(As published in the March-April 1996 issue of Belt Pulley magazine.)
Threshing shows are appealing because of the opportunity they offer to step back into the past. At these shows, most public attention is usually given to the threshing machines being powered by an un-styled tractor of the pre-World War II era as opposed to a styled tractor from the post-war era. When un-styled tractors are used, amateur photographers can often position themselves away from the crowd and take pictures that look like they could have been taken in the 1930s. Anything that adds a 1930s touch to a threshing scene will appeal to the public.
Generally, at the LeSueur County Pioneer Power Show in LeSueur, Minnesota only modern hayracks built for hauling bales have been employed for hauling bundles of grain to the threshers. These hayracks, with their rubber tires and lack of side supports and front standards, are of a design that definitely date from the post-World War II baled-hay era. In recent years, one touch that added authenticity to the threshing scene at the LeSueur Show, was the bundle wagon built by Dennis Waskovsky of Faribualt, Minnesota. The Waskovsky bundle wagon, with its steel wheels, side supports, and front and rear standards, was a definite addition to the show. Because it was the only authentic bundle wagon at the LeSueur Show, the Waskovsky wagon was moved from thresher to thresher to allow authentic photos to be taken.
Currently, there is a definite need for more “pre-war” style bundle wagons. To make the matter even more urgent, the Waskovsky wagon was heavily damaged at the 1995 Show when a strong gust of wind picked it up and flipped it over on its top. Although Dennis Waskovsky is rebuilding the bundle wagon, interest was kindled for the addition of other genuine bundle wagons. One such bundle wagon which could be built is the “Larson wagon.”
Not much is known about Mr. Larson, the man who designed the wagon. Indeed, even Mr. Larson’s first name has been lost over the period of time since he was last contacted by members of the Hanks family in 1935.
The Larson wagon had a good reputation in Faribault county and southern Blue Earth County, Minnesota, as being a very strong and dependable hayrack/bundle wagon. Building a Larson wagon would not only serve to add authenticity to the LeSueur County Pioneer Power Show, but would preserve another small part of the history of rural Faribault and Blue Earth Counties.
The story of the Larson wagon first intersects with the family of Fred Marshall Hanks starting in 1919. Fred Marshall Hanks had farmed his parents’ farm in Verona Township, Faribault County, near Winnebago, Minnesota, since the untimely death of his father on January 11, 1916. Indeed, he had gradually taken over more and more of the operation of the farm long before that time. He had married Jeanette More Ogilvie from Pilot Grove Township in Faribault County on October 13, 1889, and together they moved into the Hanks farm house with his parents. They had a son, Howard Bruce Hanks, on October 7, 1895. Three other sons would follow: John Stanley, on July 27, 1902; Harlan David, on February 21, 1905; and Kenneth Warner, on December 16, 1908. The Hanks family operated a diversified farm, like most others in Verona Township, raising oats, wheat, corn, and hay. The livestock consisted of a milking herd, sheep, hogs, and chickens. Fred Marshall’s father was a master at woodworking, and put this skill to work in a profitable way, building many of the barns in Verona Township and the surrounding area. In 1900, the Hanks family purchased the 40-acre Baldwin farm which bordered the Hanks farm to the east and moved the Baldwin barn to the Hanks farm building site where it became the “bull barn.” The Baldwin house was also moved to the Hanks farm where it became a woodworking shop.
Fred Marshall was not interested in woodworking, as was his father. His interest was consumed in farming. He loved farming and was constantly looking for ways to improve his methods of farming. In 1900, as he began to assume more responsibilities of the farm, Fred Marshall gradually began changing the dairy from a cross-bred herd to a purebred Polled Shorthorn herd, schooling himself on the proper traits to develop in an animal for purebred livestock. A 1904 advertising card (which still exists in the possession of Fred’s son Harlan Hanks) shows that by 1904 Fred Marshall was not only raising his own stock, but was selling purebred Polled Shorthorn cattle and purebred Duroc hogs to other farmers in the area. By 1910, his reputation had grown to the point that buyers of purebred cattle and/or purebred hogs showed up on the Hanks farm on a regular basis from across the nation to buy breeding stock.
One day in 1919, a farmer by the name of Larson, from Frost, Minnesota, arrived on the Hanks farm to buy one of the purebred Polled Shorthorn bulls. During the conversation, Mr. Larson divulged that he had devised a new design for a horse-drawn hayrack/bundle wagon. His “Larson” hayracks were made with curved pieces of metal which served as supports for the sides of the hayrack. These metal supports connected the sides of the hayrack with the floor.
