three miles to the south of Oltrogge farm.  By 1875, the Jefferson township schoolhouse had been built in the center of Section 2 just one mile west of the Oltrogge farm.  Slowly, the community was growing.  The size of the Oltrogge family also grew with the addition of a third daughter Anna Justine Wilhelmine born on April 4, 1858, another daughter Anna born on April 12, 1861 and a son William Frederick born on October 2, 1863.  Named for his father, the younger William Frederick was called William to distinguish him from his father who was called Fred or Frederick.  Like his older sisters, Sofia, Caroline and Anna just two years before, William, too, was confirmed in the St. Johns Maxfield Church in 1877.

The community continued to make progress.  A public road was eventually built directly though the center of Section 1 and 2 of Jefferson County which passed just south of the Oltrogge farmstead.  The 240-acre Oltrogge farm consisted of 160 acres located north of this road and 80 acres located south of the road.  Some time prior to 1875 another house was built on the 80 acres located south of the road.

As William grew up, he developed a real interest in the family farming operation.  The farm contained a dairy operation, with about 30 head of Holstein cattle being milked at any one time.  The family also raised about 200 to 300 pigs and 500 chickens.  Approximately half of their arable land was planted in corn.  Since they did not have a silo on their farm, they built a bunker for storing corn silage.  A portion of their corn was harvested as green corn silage; the remainder of the corn was harvested when ripe.  Much of the ripe corn was stored on the farm and fed to the pigs, chickens and dairy cattle.

On October 12, 1887, just ten (10) days after his 24th birthday, William married Anna Steege, an 18-year old girl from a neighboring farm.  Eventually they had a family that included Louis Wilhelm Johann Heinrich born on June 1, 1890, Amanda born in 1891, John born in 1892, Herman Heinrich Friedrich William born on May 23, 1893 and Hilda born on April 8, 1895.  Gradually, William took over the operations of the family farm from his father.

Under William Oltrogge’s management several improvements were made to the farming operation.  In the summer of 1897, he negotiated with the Borden & Selleck Co. of Chicago, Illinois for the purchase of a Howe Scale Company weighing scale for installation in the granary on the farm.  A letter dated July 30, 1897 from the company headquarters located at 48 and 50 Lake Street in Chicago and signed by H. Borden, president of the company informed William that although building plans for the scale could be forwarded immediately, actual construction of the scales would be delayed until October.  When installed in the covered alleyway of the granary, the 8ft. by 14 ft. platform of the scale had the ability to weigh an entire wagon load of grain or ear corn.

In 1916, a new barn was built specifically to house the teams of horses that the large farming operation required.  This horse barn was built as a separate building rather than being attached to the main cow barn.  Some time during the First World War, William mechanized the milking of the dairy herd.  He built an engine house which was attached to the granary located about fifty (50) feet away from the barn.  In the engine house was a 2 ½ horsepower Fairbanks-Morris stationary engine.  This kerosene-powered “hit and miss” engine was belted to a vacuum pump which, in turn, was connected to an underground pipe that ran to the barn.  The Fairbanks engine was started at the beginning of morning and evening milking and supplied the vacuum necessary to power the Universal-Coop milkers which William now used to milk his herd of cows.

Changes were also happening in the family.  The year 1913 saw the passing of William’s father, Frederick Oltrogge at the age of 83 years.  On March 18, 1914, Louis Oltrogge, William’s oldest son, married Hilda Kohagen from the local community.  Following their marriage they struck out on their own and purchased a 240 acre farm which was adjacent to the original Oltrogge farm on the northwest corner of the home farm.  In the summer of 1915, the Oltrogge family purchased their first automobile—a 1911 Model Kissel.  Besides being a convenience for the family members the car greatly shortened the amount of time that it took to deliver the separated cream to the Co-operative Creamery in Artesian, the little unincorporated settlement located ½ a mile to the east of the home farm.

Additionally, young Herman began to take up the decision-making authority with regard to the farming operation as William now in his 50’s began to think about retiring.  On May 3, 1917 Herman married Millie Kohagen, a sister of Hilda.  To make room for the new family on the main farm, William tore down the old house located south of the road and built a new house on that site.  William, then, moved into this new house and left the main house on the north side of the road for Herman and Millie.

Like his father, Herman was always seeking ways in which to improve the farming operation.  Indeed, Herman was even more inclined toward this idea of modernizing the farm.  In 1920, Herman, remodeled the house on the main farm.  In the early 1920s, the Interstate Power Company stretched an electric power line along the road between Olewyn, Iowa and Waverly, Iowa.  The power line followed the path of the road that would become State Route #3 along the edge of Readlyn, Iowa, and passing the Oltrogge farm.  Interstate offered farm owners along the path of the power line the right to hook up to the power line at an affordable price.  The Oltrogges accepted the offer from Interstate and electrified their farm.  Now with electricity in the barn, the family hooked the vacuum lines which extended to all the stanchions in the barn to an electrically powered vacuum pump located in the barn itself.  No longer was there a need for the vacuum lines extending underground to the barn all the way from the engine house.

However, Herman Oltrogge was aware that the most significant improvement in farming was the farm tractor which could fully mechanize the power on the farm.  Indeed, in the winter of 1917-1918, Herman’s brother, Louis, had purchased a new Model 15-25 Lauson tractor.  Herman had seen, first-hand how the steady power of the Lauson tractor compared favorably to the use of animal power for performing heavy farm work.  Consequently, by the Spring of 1920, Herman had purchased a 1919 Model International Harvester Titan 10-20 Model tractor.  This tractor was one of the post-1919 Titans which had the full length fenders which covered both rear wheels down to the drawbar.  Herman used the Titan and a three-bottom John Deere Model No. 5 plow, to do his spring plowing in 1920.

The Titan was not only intended for all the heavy work around the farm, but was also intended to supply power to the belt.  In 1920, the, Oltrogge’s also purchased a Sprout-Waldron feed grinder/burr mill.  (Keith Oltrogge, William’s great –grandson, is a Certified Public Accountant, practicing in nearby, Denver, Iowa, still owns and lives on the family farm and still has this 1920 Sprout-Waldron burr mill on the farm.)  Herman thought that the burr mill and the belt power provided by the Titan would speed up the processing of the animal feed on the farm.

Although the Titan was Herman’s first tractor, he never talked about it much.  It may well have been that he was dissatisfied with the Titan tractor.  It is not hard to find reasons for dissatisfaction with the Titan.  Regular readers of the Belt Pulley will remember a 1920 Model Titan tractor was purchased in 1927 by Clarence Rodning of St. Peter, Minnesota to mechanize his farming operation.  (See the article “Farming with an International 10-20 Titan” in the May/June 1996 issue of Belt Pulley magazine, p. 16.)  Among the other problems, the Titan was hard to start.  Indeed, Lee Klancher in his short book on International Harvester Farmall devotes five pictures to the Titan and the process involved in starting the Titan.  (Lee Klancher, Farmall Tractors [Motorbooks, Intl. Pub.: Osceola, Wisc., 1995] pp. 17 through 24.)  Additionally, due to the fact that the Titan was a two-cylinder tractor with both cylinders connected in parallel to the crankshaft, the pistons moved forward and back in the sleeves together rather than in an alternating two-cylinder pattern like John Deere tractors.  Thus, even though the pistons were counter-weighted to reduce vibration in the tractor, the Titan had a tendency to “lope” or rock back and forth when powering a belt driven machine.  This loping on the part of the tractor sent waves down through the belt and causing the burr mill to shake in time to the waves on the belt.  Herman discovered this shortcoming of the Titan when he used the tractor on the belt to power the new Sprout-Waldron burr mill he had purchased.  Herman was dissatisfied with the Titan and in 1923, he traded the Titan in to the dealership of Coddington and Laird in Waverly, Iowa, (pop. 600) toward the purchase of new four-cylinder Wallis Model OK tractor.

The Model OK had only been introduced in 1922 by the J.I. Case PlowCompany.  (C.H. Wendel, 150 Years of Case [Crestline Pub.: Osceola, Wisc., 1991] p. 18.)  The J.I. Case Plow Company of Racine Wisconsin should not be confused with the J.I. Case Threshing Machine Company which was also located in Racine, Wisconsin.  The Case Threshing Machine Company was maker of the Case tractor.  Although founded by the same people as the Threshing Company, the J.I. Case Plow Company had always been a separate corporate entity.  In 1919, J.I. Case Plow Company was merged with the Wallis Tractor Company of Cleveland, Ohio and, thus, Henry M. Wallis became the new president of the company which bore the name J.I. Case Plow Company.  Inevitably, once the J.I. Case Plow Company was controlled by persons no longer associated with the Threshing Company, disputes arose over the use of the name “Case” by the Plow Company.  A decision by the Wisconsin Supreme Court allowed both companies to use the name “Case” under limited conditions.  (Ibid., p. 17.)  By the time the that the decision of the Wisconsin Supreme Court was handed down, the Case Plow Company had already been purchased by the Massey-Harris Company of Ontario, Canada.  Immediately, after the Court decision, Case Threshing Company began pursuing a course of negotiations with Massey Harris to purchase the Case Plow Company for itself.

However, Massey Harris had been trying to enter the tractor market without real success, since 1912.  The purchase of the Case Plow Company represented the company’s third attempt to add a tractor to the line of Massey-Harris farm equipment.  (Michael Williams, Massey-Ferguson Tractors [Farming Press: Ipswich, U.K., 1987] pp. 15 through 44.)  Once having obtained ownership rights to the manufacture of the popular Wallis tractor and the large Racine, Wisconsin tractor factory, Massey-Harris was not inclined to sell this valuable property.  What they were willing to sell, and what the Case Threshing Company really wanted, was the limited right to the use of the name “Case” currently held by Massey Harris as the owner of the Case Plow Company.  Thus, shortly after spending $1.3 million in cash and guaranteeing another $1.1 million in bonds in order to purchase the Case Plow Company, Massey Harris was able to recoup a great deal of the purchase price by selling their rights to the limited use of the name “Case” for $700.000.00.

At 4,020 pounds, Herman’s new 1923 Wallis Model OK tractor was much lighter than the 5,708 pound Titan.  (C. H. Wendel, Nebraska Farm Tractor Tests [Crestline Pub.: Osceola, Wisc., 1993] pp. 19 and 42.)  Furthermore, the Wallis Model OK tractor was a four-cylinder tractor delivering smooth power to the belt and to the rear wheels.  Testing of the tractor at the University of Nebraska had shown that the tractor delivered 18.15 hp. to the drawbar and 27.13 hp. to the belt pulley.  (Ibid., p. 42.)  The Wallis tractor introduced many innovations to the tractor industry.

In 1913, the Wallis Tractor Company introduced the revolutionary Wallis Model “Cub” tractor.  Two years later in 1915, the Model J, “Cub Jr.” was designed with a complete enclosure of the entire power drive train including the final drives at the rear wheels.  (C.H. Wendel, Encyclopedia of Farm Tractors [Crestline Pub.: Sarasota, Fla., 1979] pp. 57 and 58.)  Despite claims by Henry Ford that his Fordson tractor, which went into production 1918, was the first unit frame designed tractor, the Wallis tractor was, actually, the first tractor designed with a totally enclosed power train running in oil.  (Ibid.)  Every succeeding model of Wallis tractor was patterned after this design.  Thus, by merely obtaining the production rights to the Wallis tractor in 1928, Massey-Harris was instantly set on a course to become one of the world’s five largest tractor manufacting companies within ten years.  (Michael Williams, Massey-Ferguson Tractors [Farming Press: Ipswich, U.K., 1987] pp. 39 through 41.)

Furthermore, by its acquisition of the J.I. Case Plow Company, the Canada-based Massey-Harris Company instantly obtained a retail tractor sales network throughout the United States.  In northeastern Iowa, this meant that Massey-Harris obtained the excellent services of the Coddington and Laird dealership of Waverly, Iowa, with branch dealerships in Plainfield, Readlyn, Tripoli and Janesville, Iowa.

Founded in Waverly, the Coddington and Laird dealership was the brainchild of Alva Bush Coddington.  Alva (nicknamed Al) Coddington had been born in 1870 in Janesville, Iowa, located in southern Bremer County (pop. 445).  After having attended business school in Burlington, Iowa, Al was employed for a while as a bookkeeper at the firm of J.C. Garner in Waverly, Iowa.  Garner’s was a local business which owned a meat marketing business and farm equipment dealership holding retail sales franchises from many different farm equipment manufacturing companies, including Emerson Manufacturing Co., John Deere and Oliver plows, Ohio Cultivator Company discs and cultivators, Hayes Pump and Planter Company planters, Dain Manufacturing Company hay rakes and hay loaders, Sandwich Manufacturing Company “Clean Sweep” hay loaders, DeLaval cream separatorsand Great Western Company manure spreaders.  Garner’s also had franchises to sell horse-drawn buggies made by the Staver Carriage Company of Chicago, Illinois; the Northwestern Furniture Company of Milwaukee, Wisconsin and the Velie Carriage Company of Moline, Illinois.

Al Coddington was a recognized success at bookkeeping during his employment at Garner’s.  In 1891, he married Olive Wetherell, a girl from his own hometown of Janesville, Iowa.  Their first child, Harry Coddington, was born in 1895, but tragically died in infancy that same year.  However, they eventually had a family that was to include three additional children—Herbert Wetherell Coddington born in 1896, Olive Harriet Coddington born in 1902 and Margaret A. Coddington born in 1908.  After some years at Garner’s Al sought to advance his career by accepting a position in Des Moines, Iowa.  However, when he heard in 1902, that his old employer—the Garner dealership firm—was up for sale, it did not take him long to makeup his mind to move back to Bremer County and to purchase the Garner dealership.  However, Al felt himself unable to make the purchase of all the stock in Garner’s by himself.  So he formed a partnership with Ralph Eldon Laird to make the purchase.  Thus, the October 30, 1902 issue of the Bremer County Independent was able to report to its readers the first news of the consummated sale of Garner’s to the partnership of Al Coddington and Eldon Laird, which would take effect on January 1, 1903.  For a place of business, the new partnership of Coddington and Laird, purchased a local icehouse and the five (5) acre lot on which it sat, located at 20 and 22 West Bremer Street in Waverly from the s of land from the firm of Miller and Babcock.

A combination of good business sense on the part of Al Coddington and his partner and the beginnings of the mass demand for automobiles on the part of the public, made the new partnership a success from the very start.  In 1902, the Northwestern Furniture Company, one of the companies that supplied horse-drawn buggies to Coddington and Laird, began offering a motorized “high wheeler” horseless carriage to the public.  In 1907, the Staver Carriage Company did the same and in 1909, the Velie Company followed suit.  Holding franchises to all three of these companies, Coddington and Laird, was perfectly placed to take full advantage of the coming boom in demand for automobiles.

In the meantime, Coddington and Laird sought to broaden their line of products they could offer to the public.  The partnership purchased a windmill retailer, the John Voorman retail business on February 18, 1904.  At the same time, Coddington and Laird leased the old skating rink from O. Wheeler, that had been used as a place of business by John Voorman.  In this building the partnership established a buggy and farm machinery warehouse.

By March of 1904, Coddington and Laird was doing so well that they established a branch dealership in the small village of Readlyn, Iowa (pop. 468) located 15 miles to the east of Waverly and about six miles east of the Oltrogge farm.  Al Coddington also had the privilege of opening a branch of his expanding business in his own hometown of Janesville, Iowa.  By 1913, he would have additional branches in the Bremer County towns of Plainfield and Tripoli.  In this way, the partnership covered every major sales market in Bremer County.

The partnership attempted to find the enterprises that would best position the partnership for the future.  Accordingly, Coddington and Laird sold off the meat market part of their business on May 14, 1904 to O.O. McCaffree.  In November of 1904, the dealership leased the Smalley Grain Elevator located on the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad (“the Rock Island Line”) tracks which led out of Waverly in a southwesterly direction.

By 1905, Coddington and Laird was already being referred to as Waverly’s “leading farm implement house” (the October 5, 1905 issue of the Waverly Democrat).  Furthermore, the October 5, 1905 issue of the Waverly Democrat, reported that in addition to managing both the implement dealership and the grain elevator, the Coddington and Laird partnership occupied four warehouses with a wide range of goods for sale including lime, coal, ice and farm implements.  In March of 1910, Coddington and Laird took over the building next door to them at 16 and 18 West Bremer Street.  This building was remodeled to function as a garage where the dealership would begin to offer mechanical servicing to the owners of the new automobiles, motorized trucks and farm tractors that were beginning to make there appearance in Bremer County.  Two years later, Coddington and Laird was already looking for new and larger premises for their business.  The May 30 and June 27, 1912 issues of the Bremer County Independent the description of the new building at the corner of West Bremer and 2nd Street North West that the J.M. Miller Construction Company had been contracted to build for the Coddington and Laird dealership.  By October, the building structure was complete up to the second story.  By January of 1913, Coddington and Laird was moving into their new building located two blocks down West Bremer Street from their former location.

The dealership recognized that the trend of the future lie with modern farm equipment.  Accordingly, Coddington and Laird sold off the ice business part of their combined enterprise to C. R. Farnham in November of 1914.  Next spring, in May of 1915, they sold off the grain elevator and the coal business to the Colburn Bros.  Concentrating on their core business as a farm equipment, tractor and automobile dealership, Coddington and Laird had found their niche.

However, within the emerging automobile industry vast changes were afoot.  In 1904, the Northwestern Furniture Company had ceased making automobiles.  (Beverly Rae Kimes, Standard Catalogue of American Cars 1805-1942 [Krause Pub.: Iola, Wisc., 1996] pp. 666 and 1047.)  To replace this franchise, Coddington and Laird signed a contract with the Clark Motor Company of Shelbyville, Indiana, to sell Clark automobiles.  However, the Clark Co. had only a short life-span from 1910 until 1912.  (Ibid. p. 337.)  In 1914, the Staver Motor Company found itself unable to keep up with the competition and went out of business.  (Ibid. p. 1386.)  Even the Velie Company began a decline that would eventually end in the total demise of the company in 1928.  (Ibid. p. 1495.)  Luckily, the dealership signed a franchise contract with a the REO Motor Car Company of Lansing, Michigan, the nation’s twenty-second largest automobile maker.  (James H. Moloney, Encyclopedia of American Cars1930-1942 [Crestline Pub.: Sarasota, Fla., 1977] p. 319.)  REO had the large scale capacity necessary to produce their cars in sufficient numbers to meet the increasing demands of the public.  Furthermore, in 1909, the REO Company began the line trucks for which they would become renowned.  (Albert Mroz, Illustrated Encyclopedia of American Trucks and Commercial Vehicles [Krause Pub.: Iola, Wisc., 1996] p 327.)