The sides of earlier hayrack/bundle wagon had been supported by 2 x 4 vertical pieces of wood which were attached to the floor of the wagon. When this design was found to be too flimsy, diagonal pieces of wood were added to the vertical sides, connecting the sides to the floor at two separate locations about a foot from the outside edge, thus making the wagon stronger because of the triangle that was formed by the support with the floor of the wagon. However, these diagonals interfered with the men working inside the hayrack unloading loose hay or bundles of wheat or oats with a pitchfork. The solution to this problem, followed by some hayrack designs, was to have the vertical side supports protrude beneath the level of the floor of the hayrack and to connect the triangulation diagonals from the bottoms of the vertical side supports to the underside of the floor of the hayrack. The bothersome diagonals were then under the floor of the rack. This was a better design, but still farmers found that the side supports interfered with any work that had to be done under the wagon, such as removing a wheel on the wagon gear to grease the axle. The metal supports in the Larson-designed hayrack were the key to the design that made the Larson hayrack/bundle wagon unique. They eliminated the need for any triangulation support either above or beneath the floor of the hayrack. This made for a much lighter and cleaner designed hayrack.
Based on this design with the metal supports, Mr. Larson made hayracks for use on his own farm. His neighbors, having seen the benefits of his design, had requested that he build hayracks of the same style for them or that he provide them with the metal supports so that they could build the hayracks themselves. As a consequence, the Larson design became quite popular around the Frost area of Faribault County. Continue reading The “Larson” Bundle Wagon→
++__________Soybean Farming in Butternut Valley Township (Part 2 of 2 parts):
The 1944 Farmall Model H Tractor
Brian Wayne Wells
As noted, previously, Butternut Valley Township is located in the extreme northwestern corner of Blue Earth County, Minnesota. (See the first article in this series called “Soybean Farming in Butternut Valley Township [Part 1]” also published in the blog section of this website.) Also, as previously noted, in 1942 Butternut Valley Township was the home of a particular diversified 160 acre family farming operation. Our Butternut Valley Township farer and his wife had lived on this farm since they were married in 1919. As a diversified farming operation, he and his wife milked a Holstein dairy herd, raised pigs and had a chicken flock. They sold milk and eggs off the farm for regular income. Each summer they marketed the pigs they had raised to provide cash income in the summer. In the fields, they raised oats and hay. Originally the oats were raised to feed their horses as well as their chickens and the hay was used to feed both the cows and the horses.
Since obtaining a “used” 1929 Farmall Regular tricycle-style tractor in 1937, he had greatly reduced the number of horses his farm. Thus, he had been able to reduce the number of acres planted to oats and hay each year. The largest crop on the farm was corn. Part of the corn crop was cut in August each year, while it was still green. This corn was then fed into the silo filler and blown into the silo which stood next to the barn. The silage in the silo would be used all winter to feed the dairy herd. The remaining corn would be picked in the late autumn and the ears of corn would be stored in the corn crib. Part of this corn would be shelled and saved to fatten the pigs for market. The rest of the corn would be sold to provide cash income in the winter. Consequently, the corn was a cash crop as well as source of animal food.
Since the attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese in December of 1941, a new market for plastics had arisen. Soybeans was the main raw product used in making plastics. Accordingly, since 1941,. the market price for soybeans had been soaring. Because he now planted less acres in hay and oats, our Butternut Valley Township farmer decided to plant that extra acreage to soybeans in the spring of 1942. The growing season of 1942 was almost perfect. Both soybeans and corn were bumper crops. Furthermore, the price of these two farm products rose to high levels. Consequently, our Butternut Valley Township farmer had one of his best years in terms of farm income. As a result, he seriously think about upgrading his farming operation by trading the old 1929 Farmall Regular in on the purchase of a new modern farm tractor.
After selling his corn, our Butternut Valley Township farmer was able to pay off all his debts and find that he still had a comfortable balance of funds in the bank. As a result, he again visited the Fesenmaier Hardware dealership. He had heard rumors that more Famall H’s with rubber tires were starting to be manufactured, again, due to the fact that more rubber was starting to be released by the government for civilian production. This time he told the staff at the Fesenmaier dealership to place his name on the list for a rubber-tired Farmall H. However, he told them he only wanted a Farmall H with rubber tires, electric starting and hydraulics. He needed the new tractor now more than ever before.
In the spring of 1943, our Butternut Valley Township farmer increased the amount of acreage he planted to soybeans. He kept waiting for his Farmall H to arrive at the Fesenmaier Hardware dealership. However, very few Farmall Model H tractors arrived at the dealership in New Ulm, Minnesota in 1943 because the manufacturing capacity of the International Harvester Company was still being dominated by government-military contacts. By 1943, ⅔ or 66.6% of the Company’s sales contracts were for military hardware. (Barbara Marsh, A Corporate Tragedy: The Agony of International Harvester p. 71.) Consequently, production of farm tractors by the IHC declined even more. Although already greatly curtailed, production of the Farmall Model H fell off by another 6% in 1943 when compared with the previous year. Rubber pneumatic tires for the Farmall H had been almost totally unavailable since July of 1942. However, starting in July of 1943 rubber tires for the Farmall H started to become available again on a limited basis. (Guy Fay and Andy Kraushaar, Farmall Letter Series Tractors [MBI Publishing Co.: Osceola, Wisconsin, 1998] p. 73.) Thus, the rumors that our Butternut Valley Township farmer had heard in the early spring of 1943, that rubber tires were once again becoming available for Farmall tractors, proved to be a bit premature. Continue reading Soybean Farming in Butternut Township (Part 2 of 2parts)→
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A 1938 Allis-Chalmers Model WC Tractor at Work
by Brian Wayne Wells
As published in the July/August 2007 issue of
Belt Pulley Magazine)
Ever since it’s introduction in 1933, the row-crop, tricycle design-style Model WC tractor had been a very successful sales item for the Allis-Chalmers Manufacturing Company. As noted, previously, the sales of the Model WC tractor created a real opportunity for various businesses, like the H.B. Seitzer and Company dealership of St. Peter, Minnesota. (See the article called the “Allis-Chalmers Two-Row Corn Picker at Work” for the story of the H.B. Seitzer and company dealership, contained in the May/June 2007 issue of Belt Pulley magazine.) An even more dramatic example of the Model WC tractor creating business opportunities for local franchise owners, is the story of Albert E. Anderson. It is a story of an immigrant to the United States from Sweden.
Prior to 1880, Sweden had been the leading exporter of oats to the England. Oats were important, primarily, as feed for horses. Secondarily, were oats were rolled as oat meal for human consumption. As England industrialized, the country needed more oats to feed the growing non-agricultural, urban sector of the population and to feed the increasing number of horses employed off the farm. For decades, Sweden had filled England’s growing demand for oats. Growing oats for this market had kept money flowing into the provinces of southeastern Sweden best-known for agricultural products. Indeed, oats were in such demand that even the marginal lands of the southwestern provinces of Sweden—like the province of Smalund—were plowed and planted to oats.
However, by 1880 England had begun importing cheaper oats from the United States. The opening of the upper midwest of the United States after the War Between the States greatly expanded the capacity of the United States to become an inexpensive supplier of oats. The price of oats from the United States severely undercut the cost of production of oats in Sweden. Thus, by 1880, Sweden had lost a huge part of its foreign export market in oats to the United States. This created a long term economic recession in rural Sweden. Predictably, the young people of rural Sweden began to look for new economic opportunities outside of Sweden. Emmigration from Sweden, during this time, came largely from southern Sweden and, largely, from those southwestern provinces with more marginal agricultural land.
One of those young persons was Albert E. Anderson. Albert had been born in Sweden on November 15, 1884. One of the most consistent and pervasive facts of his early life in Sweden had been the steady flow of friends, neighbors and relatives out of Sweden. Most of these young people left their native land to seek their fortune in the United States of America. If the letters and messages from relatives already living in the United States could be believed, life was bliss in the New World.
Albert had training as a blacksmith. However, the income that he could derive from this vocation in Sweden was so insignificant that he finally decided to leave Sweden for good. Accordingly, Albert sailed to Copenhagen, Denmark to catch the S.S. Oscar II sailing from Copenhagen to the United States. The S.S. Oscar II arrived in New York on April 8, 1909. Sailing past the Statue of Liberty the ship landed at Ellis Island in New York harbor. From the time that he descended the gang plank of the S.S. Oscar and stepped onto the dock on Ellis Island, Al Anderson found everything was strange and new. As he made his way up the large stone staircase in the central hallway of the Ellis Island facility, Albert was considerably anxious about the medical examinations and other processes he would have to undergo on the island. If he did not pass the physical examination on Ellis Island, he could be sent back to Sweden. Little did he know that by the time that he reached the top of the staircase, his medical examination was largely completed. The meager medical staff on the Island was swamped with the large number of immigrants that landed each day. Consequently, the “medical examinations” of the incoming immigrants were considerably abbreviated and consisted, largely, of the medical staff on Island merely observing the immigrants as they made their way up the long flight of stairs in large central hallway of the main building. Any individual immigrant that appeared to have trouble climbing the flight of stairs would be pulled aside for further medical tests. Clearly, Albert Anderson passed his “medical examination” and was leaving Ellis Island much sooner than he expected. As previously arranged, he started out of New York and headed straight westward toward Verona Township in Faribault County in Minnesota where he expected to meet some of his family members and old neighbors from his old community in Sweden. Albert hoped to put his experience as a blacksmith to work in the small growing settlement of Huntley, Minnesota located in Verona Township. Shortly after arriving in Huntley, Albert established a hardware business in a building in the small un-incorporated settlement that was Huntley.