However, the most important franchise that Coddington and Laird obtained was the franchise to sell Chevrolet cars.  In the period just after the First World War, Chevrolet was on its way toward overtaking Ford Motor Company in production and sale of automobiles—an event which would occur in 1927.  (Robert Lacy, Ford: The Men and the Machine [Little Brown &Co. Pub.: Boston, 1986] p. 298.)  Coddington and Laird were doing their part to help Chevrolet in this endeavor.  Sales of Chevrolet cars in the twelve-month fiscal year from 1923-1924 resulted in Coddington and Laird becoming a member of the Chevrolet Division’s “Winners Class” of dealers for the year 1924.

            Coddington and Laird served as the local retail sales agent for many different farm equipment manufacturers.  Generally, these manufacturers did not have tractors in the line of farm equipment and they often specialized in the farm machinery they did manufacture rather than offering an entire line of farm implements.  Thus, these manufacturers were called “short line” companies.  Only by obtaining multiple franchises from many specialized short line manufactures, could Coddington and Laird offer to the public a “complete” line of farm equipment.  The Wallis tractor formed the capstone of that complete line of farm equipment offered by Coddington and Laird.  In June of 1926, the dealership partitioned off the front part of their new building to form a showroom which allowed the Coddington and Laird dealership to exhibit the Wallis tractor and other farm implements, inside, out of the weather and elements, even during the coldest of Iowa winters.  Although somewhat more expensive than other tractors which were on the market in the post World War I period, the Wallis tractor nonetheless, proved to be a popular sales item in Bremer County.  Thus, when Massey-Harris purchased the exclusive rights to build Wallis tractors, it only made common business sense for Coddington and Laird to become a Massey-Harris franchisee, which they did in 1928.

Herman Oltrogge was well satisfied with the Wallis tractor.  Not only did he use the Wallis Model OK on all the heavy duty field work, but he also immediately started using the tractor on all sorts of lighter duty work around the farm.  For example, he shortened the hitch on his John Deere grain binder and fixed the tractor with a long steering wheel extension that allowed him to steer the Wallis from the seat of the binder.  This allowed the grain binding operations on the farm to remain a “one-man” operation just as it had been with the horses.

The Wallis four-cylinder valve-in-head engine provided smooth power to the belt when Herman belted the Wallis to the Sprout Waldron burr mill.  Only one problem arose on the farm because of the new tractor.  The new Wallis Model OK tractor had a rated engine speed of 1000 rpm.  (C.H. Wendel, Nebraska Tractor Tests [Motorbooks Intl. Pub., 1993] p. 42.)  This speed compared with an engine speed of 575 rpm. for the Titan.  (Ibid. p. 19.)  As noted above, when he purchased the burr mill, Herman had, of course, intended to use the Titan tractor to power the burr mill.  Thus, the burr mill was fitted with a 6” belt pulley with a 6” face.  This small pulley had the effect of speeding up the implement.  Thus, the burr mill had been customized to the slower belt speed of the Titan tractor.  Herman found that the Wallis tractor powered the burr mill at too fast a rate for efficient operation.  Thus, it is not surprising that on February 5, 1923, Herman wrote to the Sprout Waldron Company in Muncy, Pennsylvania to determine how to adjust his burr mill to fit the new higher speed Wallis tractor.  Charles Waldron, Vice president of the company responded three days later with a suggestion that the burr mill should be fitted with a larger 8” pulley.  Sprout and Waldron had an 8” pulley with a 6” leather face available for sale at a price of $5.25.  Acquisition of this new pulley allowed the Wallis Model OK tractor to efficiently power the burr mill and the smooth four cylinder engine did not cause the tractor to lope and send waves down the belt.

Massey-Harris continued manufacturing the Wallis Model OK tractor for about three years following the purchase of the J .I. Case Plow Company.  Indeed in 1929, Massey-Harris introduced a newer smaller version of the Model OK.  This was the Wallis Model 12-20.  (C. H. Wendel, Encyclopedia of American Farm Tractors, p. 185.)  In 1931, the Massey Harris Model 25 was introduced as a replacement for the Wallis Model OK tractor.  (Michael Williams, Massey-Ferguson Tractors [Blandford Press: London, 1987] p. 32.)  Still, the Massey Harris 25 tractor bore many of the identical design features of the Wallis tractor.  The Massey-Harris Model 25 was offered to the public for the retail price of $1,275.00.  (C.H. Wendel, Massey Tractors [Motorbooks Intl. Pub.: Osceola, Wisc., 1992] p. 39.)

As was noted in an earlier article, during the years 1931 through 1933, the Oltrogge farm served as the test ground for the prototype of the Rosenthal corn picker.  (See the article “The Rosenthal Corn Husker Company of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Part V” contained in January/February 2002 issue of Belt Pulley magazine p. 12.)  Also as related in that article, Herman traded the Wallis Model OK tractor to the Coddington and Laird dealership in 1932 on the purchase of a new Massey-Harris Model 25.  Herman Oltrogge surely did not realize that his purchase of this tractor was to start a connection between the Oltrogge family and Massey-Harris tractors which extends down to the present day.  The Massey Harris 25 continued to serve on the Oltrogge farm until after the Second World War.

The purchase of the Massey Harris Model 25 tractor did not, however, provide the family with a tractor that would perform all farm operations.  The Massey-Harris was not a “row crop” tractor that would allow for the mechanical cultivation of corn and other row crops.  The Oltrogge family raised a lot of corn but even after the purchase of the Massey-Harris Model 25, they still used horses for the cultivation of row crops—one row at a time.  Not until early 1942, when they purchased one of the first Case Model VAC that came out in production, did they have a row-crop tractor which would allow for the mechanical cultivation of corn and other rows crops—two rows at a time.  However, after only one year with the VAC, the Oltrogges traded the little Case in on the purchase of another row crop tractor.  Once again they chose a Massey-Harris tractor.  They purchased a Model 101 Super from their local dealership—Coddington and Laird.  The 101 Super was an important part of the Massey-Harris Company’s attempt to develop a row crop tractor.  However, development of Massey-Harris row-crop tractors would come to full fruition only in the post-World War II sales boom.  This story remains as a subject for the next installment on Massey-Harris farming.

The connection between the Oltrogge family and Massey-Harris tractors continued.  Herman’s son, Orville Oltrogge took over the farming operations from his father in the late 1940’s.  The family farmed with a Model 44, a Model    and a Model Massey-Harris tractors.  Currently, Orville’s son, Keith Oltrogge, lives in the same house and on the same farm that was occupied by four prior generations of Oltrogges.  Although, Keith works in nearby Denver, Iowa, as a Tax consultant and accountant, Keith is known to Massey-Harris collectors and restorers, nationwide, as the editor of Wild Harvest, the official newsletter for Massey-Harris collectors.  In this way, Keith continues his family’s connection with Massey-Harris and actually makes the Oltrogge name as household term among Massey-Harris collectors.  Massey-Harris farming will be celebrated at the 2004 LeSueur Pioneer Power Show held on August 27, 28 and 29, 2004 as the national Massey Harris collectors “Wild Harvest” summer convention will be hosted at the Show.  Show attendees can be certain that Keith Oltrogge will be there to maintain his family’s continuing connection with the Massey-Harris name.

Dairy Farming in Eastern Massachusetts (Part II)

                      Dairying in Eastern Massachusetts (Part II) 


Brian Wayne Wells

 As published in the January/February 2004 issue of

Belt Pulley Magazine


Dairy farming in Massachusetts and indeed dairying in much of New England involved not only the milking of the cows, but the pasteurization, bottling and the delivery of the milk to the customers by the dairy farmer himself (see the previous article in this series which was published in the November/December 2003 issue of Belt Pulley).  One particular dairy farm located in Concord Town, Massachusetts, (1930 pop. 7,477), was being operated by our Concord Town farmer (as noted in the earlier article,in Massachusetts, the designation “Town” has the same connotation as “Township” in other states.  Our Concord Town farmer lived on this farm with his wife and four children.  By the summer of 1938 his eldest son, who had taken a strong interest in the 80-acre operation, was becoming a real partner in the farming operation.

Since the early l930s, our Concord Town farmer had been delivering milk to his customers along his route, which extended over the line from Concord Town into the suburban town of Lexington, Massachusetts (1930 pop. 9,467), just west of Boston.  Like all farmers our concord Town farmer was interested in anything that would save him time in his farming operation.  He had been pleasantly surprised at how his purchase of a new Divco Model S delivery truck in 1936 had saved him time and money on the delivery route in the morning as opposed to delivering the milk with horses.  Now he turned his attention to the small period of time each day between noon-time dinner and the late afternoon when he began the evening milking chores.  It was during this short period of time each day that he was requirede to complete all his field work.  If some economical way could could be found to mechanize this portion of his work then he rally felt that he would be able to put his farming operation on a better financial basis.  He had been considering the purchase of a farm tractor for some time.  Over the last year he had been leaning toward the purchase of a Farmall F-12 tractor, from the Frank Goddard hardware store in Lowell, Massachusetts.  The Frank Goddard Hardware was the local International Harvester Company franchise holder for this area of Massachusetts.