Within the first few years in Huntley, Albert Anderson met a young lady, named Phoebe G. Skabrud. They fell in love and were married in 1914. In August of 1915, Phoebe gave birth to a son, Paul C. Anderson. Their family was completed by the birth of a daughter, Florence Phoebe, born on November 10, 1917; and finally a son, Albert Elden, born in 1921.
When the 1920 United States Census taker showed up in Huntley, Minnesota, on January 22, 1920, he listed Al Anderson’s primary language as “Swedish.” However, in Huntley, Al Anderson was not alone. The Census report listed a number of heads of household within the settlement of Huntley that also spoke Swedish. Additionally, the Census report indicated that, in 1920, Al Anderson was already occupied as a “merchant” in the “farm machinery” business. One would have to surmise that Al Anderson knew enough English to not only make himself understood in English, but could actually make a successful sales pitch to English-speaking customers. By the time of the 1930 United States Census, Albert Anderson’s occupation was listed as a “proprietor” of a business described as a “hardware/farm implement” business.
As shown previously, the Allis-Chalmers Manufacturing Company, in the mid-to-late 1930s, engaged in a campaign to build up and extend its nationwide sales network. (See the history of the Distel Oil Company dealership described in the article called “The Rinehardt/Christian/Boehne Allis-Chalmers Model E Threshermans Special Tractor” in March/April 2007 issue of Belt Pulley magazine and the history of the H.B. Seitzer and Company dealership described in the article called “The Allis-Chalmers Two-Row Corn Picker at Work” contained in the May/June 2007 issue of Belt Pulley magazine.) This campaign was carried on by Allis-Chalmers sales representatives scouring the countryside of the Midwest looking for local businesses that would be willing to become Allis-Chalmers franchise dealers. When the sales representatives arrived in Faribault County sometime in the mid-1930s, they must have found the Al Anderson hardware store, which already had a long history of serving as a local farm machinery sales outlet, an attractive prospect. For his part, Al Anderson knew that by becoming an authorized Allis Chalmers dealer, he would be able to sell farm tractors along with all the other farm machinery he already was offering to the farming public of his community. Al Anderson realized that, by accepting the offer of an Allis Chalmers dealership, he would suddenly become “full line” farm equipment dealership. Furthermore, Al knew that the Model WC row-crop tractor was a very popular sales item. As noted in a previous article, sales of the Model WC tractor had been explosive since the tractor had been introduced in 1933. (See the article called “An Allis-Chalmers Two-Row Mounted Corn Picker at Work” contained in the May/June 2007 issue of Belt Pulley magazine.) Nation-wide, sales of the Model WC had reached 29,006 tractors in 1936. Last year in 1937, nation-wide sales had dipped, somewhat, to 14,426 tractors because of the recession of 1937. However, so far in 1938, sales of the Model WC were starting to pick up again as the effects of the 1937 recession started to wear off. Accordingly, Al Anderson agreed to become the local Allis-Chalmers franchise dealership for Huntley, Minnesota. His sales area would cover not only Verona Township where Huntley was located, but also the larger area of western Faribault County and eastern Martin Counties in southern Minnesota.
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 at 933 Andover Street 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.
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.
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.)
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. This fact led to a common joke among dairymen which goes: There was a Jersey dairy farmer talking with a Holstein farmer. The Jersey farmer said that Holstein blue milk was so “thin” that he could drop a dime in a pail of milk from a Holstein and still see the dime through the blue milk. The Holstein farmer replied that he could also see a dime dropped into a pail of Jersey milk–because there was so little milk from an individual Jersey cow that the milk would not cover the thickness of a dime! (an interview with Marilyn [Hanks] Wells in November of 2002.) Continue reading The 1936 Loren Helmbrecht Farmall F-12 Tractor (Part I)→
The Mankato Implement Company (Part 1 of 2 Parts):
Wilmer Thrun 1937 John Deere Model B (Short Frame) Tractor
Brian Wayne Wells
As published in the March/April 2002 issue of
Belt Pulley Magazine
As has been noted on previous occasions most farm equipment dealorships grew out of the traditional small-town general store or hardware store. (See the article “The Grams & Krautkremer Hardware: John Deere Dealor in Jordan Minnesota” in the July/August issue of Belt Pulley Vo. 13, No. 4, p. 16 and the article “Ray Christian/Easterlund Impliment of LeSueur, Minnesotaand the Wagner/Wacker 1947 John Deere A” in the September/October 2000 issue of the Belt Pulley Vol. 13, No. 5, p. 18.) These early “dealorships” sometimes held the franchises to multiple competing farm equipment companies. (Regular readers will remember the fact that the Miles Supply in the small settlement in Clear Creek Township in Eau Claire, Wisconsin had both a John Deere franchise and an International Harvester franchise. (See the article “The Rosenthal Cornhusker Company of Millwaukee, Wisconsin [Part IV]: the Cornbine” in the November/December 2001 issue of is Belt Pulley Vol 14, No. 6.) Indeed, some small towns would have two franchises from the same company. Two John Deere dealors in the same town would create as much competition between John Deere and John Deere as it would between John Deere and International Harvester within that town. Barbara Marsh, A Corporate Tragedy: The Agony of International Harvester (Doubleday: Garden City, New York, 1985) p. 99.) This situation was not conducive to the efficient sales network that the farm equipment companies wished to establish.
Both International Harvester and the John Deere Company began to change this situation. John Deere initiated a plan for “key dealorships” program. Realizing that farmers in the 1920s were willing to drive further (over the increasing number of newly paved roads) to find large dealerships which would serve their entire farm machinery needs, John Deere sought to establish larger dealorships in larger towns–especially county seats of the various counties across rural America. Ibid.
One such county seat was Mankato, Minnesota (1920 pop. 12,469), located on the Minnesota River on the northern edge of Blue Earth County. Because John Deere had no franchise holder in Mankato, the Company decided to establish a Company-owned dealership in Mankato–Mankato Implement Company. (This was not Mankato’s first experience with a company-owned dealership. International Harvester had established a company-owned dealership at 301 So. Second Street in Mankato in 1905. Later this company-owned dealership was moved to 426 No. Front Street where it stayed for nearly 60 years. Long-time readers of the Belt Pulley will remember that in the article “Deering and McCormick Grain Binders” in the May/June 1995 issue of Belt Pulley Vol. 8, No. 3, p. 21, was accompanied by a small reproduction of a poster from the International Harvester Company dealership located at 426 No. Front Street in Mankato, Minnesota. It was implied in that article the John and Mary Depuydt 10 foot McCormick-Deering grain binder had been purchased from that dealership in the 1940s. Additionally, readers may remember that in the article “The Wartime Farmall H” contained in the July/August 1994 issue of Belt Pulley Vo. 7, No. 4 p. 14, it was noted that Fred and Bruce Hanks had made their way to Mankato for some shopping in the winter of 1944-1945. There they purchased a pair of new drop center cast iron wheels and matching rims for the 1942 Farmall H they had just purchased. Although the name of the dealership was not mentioned in that article, the wheels and rims for the Farmall H were purchased at the International Harvester company-owned dealership in Mankato.)
In 1930, John Deere also decided to establish a company-owned dealership in Mankato, Minnesota, originally it was planned that the dealership would also serve as a “branch house” or a distribution center for the other smaller John Deere dealerships around southern Minnesota. For the purposes of establishing this dealorship/block house, John Deere sent Joseph Rolstad to Mankato in the spring of 1930. He took a room at a boarding house located at 328 Center Street and served as the first general manager or “branch manager” of the new company owned dealership which became known as the Mankato Implement Comany. A building was purchased at 212 North Front Street and the new dealership was initiated. Later the premises next door, at 210 North Front Street were also acquired and merged with the dealership and the address of the Mankato Implement Company dealership was officially changes to 210 No. Front Street. Later it was decided that the branch house for the entire state of Minnesota would be the Deere and Webber Company distributorship located at 800-828 Washington Avenue North in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Thus, the Mankato Implement Company lost its destination as a branch house and became a straight dealership.