With the growing season already well on the way in the summer of 1938, our concord Town farmer finally found a little time to drive over to Lowell to talk with Frank.  In order for the tractor to pay for itself, our Concord town farmer intended to use the tractor for nearly all his fieldwork.  Thus the tractor wpould require easy access to all areas of the farm.  This would include the field across the road from the homestead and other parcesl of land that were accessed by driving down the roads of his neighborhood.

The steady progress of paving the roads in the communities west of Boston would eventually result in the road past his farm being paved.  As convenient as a paved road would be, it would also mean that the road would be closed to tractors with steel lugs on the rear.  Local government were passing laws and ordinances to protect the the surface of asphault or cement highwaysfrom being torn up and ruined by tractors with steel wheels.  Thus the fields across the road or down the road from our Concord Town farmer’s house could become inaccessible with a steel wheeled tractor.  Accordingly, he concluded that any tractor that he purchased would have to have rubber tire on the front and rear from the start.  Rubber tires would increase the initial cost of any new farm tractor.  Our Concord Town farmer knew that the base price of a new Farmall  F-12 tractor would increase from $655 to $800 merely because of the addition of rubber tires to the front and rear of the tractor.  Nonetheless, he felt that the ability to easily access the fields down the road without trouble would pay off.

After talking with our Concord Town farmer for a short while, Frank Goddard called the International Harverster branch house, located at 61 North Beacon Street in the Alston area of Boston.  Because of its location in Boston, the transport hub for much of New England, the branch house at No. Beacon Street dealt predominately with International trucks.  Only secondarily did the branch house deal with farm equipment and tractors.  Luke E. W. Johnson served as the general manager of both trucks and machines at the branch house.  Johnson informed Frank Goddard that the branch house did indeed have a limited number of F-12 tractors.  However, none of them were fitted with a full set of rubber tires—front and rear.  Additionally, the branch house did not have extra tire rims for the rear of the F-12 tractor to swap out some rubber tires on the rea of one of the F-12s that they had in their inventory.  However, Luke Johnson did note that he had a new F-14 in his inventory which was already fitted with rubber tires in the front as well as the rear.  The rear tires on this tractor were mounted on International Harvester’s own 40-inch demountable rims.  This was an F-14 bearing the serial No. 132603.

Dairy Farming in Massachusetts (Part I)

                               Dairying in Eastern Massachusetts (Part 1)


Brian Wayne Wells

As published in the November/December 2003 issue of

Belt Pulley Magazine

The small hamlet of Concord, Massachusetts is famous in American history.  In 1775, a British arsenal was located there.  On April 19 of that year, British troops seeking to secure the arsenal from the increasingly rebellious Massachusetts colony, were marching from Boston harbor toward Concord, when they were met in Lexington, Massachusetts by a collection of militia, called Minutemen.  The Minutemen had been roused from their beds early in the morning of April 19 by Paul Revere.  At Lexington, on the road to Concord, a shot rang out which became known as the “shot heard around the world.”  The battle that ensued at Lexington was the start of the American Revolutionary War.

In 1775, Concord was one of many small communities that dotted the Massachusetts colony.  Farm families, living in or around the settlement of Concord and the other small villages of this part of Massachusetts raised food and products largely for their own use only—subsistence farming.  Boston had little economic connection with Concord or any of the other villages of the area except in its role as a sea port.  However, as time passed, Boston became more urban and was unable to produce the food required for its citizens.  Thus, the farms of the Concord moved into the “market economy” and began producing goods for sale in Boston.

In its role as one of the major international ports of the United States, Boston grew rapidly into a major metropolitan area.  One of the major food stuffs required by Boston was fresh milk—a great deal of fresh milk.  Because of this demand for milk and because of the rocky and hilly, timbered lands of eastern Massachusetts, it was natural that farmers there specialized in dairying.

Although there was a settlement which was referred to as the village of Concord, the term “Concord Town” referred to the geographical unit, which included the rural area around the village of Concord.  By 1938, Concord (1930 pop. 7,477) was beginning to lose its rural feel and was becoming a suburb of Boston.

One of the dairy farms that still operated in Concord Town in 1938 was operated by a particular farmer.  He lived on the 80-acre farm that had been in his father’s family dating back to the early 1800s.  He was married with four children.  Dairying had been a major part of his family farming operation since the beginning.  This job meant not only milking his herd of Guernsey cattle twice a day, but it also meant pasteurizing the milk in a large vat and then bottling the milk and delivering to the door of their customers along the milk route which was largely contained in the village of Lexington.

Chores began at 5 a.m. when our Concord Town farmer would leave the house to check on the fire in the boiler in the milk house prior to heading for the barn.  As he walked to the milk house one January morning in 1938, he noted that this January was having its share of unusually cold mornings.  Arriving at the milk house, he could hardly wait to get inside and close the door behind him.  Once inside, he found that there continued to be some warmth still emanating from the firebox of the boiler.  Good!  The fire wasn’t entirely out.  He carefully removed the ash from the stove, revealing the red embers from yesterday’s fire.  After adding a handful of cedar single kindling and loading up the firebox with an arm load of wood, our Concord Town farmer, adjusted the air vents on the door of the ash compartment.  Both vents controlled the size of the fire in the firebox and, thus, controlled the heat in the boiler.  Early in the morning on a cold winter’s day like this our Concord Town Farmer would open the air vents slightly more than usual to bring the fire quickly up to normal heat.

The firebox heated the boiler reservoir water tank located directly above the firebox.  Pipes leading from the reservoir water tank, wrapped themselves around a stainless steel tank in the milk house.  This tank contained the fresh milk from the previous evening’s milking.  Our Concord Town farmer now opened the valve on the water pipe to allow the water to start flowing through the pipes again.  The water from the boiler would flow through the pipes wrapped around the stainless steel tank would slowly begin to raise the temperature of the milk.  Raising the temperature of the milk to 72ºF would “pasteurize” the milk.  Pasteurizing the milk greatly reduces the microbial growth within the milk and prevents diseases that might be caused by drinking “raw” (unpasteurized) milk.  The temperature of the milk must be maintained at 72ºF for 12-15 seconds to be effective.   However, the temperature must not get above 72ºF, or the milk would “cook.”  Ever mindful that he did not want the temperature of the milk in the stainless steel tank to rise above 72º F, our Concord Town farmer positioned the air vents on the boiler to allow for a carefully controlled fire.  Checking the temperature of the milk in the stainless steel tank, he found that it was below 40º F.  On a morning like this there was no trouble keeping the milk cold enough.

Then he was off to the barn where his son had already begun feeding the cows silage and their ration of feed grain in the bunks in front of their stanchions.  Our Concord Town farmer took the mechanical milkers from their drying racks, where they had been placed after dismantling and washing following the previous evening’s milking chores.  The mechanical milkers were now re-assembled by placing the rubber inserts into each of the teat cups on the mechanical milker.  Then he started the little “hit and miss” engine that ran the vacuum pump.  The vacuum pump was connected to a pipeline that ran down each row of stanchions on either side of the alleyway in the barn.  These pipelines contained valves and nozzles located at each stanchion.  With a hose connected to the nozzle, the mechanical milker was placed on the first cow to be milked.  Vacuum held the mechanical milker on the teats of the cow being milked.  A “pulsator” converted the vacuum into an action of vacuum and release.  This pulsator action when applied to the rubber inserts inside the four teat holders, milked the cow better than if the cow had been milked by hand.  It took only a couple of minutes for the mechanical milker to empty all four “quarters” of the udder on the first cow.  Our Concord Town farmer then turned off the vacuum valve near the nozzle of the vacuum line and then removed the milker from the cow.  He then opened the lid of the milker and dumped the milk into a pail setting in the center of the alleyway of the barn.  Then, he attached the milker to the next cow to be milked.  While the milker was milking the next cow, our Concord Town Farmer took the pail out to the milk room in the barn and dumped the contents of the pail into the milk strainer which sat on top of a 10-gallon milk can.  The strainer would remove any large impurities, like a stems of straw, that may have made its way into the milk during the milking process.

Following the milking of the entire Guernsey herd, our Concord Town farmer would take the mechanical milkers up to the milk house.  There he would bleed off some of the hot water in the boiler reservoir tank and begin the process of disassembling, washing and disinfecting the various parts of the milkers.  The milking machines would then be hung up on the racks to allow the water to drain off and completely dry all parts of the mechanical milkers.

Meanwhile, his son harnessed up the horses and brought them around to the front of the barn and hitched them to the sled that contained all the milk cans that had been filled during the morning milking.  The sled would then be driven up to the milk house where the contents of each milk can would be dumped into the stainless steel tank with the milk from the previous evenings milking.

Our Concord Town farmer’s son would open the vents on the firebox of the boiler a little more to increase the heat of the fire.  He then added some more wood to the fire and then checked the thermometer in the stainless steel tank.  The temperature of the milk in the stainless steel tank must reach 72º F, but must not rise any higher.  The hot water circulating in the pipes leading from the boiler to the stainless steel tank and returning to the boiler, would gradually raise the temperature of the milk to 72º F.  It would take about three hours.  Time enough for the empty milk cans to be thoroughly, washed, disinfected and placed in a rack upside down to completely dry.

While he washed the milk cans, his son unhitched the sled and took the horses down to the barn, hitch up the Case No. 3 manure spreader, he then let all the cows out of their stanchions and allowed them to walk out of the barn to stretch the legs and to get a drink of water at the stock tank outside the barn.  Then he pulled the manure spreader into alley way of the barn.

On such a cold morning, his first task after crawling down from the manure spreader was to immediately close the barn doors behind the manure spreader in order to keep the warmth of the barn inside.  While the horses waited patiently harnessed to the front end of the manure spreader, he would clean out the gutters on either side of the alleyway.  Before loading the manure from the gutters into the manure spreader, our Concord Town farmer’s son slid his fork under each of the steel slats of the apron on the floor of the manure spreader.  He needed to make sure that none of the steel slats was still frozen to the wooden floor of the manure spreader.  He knew from experience that a broken apron chain would mean that the manure would have to be unloaded by hand, and that was something that he did not want to experience again.

After the gutters had been cleaned, he untied the reins of the harness from the left side of the manure spreader and drove the horses and the manure spreader out the doors at the opposite end of the barn into the cow yard.  Then, he returned to barn and put out fresh hay for the cows.  Meanwhile the lactating cows were starting to make their way back into the barn.  They moved by habit to their appropriate stanchion in the barn and began to eat the fresh hay that was being laid out for them.  On a usual morning, the lactating cows would have been in no hurry to get back into the barn.  And he might have to allow them to be outside for a while longer.  However, on this cold morning, the cows were gathered around the barn yard door, anxious to return to the warmth inside the barn.  Their coat of hair was rather thin and compared with the non-lactating cows and the yearlings who were used to the weather outside the barn.   After all the cows were back inside and fastened in their stanchions again, he would head to the fields with the load of manure.

He remembered to swing by the milk house on his way to the fields, just to pick up the pan of wood ashes from the boiler, which his father had places outside the milk house earlier in the morning.  The breath of the horses created visible steam as the horses walked out to the fields.  It was a cold morning, however, the sun was finally beginning to rise in the east.  He looked at the neighbors house on the next farm and saw that the smoke from the chimney was rising up into the clear sky in a tall straight ribbon.

While, our Concord Town farmer’s son was taking the manure to the field, his father was cleaning up around the milk house and kept watching the temperature of the milk in the stainless steel tank.  After about three hours, with the temperature at 72º F, the heating of the milk was stopped and then he began the bottling process.  Now, the newly pasteurized milk was bottled in one-quart bottles.  Our Concord Town farmer had ordered his bottles from the Warren Glasswork Company in New York City.  These glass bottles had been made with our Concord Township farmer’s name embossed on the side of the bottle.

As the individual bottles were filled with milk and capped, they were each placed in a bottle crate.  In summer these crates full of warm milk would have been moved immediately to the ice house on the farm to cool.  The “ice house” on the farm of our Concord Town farmer’s farm was really a cavern excavated out of a nearby hill.  On a winter’s day like this one, however, the bottled milk could merely be placed outside the milk house to be chilled.  On cold mornings like this one, the problem was to avoid having the bottled milk get too cold and to freeze inside the bottle.  Following the bottling process our Concord Town farmer went into the family’s house to get cleaned up and to change clothes.

After changing clothes, he went out to the shed and slid into the seat of his Divco Model S3 delivery truck.  The cream colored truck had his name emblazoned on both sides in bright red letters.

Divco had been designing motorized delivery vehicles since 1926.  The company had improved its basic truck model on many occasions in the intervening years.  In early 1931, the company ceased production of its Model G delivery truck and had introduced the Model H truck.  The Model H was a revolutionary new delivery truck.  It was the first truck with Divco’s patented “drop frame” design that allowed the operator to drive the little delivery truck from either a standing or seated position.  The dropped frame design allowed for the door of the delivery truck to be low to the ground that the floor of the cab was almost level to the average street curb.  This made for easy entry and exiting from the truck.  The Divco Model H was an ideal delivery vehicle.

However, only 702 Model H trucks had been manufactured by Divco.  Milk dealers still preferred the traditional horse and milk wagon to deliver their bottled milk.  It was the initial price of a truck that deterred our Concord Town farmer from mechanizing the delivery of milk by the purchase of a delivery truck.  The recent economic depression had made the purchase of a new truck even more unsupportable.  A Divco Model H truck cost $1,525.  As the economic depression stretched on over the following months, Divco reduced the price of its Model H truck to $1,295 in an attempt to become more competitive.  However, our Concord Town farmer continued to defer decision on buying a delivery truck.  He continued to use Mable, his old brown mare, to pull his DeKalb Company milk delivery wagon.

However, in 1935, the new Divco Model S truck was introduced.  The Model S was manufactured in two versions.  The larger heavier Model S4 truck was made to haul 47 cases of milk bottles.  The smaller Model S3 delivery truck could haul 39 cases of milk bottles.  The Model S3 Divco delivery truck weighed 500 pounds less than any previous delivery truck made by Divco.  The suggested retail price of the Model S3 truck was $1,140.

Considering the recovering economy and this new low price, our Concord Town farmer began to seriously consider how the purchase of a delivery truck, might greatly reduce the amount of time spent on the delivery route every morning and make his farming operation more profitable. So, just a few weeks ago, he purchased a 1936 Model S3 Divco delivery truck.  The old horse-drawn milk wagon was retired to the grove of trees on the farm.

The little Divco certainly paid for itself on cold mornings like this.  From the operator’s seat of the little delivery truck, our Concord Town farmer reached down with his left hand, through the spokes of the steering wheel and pulled the choke.  With his right hand, he pulled the starter switch to the “on” position.  A further pull on the ignition switch engaged the electric starter motor.  On this cold morning, the four cylinder 143 c. i. (cubic inch) engine turned over rather slowly.  He held the choke in the full choke position until the engine fired.  As soon as the 18 hp. (horsepower) engine sputtered and started to come to life, he adjusted the choke control to the “halfway” position.  He left his hand on the choke control and listened carefully to the engine for any sign that it may cease running.  He made sure that the transmission was in neutral and then slowly released the clutch/brake pedal.  There was a slight decrease in the speed of the engine as the main shaft of the transmission began to turn in the cold thick oil of the transmission.  On such a cold morning even the oil in the four speed transmission needed to be warmed up.  After a bit, he drove the truck out of the shed and down to the milk house.  There he loaded all the crates containing the bottled milk into the racks in the little Divco truck and secured them in place.  Then he drove the little delivery truck out of the yard and down the road in the direction of Lexington to start his delivery route.

Once he was headed down the road, he reached down and pushed the choke all the way in to the “off.” Position.  The truck was running fine now.  With its little engine humming along, the truck was reaching 25mph. (miles per hour).  Riding inside the Divco with the doors closed, the air inside the truck become warmer from the running engine, our Concord Town farmer reflected about how much faster and more convenient  the truck was for making deliveries than was his old horse-drawn milk wagon.

He could now cover the distance to Lexington in a fraction of the time that it would have taken with a horse and wagon.  The motor truck gave our farmer the edge over some other dairy farms in the competition for milk customers.  Most other dairy farms were still using horses for the delivery of milk.  Indeed, across the nation, the horse was still dominant in the door-to-door delivery business.  Use of a truck for deliveries gave our Concord Town farmer an important edge over even those dairy operations that may be located closer in proximity to the customers in Lexington.  The truck allowed him to come from a further distance and still have the milk on the door step of his customers in time for a late breakfast.  Yes, the Divco had made his dairy operation much more efficient.

He had inherited the milk route from his father, who had operated the dairy farm before him.  Over the years, his father and he had learned that the most successful advertising method was “word of mouth” between his customers and their neighbors.  In the winter of 1937-1938, a good four years after the worst portion of the Depression, he saw that his customer base starting to increase.  Indeed, in the nearly two years of his use of the Divco delivery truck on the milk route, our Concord Township farmer had been required to hold back some yearling heifers rather than sell them.  These heifers were needed to expand his milking herd to accommodate the new customers.

Turning down the street into one Lexington neighborhood, he depressed the single pedal on the floor of the truck.  Pushing the pedal part way down disengaged the clutch.  Pushing it down more applied the brakes of the vehicle.  He really couldn’t stand the idea of wasting gasoline, by leaving the truck running as he left the truck during the frequent stops along the route.  Accordingly, he turned the engine off while making each delivery.  Now that the engine was thoroughly warm he need not worry about re-starting the engine after the short stop.

With the pedal depressed in as far as possible, he slid the gear shift lever into the neutral position.  This procedure locked the brake petal in position to hold the brakes on while he left the truck to make the delivery.  In this way the emergency hand parking brake did not need to be applied during the frequent stops along his milk route.  This procedure speeded up the delivery process along the route.  He, then, picked up a wire basket and loaded it with three full bottles of milk and departed the truck.  He walked up the sidewalk leading to the front door of the house, but then detoured off onto the sidewalk, which lead around the large two story house to the back door, near the kitchen.  On the step of the back door, our Concord Town farmer found two of his empty bottles, which he picked up and placed in the wire basket he was carrying.  In their place he left two full bottles of milk.  Then he returned to the truck.

Once in the truck, he quickly closed the folding door and placed the empty bottles in the crate for empties and then put some more full bottles in the wire basket and then placed the wire basket back in its frame mounted on the floor of the truck.  Thus, the wire basket was held secure while he drove the truck to the next stop on his route.