It had never been the intent of Joseph Rolstad to serve as the permanent manager of the new dealership. He was merely assigned the duty of coming to Mankato to get the dealership up and running and then move on to another assignment as soon as a permanent manager had been hired. A couple of permanent managers were tried but eventually, in the spring of 1934, Lore E. Smith was hired as permanent manager of the Mankato Implement Company. Lore and his wife, Marie, moved into a house at 918 No. Second Street in Mankato. In addition to the new dealership at 210 North Front Street, John Deere had purchased a building at 1101 North Broad Street in Mankato to serve as their warehouse. Continue reading The Willmar Thrun 1937 John Deere Model B (Short Frame) Tractor (Part I): The Mankato Implement Company→
The PAPEC Company of Shortsville, New York (Part 1)
Brian Wayne Wells
As published in the November/December 1995 issue of
Belt Pulley Magazine
The storing of forage in a silo to cure into ensilage became popular in the United States in the 1890s. To mechanize that process, the stationary silo filler was invented.
Silo fillers started out as complicated machines which chopped bundles of green corn plants and piled the chopped corn into stacks to be elevated into silos. Eventually, stationary silo fillers were modified and simplified to a single-stage machine which chopped corn into the appropriate size and then blew the ensilage up a large pipe for distribution inside a silo, all in one step. This was the stationary silo filler as it is most commonly known.
Many small companies sprang up at about the turn of the century to supply the farmers’ demand for these silo fillers. One of these companies was founded by Billy Hamlin in Lima, New York, in 1901, and was organized with capital from members of the Hamlin family. Billy Hamlin had originally wanted to name the company the Union Manufacturing Company; however, he found that there were already six other companies with that name in New York State at that time. Accordingly, he decided on a name that would emphasize the main product manufactured by his company–silo fillers. The name he created was the Pneumatic and Propeller Ensilage Company. The only drawback about the name was that it was hard to pronounce and so the name was shortened to the mnemonic P.A.P.E.C., or Papec.
Billy Hamlin had purchased a Canadian patent for an “ensilage cutter” and set about refining the design cutter to make an improved silo filler. Thus, in 1901, Papec began production of a model of silo filler based on the Canadian patent, but with substantial improvements. This model went through other improvements over time and eventually became the Model C silo filler. However, in 1904, the venerable Model C was phased out of production and replaced with the Model D. The Model D would remain in production until 1917.
Both the Model C and Model D silo fillers were very popular with farmers. A 1931 Papec advertisement proudly stated that there was still an active market for knives for the Model C more than 27 years after production had ceased. A 1944 Papec advertisement made similar statements about the Model D which had been out of production for 27 years.
The Papec Company lost money regularly every year from the time of its founding through 1909. The shareholders blamed Billy Hamlin for the continual losses and deposed him as president of the company in 1909. At this stage, three remarkable men were enlisted by the shareholders to get the Company on the right track. Frank Hamlin, now of Naples, New York, remembers that these three men were unique: “One was a money man” (George W. Hamlin, father of Frank Hamlim, who became the Treasurer); “one was a good manager” (Ward H. Preston, who would serve as President until 1953); “and the third was an ingenious mechanic” (Fred Bullock, who became the plant manager). These men were each strong individualists. (An interesting sidelight is that Fred Bullock was a perennial candidate for governor of New York on the Socialist Party ticket until he became Vice President of Papec, at which time he became a Republican!). Ward Preston, affectionately called “The Commander” by personnel at the factory, was a colorful personality. He was a person squarely aimed at getting the job done. Photographs have captured him on hand in the factory when the 20,000th Papec silo filler was completed in 1949. On another occasion, in 1931, he was photographed at the occasion of the delivery of the first Papec with a galvanized feeder to a local New York farm.
While looking the new machine over in his barnyard, the new owner was asked how he liked it. The farmer responded that he felt the end of the galvanized feeder was a little too narrow. Whereupon, to the surprise of those present, The Commander, even then an elderly man, crawled up into the feeder and jumped up into the air and came down with his feet against both sides of the ends of the feeder–spreading the end of the feeder. “How’s that?” The Commander asked. The stunned farmer managed to reply that the improvement to the machine was just fine!
These men were individualists, and by all reasonable expectations the new management should have been rent asunder by conflict between these strong personalities. However, these three men realized that for Papec Company to survive they would each have to work together. Each of the three men developed a respect for the others and refrained from interfering with those sections of the company outside their own area of expertise. The result was a harmonious relationship within the management of the Papec Company.
Papec began to make money. For the next 45 years (until 1954) Papec prospered through the sale of silo fillers and forage equipment. During this long period of growth, the company lost money for only three years–one year immediately following World War I and for two years during the depression.
It was a long period of growth for Papec. By 1909, the Papec Machine Company had outgrown their facilities in Lima, New York, and had moved to another location in Shortsville, New York. Shortsville was located about 25 miles to the east of Lima. In Shortsville, the Papec Machine Company purchased the old Empire Grain Drill Works building site located near the Canandaigua outlet which flowed through Shortsville. In the early 1800s, the Empire Grain Drill Works had depended on water from the outlet as the source of power for the site. (Of course, by 1909, the building had long since been connected to electric power.) The building site contained a 300-foot-long foundry building and was a good site for the future expansion of Papec.
As the years went by, improvements were made to Papec silo fillers. Eventually Papec offered a line of silo fillers of different sizes including the Models F, H, and O. An advertising booklet dating from about 1931 promotes the Papec Model R and Models 81, 127 and 158. The model numbers of the last three silo fillers correspond to the area of the opening of the throat in square inches: e.g., the Model 81 had a throat size of 6-3/8″ x 12-3/4″, for a total of 81 square inches; the Model 127 had a throat size of 8-1/2″ x 15″, for a total of 127 square inches; and the Model 158 had a throat size of 8-1/2″ x 18″, for a total of 158 square inches. The Model R had a throat size of 6-1/8″ x 10-1/8″ throat, for a total of 62-plus square inches.
The Company also made Model N, L and K hay choppers which were identical to the Models 81, 127 and 158 silo fillers, respectively, except the hay choppers were reinforced with heavier construction at certain points to allow for the difficult task of handling dry crops. Additionally, Papec expanded into the manufacture of the Model 8 and Model 10 Feed Cutters and 13-inch and 16-inch hammermills. By 1944, the large Model 158 silo filler had been discontinued, and the Model 127 became the largest silo filler built by Papec.
The whole Papec product line was painted with a complicated color scheme, including red, black, and two shades of green, with yellow stenciling or decals. Originally, the sides of the feeding table of the Papec silo fillers were wooden. Papec painted these red.
Meanwhile, other improvements were introduced into the line of silo fillers. In about 1928, Papec discontinued the use of cast iron belt pulleys and contracted with the Rockwood Pulley Company of New York City to supply all the belt pulleys for Papec silo fillers. Therefore, about from 1928 on, the Rockwood fiber pulley was used exclusively on all Papec silo fillers. In 1931, Papec introduced a new style of feeding table for their silo fillers and hay choppers. This new feeding table had galvanized sides so that only the floor of the feeding table remained wooden. The galvanized feeding table was made standard equipment on the Models 81, 127 and 158 silo fillers. Only the Model R continued to have a wooden feeding table. By 1944, however, Model R had been converted from the wooden feeder to the galvanized feeder to match the rest of the Papec line of silo fillers.
Although New York was the fourth largest dairy producing state in the nation, the first three dairy states (Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan) were located a considerable distance from Shortsville. Because forage equipment was used predominately by dairy farmers, Papec needed to find some way of marketing their product to their richest target: dairy farmers in the upper midwest and Canada. In Canada, Papec arranged for the Cockshutt Plow Company Limited to serve as wholesaler and distributor for the Canadian provinces. Cockshutt had wholesale warehouses at Truro, Nova Scotia; Moncton, New Brunswick; Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island; Montreal, Quebec; Smiths Falls and Brantford, Ontario; Saskatoon, Saskatchewan; and Edmonton, Alberta. Additionally, Cockshutt had a string of dealerships which were served by these wholesale facilities. By this single agreement, Papec was positioned to reach nearly every dairy farmer in Canada with sales and service. The export market was served by Papec facilities at 1 Park Avenue in New York City. In the United States, Papec established its own Papec wholesale outlets in Indianapolis, Indiana, and Kansas City, Kansas. As to the remainder of the United States, however, Papec depended on individual wholesaling contracts. Washington, Oregon, California, and Idaho were served by a contract with John Deere Plow Company, whereby Papec would be marketed through the John Deere dealerships in those states. The John Deere Company and Deere family brother-in-law C.C. Webber, had formed the wholesaling firm of Deere and Webber Company located at 800-828 Washington Avenue North in Minneapolis, which served as the wholesaler for John Deere equipment in Minnesota. As a result of Papec’s contract with Deere and Webber, Papec equipment was offered for sale at every John Deere dealership in the state of Minnesota. In Pennsylvania, Papec contracted with Landis Brothers at the corner of North Queen Street and Walnut Street in Lancaster to serve as wholesaler of Papec equipment for the whole state of Pennsylvania. Brown County Warehouse Company, located at 501 Liberty Street in Green Bay, served the important state of Wisconsin. Michigan was served by Western Michigan Storage Company, located at 128-138 Coldbrook Street Northeast in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
In the rest of the nation, Papec sought to make individual contractual arrangements with dealerships. John Deere dealerships frequently offered the best opportunity as a potential outlet for Papec equipment, because the John Deere line of farm equipment did not include a stationary silo filler. (Don Mcmillan and Russell Jones, John Deere Tractors and Equipment, Vol. I [New York, N.Y.: American Society of Engineers Press: 1988], p. 272). As noted in John Deere Tractors and Equipment, the John Deere Company did not get into the manufacture of forage equipment until 1936 with the introduction of their first model of ensilage field harvester. Consequently, until they began manufacturing their own field harvester, John Deere dealerships were inclined to contract with Papec to supplement the line of John Deere equipment offered by their dealerships.