Warm from the drive to Lexington, from the farm, the Continental engine in the little truck started almost immediately.  On the route, our Concord Town farmer preferred to drive the truck from the standing position as he drove from house to house.  Thus, he folded the collapsible driver’s seat up out of the way.  Divco trucks were famous for two sets of controls which allowed the driver to operate the vehicle from either the standing or seated position.  Thus, he slid the gear shift lever into first gear and touched the clutch/brake pedal with his foot.  This released the brake and gradually engaged the clutch all in one motion and the truck started moving off to the next stop on the route.  This next stop was his favorite stop on the route.  The woman that lived at this house had done a good job of advertising among her neighbors.  Accordingly, there were a number of customers’ houses at this single stop and he could make a number of deliveries without moving his truck.

He knew, by heart, how many bottles of milk to leave at every stop.  This usually resulted in leaving exactly the same number of full bottles for the number of empties that he found on the door step of each house.

However, if there were any special requests for more or less bottles of milk from any of his customers, there would usually be a note stuck into the opening of one of the empty bottles, advising him of such requests.  After about two hours of making deliveries he would reach the end of his route.  He then unfolded the operator’s seat and locked it into position.

He would sit down as he drove the little truck back to the farm.  He hunched forward, grabbed the top of the steering wheel with his hands, with his arms crossed at the wrists.  He leaned thoughtfully forward resting his forearms on the steering wheel as he drove back to the farm.

As he drove along his thoughts turned to the tasks that lay ahead on this day.  Following the morning chores and the delivery of the bottled milk to the customers, there was left only the early afternoon to complete any work on the farm.  In the early evening he would have to start the evening milking chores again.  This early afternoon period of time was the only time he had to accomplish anything not directly related to milking.  During the summer, all field work, all putting up hay in the barn and silo filling would have to be done only during the small amount of time available to him in the early afternoon.  He knew that he needed to make this short period of time in the afternoon as productive as possible.  He was aware, from the experience of some of his neighbors, that owning a farm tractor was one way in which his time in the field could be used more productively.  He speculated that the purchase of a farm tractor might prove to as productive as had the purchase of the Divco truck had already proved.  Arriving on his farm and after removing the crates of empty bottles into the milk house, he put the truck back in its own garage and went into the house for dinner.

In the same year, 1937, on a farm further west in Massachusetts, near the village of Winchendon. The Earl and Clara (Wright) Whitaker family were sharing most of the same experiences as our Concord Town farmer.  Prior to 1937, they had lived on a farm near Prescott, Massachusetts, where Earl served as the local postmaster while dairy farming on the side.  He used a horse and buggy to deliver his milk around the community of Prescott.

Later Earl and Clara would have a family that would consist of two sons, Raymond and Newell Vaughn Whitaker.  Raymond, the oldest son, would follow in his father’s footsteps.  As he grew up Raymond became more and more involved in the farming operation.  Eventually, he would take over the farming operation from his parents.  First, however, there would be many changes.

The whole community of Prescott had to face a challenge not familiar to farmers in most other parts of the nation.  In 1926, for the fourth time in its recent history, the metropolis of Boston was extending westward in Massachusetts to seek a source of fresh water.  Planning for a massive dam and a 412 billion gallon reservoir called the Quabbin Reservoir began in 1926.  Ten years later, in 1936, the Massachusetts legislature voted to start construction of the dam which would flood the entire Swift River Valley and obliterate the four towns of Dana, Enfield, Greenwich and Prescott.

Earl and Clara and their family were forced to move from their farm in 1937.  They moved north to the town of Winchendon, near the border with New Hampshire.  On a 300-acre farm they established their farming operation called the “Winchendon Dairy.”  Although the farm comprised of a total of 300 acres, only about 80 acres were arable.  The rest of the land was hilly and became permanent pasture and about 50 to 60 acres of the farm was a permanent wood lot.  The only alternative available to the Whitakers, other than retailing milk to local customers in nearby towns, was to sell the milk to large wholesalers who would pick up the milk in cans and ship the milk to Boston.

If sold to wholesalers, the milk would ride to Boston aboard “milk trains” that passed through mid-Massachusetts on railroad lines that connected Vermont with Boston.  Under the management of Earl, and later, Raymond, the Winchendon Dairy grew.  Their Holstein dairy herd grew to about 65 head of cattle.  Indeed, the dairy herd outgrew the ability of the farm to produce all the feed needed for the dairy cattle.  Thus, supplemental feed was purchased, from the citrus-growing area of Florida.  The feed was largely composed of orange peels and other citrus “waste” or by-product of the citrus production process.  However, the feed was proved to be quite palatable to the cows and actually smelled like raisins.  The feed arrived in bulk on board a train from Florida.

During each milking session—morning or evening—the Whitaker farm employed four of five milking machines to milk the entire herd of lactating cows.  Approximately 50 to 55 gallons were gathered from the Holstein herd at each milking session.  Even though all members of the family were involved in helping out with the farming operation on the Whitaker farm, it was still necessary to employ a hired hand to get all the work done.  In the post-World War II period, the Whitaker farm was sending two dark green International Model K-1 panel trucks out on local routes to deliver milk to customers.  The Winchendon Dairy slogan, “From Moo to You in an Hour or Two” was emblazoned on the sides of both panel trucks.  Later these trucks would be replaced with newer International Model R-1 panel trucks.

Raymond came of age on the Winchendon farm and married Phyllis Hall.  In the following years their family grew to include eight children.  In about 1948, Raymond took over operation of the farm himself.

Besides offering milk to their customers at the doorstep, the Winchendon Dairy farm offered their customers other food products such as eggs, chickens and vegetables all raised on the farm.  Every year about three acres of the farm was devoted to raising potatoes.  The potatoes, too, would for sold to their milk customers and to the public at large.  In the early spring, when temperatures began to fluctuate between 32ºF at night and 50ºF during the day, the Whitaker family knew that the sap in the maple trees would be starting to rise.  Each spring with the snow still lingering on the ground, the whole family, including the family dog—Cindy and later Blackie—would head for the wood lot.  There they would tap all the maple trees and then return each day, after tapping, top collect the accumulated sap.  From this sap, maple syrup would be made.  The syrup would, also, be offered for sale to the public.  Furthermore, the wood lot could be used to collect wire wood.  Of course, the family used some firewood themselves, but the surplus would also be sold to the public.

Both the Whitaker and the family of our Concord Town farmer found that the milking of their lactating cows, the processing of the milk and the delivery of the milk to customers occupied most of their day.  Our Concord Town farmer had always said that dairy farming was not as much a job as it was a “marriage.”  Dairying enveloped the whole life of the farmer.

Clearly, our Concord Town farmer’s day was crowded with work.  Thus, he was forced to means by which he could accomplish his farm work more efficiently.  Use of a farm tractor, as a source of power on his farm, offered the promise of making his work on the farm much more efficient.  Consequently, our Concord Town farmer began to seriously consider the possibility of purchasing a farm tractor.

He knew that some years earlier, the International Harvester Company had begun manufacturing a new little Farmall tractor—the Model F-12.  This tractor was appealing to him because of the mounted two-row cultivator that would accompany this tractor.  Cultivation of corn occupied a great deal of his summer each year.  With horses he cultivated one-row at a time.  It was his hope to get over his corn tree times before late-July.  By mid-July the corn was too tall to cultivate.  Cultivation at that stage tended to do more harm than good to the corn.  In reality, it was unusual that he ever completed three full cultivations of his corn field.  There just was not enough time.  The promise of cultivating two-rows at a time with a tractor meant that our Concord Town farmer would be able to cut the cultivation time in half.  His plan to purchase a farm tractor was much on his mind during that January of 1938.  Over the last year or so, he had also been attracted by the cheap price of the Farmall F-12.  For a small farm like his, our Concord Town farmer knew that the Farmall F-12 was the right size.  If he were to make the investment in a farm tractor, it would appear that the tractor would have to be an F-12.

The 1938 Rasmus Thronson Farmall F-12 Tractor

The Farmall F-12 (Part III):

The 1938 Rasmus Thronson Farmall F-12 Tractor


Brian Wayne Wells

with the assistance of

Elvin Papenhausen of Princeton, Minnesota

 As published in the September/October 2003 issue of

Belt Pulley Magazine


As noted earlier the “waist” of Minnesota is the narrow part of the state, as it appears on a map.  (See the article called “The Possible Story of One”  Part I of the Loren Helmbrecht Tractor contained in the May/June 2003 issue of Belt Pulley magazine at page 28.)  The waist is located roughly half way between the northern and southern parts of the state.  Located in the waist, bordering Sherburne County on the north side is Mille Lacs County.  (See the above-cited article for a description of Sherburne County.)   This area of the State of Minnesota is where the deciduous hardwood forests of the southeastern portion of the State end and the northern coniferous forests begin.  (Theodore C. Blegen, Minnesota: A History of the State [University of Minnesota Press: Minneapolis, 1963] p. 11.)  The pine and fir trees of the northern coniferous forests spring from the same sandy soil that covers Mille Lacs County.  As described in an earlier article, the sandy soil of the area had made the area of Sherburne and Mille Lacs County a good place to raise potatoes.  Potato farming had thrived in the area of Mille Lacs and Sherburne Counties since 1890.  (See “The Possible Story of One F-12” cited above.)  In 1908, potato marketing cooperative associations began making their appearance in the State of Minnesota.  (Blegen at p. 399.)  In 1920, the Minnesota Potato Exchange was formed.

Princeton Minnesota (1920 pop. 1,685) served as a marketing outlet for the area potato crop.  Indeed, in 1901 and 1902 Princeton became the largest primary potato market in the Northwest.  One of the major potato buyers in Princeton was  O.J. Odegard Farms Inc.  Although, the Odegard family operated their own potato and onion growing operations on their own farm called “the bog,” Odegard’s served as a major buyer of potatoes for the entire Princeton area.  During the potato harvest in the fall of the year, the Odegard warehouse, located on 2nd South Street became a major employer in town.  Potatoes were received washed and packed into 100 lbs. sacks and loaded onto freight cars of the Great Northern Railroad.  The Great Northern tracks ran through town, north towards the county seat of Milaca and south to the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul.  The loading of the freight cars took place at the Great Northern Railroad Depot which is located at 10th Avenue and 1st Street in Princeton.  (This depot is now the home of the exhibits and library materials of the Mille Lacs County Historical Society.)  The potatoes were sold to wholesalers in Minneapolis.

Not only did Odegards hire on employees to work the harvest and processing of potatoes in the fall of the year, but they also hired on teenagers all summer to work on their hands and knees weeding the fields of their own farm in the bog.  This made Odegards the largest employer in the Princeton area.  (Taken from the manuscript called Memories of Princeton, Minnesota by Elvin Papenhausen.)

Princeton even developed into a market for the “culls” or unsatisfactory potatoes that potato growers could not sell on the edible potato market.  These cull potatoes were used in the manufacture of commercial starch.  On March 26, 1890 the Princeton Potato Starch Company was incorporated and a factory was built.  The factory was so busy processing cull potatoes that the factory operated both day and night.  Later a second starch factory was built in Princeton.   (From an internet document called “History of Princeton, Minnesota.”)

In 1919, following, the First World War, the International Harvester Company made their first major corporate acquisition since 1904, when they purchased the Parlin & Orendorff  (P. & O.)  Company of Canton, Illinois.  (C.H. Wendel, 150 Years of International Harvester [Crestline Pub.: Sarasota, Fla., 1981], p. 31.)  Along with their famous line of plow, the P. & O. Company also had introduced a mechanical potato digger several years prior to the merger with International Harvester.  The International Harvester Company inherited this horse-drawn mechanical potato digger.  (Ibid. p. 237.)  In 1920, International Harvester continued production of this potato digger, with some substantial improvements.  The potato digger was called the McCormick-Deering Model No. 6 potato digger.  (Ibid.)  One of the improvements of the Model No. 6 over the prior P.&O. Company potato digger was the rod-link chain apron.  The potatoes would travel over the moving apron which would shake off all the dirt.  The potatoes would then be deposited on top of the ground in plain view for the field hands to collect.  (Ibid.) 

In 1920 the local International Harvester dealership franchise in Princeton, Minnesota may have been held by the owner and operator of the local hardware store.  Starting in 1920, the International Harvester dealership in Princeton was able to compete in the potato growing market by supplying the area potato farms with mechanical potato diggers.  In 1921, International Harvester introduced the new McCormick-Deering potato planter.  Together the Model No. 6 potato digger and the new McCormick-Deering potato planter allowed the dealership in Princeton to prosper all through the early part of the 1920s.  Sales of farm equipment allowed the hardware store to advertise employment for a position of farm equipment sales person.

In answer to the newspaper advertisement of the position of sales person at the hardware store an ambitious 24-year-old man by the name of Floyd Hall arrived in Princeton. Born in Henry, South Dakota, on January 30, 1896 to W. K. and Grace (Henry) Hall, Floyd had married Eva Leathers on October 11, 1916.  Eva was also from the town of Henry.  In 1918, while still living in Henry, Eva had given birth to their son, Willard F. Hall.  Now in 1920, she was pregnant again with a daughter.  Marjorie Hall was born to the couple in December of 1920. Continue reading

The 1936 Loren Helmbrecht Farmall F-12 (Part II)

The Farmall F-12: The 1936 Loren Helmbrecht Tractor (Part II)


Brian Wayne Wells

As published in the July/August 2003 issue of

Belt Pulley Magazine

  As we have noted on a previous occasion, the 1936 F-12 bearing the Serial No. 65999 could well have been sold from Dingman Hardware, the International Harvester dealership in the town of Clear Lake, Minnesota (1930 pop. 242).  (See the May/June 2003 issue of Belt Pulley magazine for the article called “The Farmall F-12: The 1935 Minnesota State Fair.”)  No. 65999 had been sold to a dairy farmer living in Sherburne County, Minnesota, and in Palmer Township of that county.  Our Palmer Township farmer had put the tractor to use in the spring of 1936.  It had been a very cold, record breaking winter, especially January and February of 1936.  Indeed, Cedric Adams on WCCO radio out of the Twin Cities (Minneapolis and St. Paul) had reported that the temperature had never risen above 0° for a total of 36 straight days during that period of time.  However the cold weather broke in late February and except for another cold snap in early April, the temperature had evened off into a very nice planting season.  (Downtown Minneapolis Daily Maximum and Minimum Temperatures for 1936 from the Internet.) That spring our Palmer Township farmer was putting No. 65999 to use in a number of different tasks around his farm.  He had shortened the hitches on much of the horse-drawn machinery on his farm that spring.  It always seemed to be handier to start the little F-12 than to get the Belgian horses all harnessed up just to complete even small tasks on the farm.  His records were also reflecting that use of the tractor was actually proving more economical in the long run than using the horses for the same tasks.  He wished to see just how much of the work on the farm could be accomplished by the little dark gray tractor.  Now he used the horses only during the days when his second daughter was able to help out with the field work.  She was becoming quite an expert at driving the tractor.  As always, she wanted to be involved with whatever her father was doing.  Thus, while she was preparing the seed bed with the tractor, her father was using the horses to plant the corn.  While she was in School during May of that year, he used the tractor to plant the rest of the corn.  He wanted to see if the tractor was truly the “farm all” that it was advertised to be. It was not because No. 65999 performed the farm tasks at a faster rate of speed than horses that made the tractor more profitable.  Even at top speed (3-3/4 mph) the little tractor was no faster than a horse.  Rather it was the stamina of the tractor as opposed to the horses that made the F-12 profitable and 1936 was the year that our Palmer Township farmer was to prove the economy of tractor power as opposed to horse power in this regard.  Shortly after he had planted his corn in the spring of 1936, he finished up his morning milking.  After letting the cows out of the barn, he went to the machine shed to get the tractor and manure spreader.  He always tried to park the tractor close to the two 55 gallon barrels that he now had in the machine shed.  These barrels, sitting upright, were filled with kerosene for the tractor.  One barrel had the bung plug removed.  Screwed into the bung hole was the J.J. Groetken Pump Co. barrel hand pump which he had purchased at an auction at a neighbors farm.   (Jack Sim, An Illustrated Guide to GasPumps [Krause Pub.: Iola, Wisc., 2002] p. 190.)  The Groetken Pump Co. had ceased advertising in 1927.  Clearly, he would not be able to replace the pump or finds parts for the hand pump once it wore out.  However, the hand pump seemed to be working so far and the price he had paid was very reasonable.  He would worry about the demise of the hand pump when it happened.  The Groetken hand pump had a hose attached to the outlet nozzle of the pump.  He put unscrewed the cap to the opening on top of the fuel tank of the tractor.  Inserting the hose and observing the level of the fuel in the tractor tank he began turning the crank on the hand pump with his other hand.  After filling the 13-gallon tank sufficiently, he unscrewed cap on what appeared to be another opening to the same tank.  Actually, this was an opening into a second smaller compartment within the fuel tank.  This one-gallon compartment held the gasoline that was used to get the tractor started.  From a partially filled five-gallon gas can, he had in the machine shed he filled this little tank with the more expensive gasoline.  Then he took an 8” Crescent wrench from the work bench located nearby and opened the plug on the fuel line vent which protruded through the hood of the little tractor just above the engine.  By opening the valve at the bottom of the fuel bowl, he let all the kerosene out of the carburetor and the fuel line.  Then he reached back under the fuel tank and turned off the fuel coming from the kerosene tank and turned on the valve leading from the gasoline tank.  With a bit of gasoline from the five-gallon can, he now poured gasoline down the gasoline vent and replaced the plug.  The engine was now all primed to start and start it did after one pull upwards on the crank with the choke on and another upwards pull with the choke off the tractor came to life.  This certainly was faster than harnessing up the horses. He backed the tractor out shed and turned it around and hitched it to the New Idea Model 8 manure spreader and headed to the barn.  (For a discussion of the New Idea No. 8 and a history of the New Idea Company, see the article “The New Idea Spreader Company of Coldwater , Ohio” contained in the September/October 1998 issue of Belt Pulley magazine, p. 14.) Continue reading

The 1936 Loren Helmbrecht Farmall F-12 Tractor (Part I)

             The Farmall F-12 (Part I): The 1935 Minnesota State Fair


Brian Wayne Wells

As published in the May/June 2003 issue of

Belt Pulley Magazine

          When looking at a map, Minnesota appears as a tall state with a narrow “waist” in the middle.  In actual fact, this “waist” is important in the geography of the state, as it separates the rich agricultural area of the southern part of the state from the acid, sandy, more marginal agricultural soils of the north.  Whereas the land south of the waist is divided between the hardwood forests of southeastern Minnesota and the flat prairies of the southwestern part of the state, the land north of the waist is dominated by soft woods – pine and fir trees.  Minnesota is known as the “Land of 10,000 Lakes,” but in actuality, that figure may be closer to 100,000 lakes, with most of the lakes located in the northern part of the state.  With the exception of the Red River valley which forms the border between Minnesota and North Dakota, farming tends to become more marginal as one travels north of the waist.

Consequently, the waist of Minnesota forms an important watershed in the state in terms of geography, agriculture and fishing.  One of the counties of the waist is Sherburne County.  The east border of Sherburne County runs directly north from the Minnesota River at a point just 50 miles northwest of the Twin Cities.  From another point on the Minnesota River directly across from the City of St. Cloud (1930 pop. 21,000), the north border of the county extends straight east until it meets the eastern border of the county forming a 90# angle.  Thus, with the Minnesota River forming the hypotenuse of the triangular shaped county, Sherburne County appears on the map as a near perfect right triangle, lying along the northern bank of the Minnesota River as it flows southward from St. Cloud to the Twin Cities of Minneapolis (1930 pop. 464,356) and St. Paul (1930 pop. 271,606).  Located between these two population centers of the state, Sherburne County was, in the mid-1930s, one of the least populated counties in the entire state.  (1930 pop. 9,709).  Much of the land of the county was hilly and remained covered with trees–not well suited to agricultural crop growing.  Indeed a great portion of Sherburne County would later be set aside by the national and state governments through the establishment of the Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge and the Sand Dune State Forrest.

Outside of these two recreational areas, farming in Sherburne County was confined to either the area located along the northern bank of the Minnesota River or the townships in the western part of the county near St. Cloud.  The sandy soil of the area of the county along the Minnesota River and U.S. Highway 10, which runs roughly parallel to the Minnesota River, was found to be perfect for farming potatoes.  Indeed, from about 1890 to the late 1920s, this area was second only to the famous Red River Valley of the North in the production of potatoes in the State of Minnesota.  However, the Great Depression which began in 1929 caused many people in the towns of the United States to start growing their own potatoes in their back yards in order to save money during the hard economic times.  Thus, the commercial market for potatoes collapsed and potato production in Sherburne County came to a near complete halt.  Farmers of the area suffered from the effects of their lack of diversification in their farming operations.  They struggled to get into raising corn or other crops in an attempt to save their farms.  Specialization in potato production would return to this part of Sherburne County in the 1950s, but in the interim, potatoes in Sherburne County would be grown only on a much reduced scale.

In the other major faming area of the county, near St. Cloud, farmers were also hard hit by the economic effects of the Great Depression.  However, this was a dairy producing area.  It was a land of rolling hills.  The farms were small with irregular shaped fields.  Generally, the fields were used for pasturage of dairy cattle.  Whatever flat land existed was planted in corn.  While this might appear from the surface to be a diversification of the farming operations of the county, it really was not.  The small amounts of corn that were raised in this area of the county would generally be used by the farmer on his dairy farm each year to feed his cattle.  Thus, during the Great Depression, farmers of this area also suffered from a lack of diversification.  The one advantage dairy farmers had over potato farmers of the area was that, while town families may have been able to save money by growing their own potatoes, they could not save money by milking their own cows.  Thus, even though butter prices hit a new low of 184 per pound in the summer of 1932 (John D. Hicks, Republican Ascendancy, [Harper Bros.: New York 1960], p. 267) and milk prices did not do well throughout the next year, established farmers were able to hang on until dairy prices returned to acceptable levels again.

One of the townships of the western, dairy area end of Sherburne County was Palmer Township.  Farming an 80-acre farm in the northwestern part of Palmer Township was one particular farmer.  He had been operating this farm since taking over the operations from his wife’s family.  His farm was far enough removed from the Minnesota River and U.S. 10 that it had never been a potato farm.  This farm was a dairy farm and had been a dairy farm since his father-in-law had begun farming.

Just as his father-in-law had done before him, he took pride in the small herd of registered, purebred Jersey milking cows that he raised on the farm.  The fawn-colored, black-faced Jersey cow is the smallest in stature of all the traditional breeds of dairy cattle—with cows weighing only about 1000 pounds at full maturity.  (Sara Rath, About Cows [Voyageur Press: Stillwater, Minn., 1987] p. 23.)  (By way of comparison a Holstein cow can weigh around 1,500 pounds at maturity. Ibid. p. 21.)  As a result, Jersey cattle did not produce as great a quantity of milk with each milking as did the popular Holstein cow, but Jersey milk was the richest milk in terms of butterfat content of any of the traditional breeds of cattle.  It was a point of pride with our Palmer Township farmer, as it was with other Jersey dairymen, that the golden or yellow colored Jersey milk traditionally contained on average about 5.2% butterfat, whereas Holstein cows traditionally yielded milk with only about 3.23% butterfat.  (Encyclopedia Britannica, [Chicago 1976], Vol. 5, p. 425.)  Holstein milk was sometimes derogatorily referred to as “blue milk” because it was so low in butterfat content.  (an interview with Marilyn [Hanks] Wells in November of 2002.)  Continue reading

Behlen Manufacturing Company (Part IV): The Rest of the Story

       The Behlen Manufacturing Company Part IV:

The Rest of the Story


Brian Wayne Wells

As published in the March/April 2003 issue of

Belt Pulley Magazine


Following World War II, the Behlen Manufacturing Company of Columbus, Nebrfaska, marketed its own supplemental transmission called the “Hi-Speed gear box.”  (See the article called “The Behlen Company—Part II: The Hi-Speed Gear Box” posted on this website and published in the November/December 2002 issue of Belt Pulley, Vol 15, No. 6, p. 8.)  The Hi-Speed gear box modernized and updated many pre-war Farmall Model F-20 tractors and allowed then to be used profitably in the post-war era.  One example was the Farmall F-20 bearing the serial number 127631.  (See the article called “The Behlen Company—Part III: 1974—the Soybean Year” also posted on this website and published in the January/February 2003 issue of Belt Pulley, Vol 16, No. 1.)

Sales of the Hi-Speed gear box had been so successful that the Behlen Manufacturing Company soon found that it was ordering gears from wholesalers in Chicago by the truck load.  The management of the company concluded that it would be less expensive for the Company to start cutting, hardening and grinding, their own gears.  Hobbing, grinding and heat treating equipment were all obtained and installed at the factory facilities in Columbus, Nebraska.  (Walter D. Behlen, The Story of the Behlen Manufacturing Company [a speech given at the Cornhusker Hotel in Lincoln, Nebraska on October 11, 1968] p. 3.)  However, production of the Hi-Speed gear box was destined to be limited.  It could not have been otherwise.  Sooner or later, continued upgrading of the pre-war tractors would become unnecessary because older tractors would be replaced on the average family farm by new improved tractors that were already fitted with modern transmissions that would not need upgrading.  However as the Hi-Speed gear box faded as a product for the Company, another new product for farm tractors and road graders arose—the hydraulic power steering unit.

Throughout the 1950’s the International Harvester Company had been locked in a struggle to remain in first place in the sales of farm equipment.  Although between 1945 and 1960, sales of farm tractors in the United States had doubled and sales of combines had tripled, International Harvester had been loosing market share in the farm equipment business.  (Barbara Marsh A Corporate Tragedy: The Agony of International Harvester Company [Doubleday and Co.: Garden City, New York, 1985] p. 101.)  By 1958, International Harvester would be in second place behind its chief rival Deere and Company.  (Ibid. p. 94.)  One of the main reasons for this was that while International Harvester was dissipating its energies and resources on forays into the refrigerator and freezer market and by investing heavily in the very small tractor market—the Farmall Cub, John Deere was continually improving its large tractors—its core product.  In 1954, John Deere introduced power steering on its large tractors.  Caught behind on this advance in technology, International Harvester sought to quickly add power steering to large tractors.  International Harvester turned to the Behlen Company to supply the power steering units that they required for installation on their new tractors—the Model 350, Model 450 and Model 650 introduced in 1956.  Development of the power steering unit had cost the Behlen Company $50,000.00 Sales of the power steering unit to the upgrade market only had resulted in a loss of $20,000.00 to the Behlen Company.  However, International Harvester’s first order for power steering units turned things around for the Behlen Company  and brought $268,000.00 to the Behlen Company.  Two years later the net profit derived from the power steering units along was $750,000.00.  (Walter D. Behlen, The Story of the Behlen Manufacturing Company, p. 4.)

Still grain systems remained the flagship product of the Behlen Company.  The Company had come a long way with its production of grain systems.  As noted previously, in the period of time immediately following the Second World War, galvanized wire mesh for the building of round corn cribs had been so difficult to obtain that the Behlen Company had launched off into its own welding and galvanizing of the wire mesh.  (See the article called “The Behlen Company: Part I” in the September/October 2002 issue of Belt Pulley, Vol. 15, No. 5, p. 10.)  The wire rod, itself, for making the wire mesh panels, had also been difficult for the Behlen Company to obtain domestically in the immediate post war era.  Thus, the Behlen Company had to import its first wire rod from Europe rather than buying from United States sources.  The making of Behlen corn cribs continued to be the Company’s best sales product until 1960 when grain bins for shelled corn began taking over the crib market.  (Ibid. p. 3.)  Construction of the corn cribs and later grain bins along with the grain dryers and entire grain systems required a great deal of steel, stainless steel and aluminum bolts.  Once again to lower costs of production, in 1956, the Behlen Company expanded its own production and manufacture of bolts to include stainless steel and aluminum bolts.  (Ibid. p. 4.) Continue reading