Once the distribution network had been arranged, Papec needed to insure sufficient transportation to get their products to the wholesaling agents across the nation. According to Tim Record, historian of the Shortsville/Manchester area of New York State, Shortsville was excellently served by the New York Central Railroad and the small LeHigh Valley Railroad. However, Papec most often used the Vanderbilt-owned New York Central lines to get their machines to their intended markets.
As farming operations modernized after World War II and filling silo changed from the use of silo fillers to the use of field harvesters, Papec gradually phased out production of the stationary silo filler in favor of production of field forage harvesters. The ease of handling corn chopped in the field and bringing it to the silo by forage wagon was doing away with the technology of binding corn, just as surely as grain combines had done away with the process binding small grains and feeding the bundles into a thresher.
The Papec Corporation recognized the direction in which the market for farm forage equipment was headed and started manufacturing forage wagons in 1946. They also began manufacturing their own Papec field harvester. However, even with Papec’s extension into the area of field forage harvesters, the company was still in a period of decline. The whole farm machinery market was dwindling. Furthermore, whereas John Deere had wanted to co-operate with Papec in selling stationary silo fillers, John Deere had long been working on their own design for a field forage harvester and no longer had any interest in working with Papec for the sale of either the stationary silo filler or the Papec field forage harvester.
The year of 1949 proved to be the high water mark for earnings and profits for the Papec Corporation. After 1954, sales and profits continued to sag throughout the remainder of the 1950s and 1960s. The Company was headed into a long period of decline. At its peak in 1950, Papec employed 300 people. Among the long-term employees at Papec were Glen Brackett and Harold Lyon, who were both employed in the engineering department. In the 1920s and early 1930s, Ken VanSickle worked as a draftsman, Carl Dudley served as plant superintendent, and Harry Sheet also worked at Papec. In later years, Wayne Holtz and Randy Woodhams served as superintendent and John Kolberg served in the paint department. Paul Bailey and Paul Sleight also worked at the Shortsville, New York, plant of the Papec Company.
In 1953, “The Commander”–Ward Preston–announced his retirement effective as of November 1. He also announced that Frank Hamlin would be taking over the operation of the Company. Frank Hamlin, who despite being the son of one of the founders of the company, had started with the Company as a laborer in the sheet metal department. Over the years he had been groomed by “The Commander” to take over the Company. Now, at 47 years of age, after 25 years of employment in various positions in the Company–and, incidentally, the largest shareholder of stock in Papec–Frank Hamlin became the President of the Company.
After financial losses in 1968, 1969, and 1970, Papec was sold in 1972 to the Lansdowne Steel and Iron Company of Morton, Pennsylvania. Papec went through a corporate down-sizing under the management of Landsdowne Steel. However, this did not save Papec from continual decline, and in November of 1979, all manufacturing ceased. In February of 1981, Landsdowne closed down all the facilities in Shortsville. After attempting to make a profit selling replacement parts, Papec closed down all operations in April of 1981. While lying vacant, the historic old building at the Shortsville site–which had originally been the home of Empire Drill Works–was destroyed by fire.
Fortunately for restorers of Papec implements, in 1981 the entire parts inventory owned by Papec was purchased by the Randy Hale family of Shelbyville, Tennessee, who then formed J.H. & R. Enterprises. J.H. & R. Enterprises, located at 1049 Madison Street, Shelbyville, Tennessee 37160-3621, Telephone: (615) 684-9737, offers parts books for sale on the old stationary silo fillers, and by use of these books, Papec parts can still be ordered for stationary silo fillers, or any of the other Papec machines, by the original Papec part numbers. For the restorer of Papec farm equipment, this source for replacement parts is invaluable. However, there is one shortcoming. In the late 1950s, Papec changed its Company colors from the complicated two shades of green, red, and black with yellow lettering, to the simpler yellow with black lettering. From this point on, even the replacement parts for the older Papec equipment were painted yellow or black. Therefore, the parts in the inventory of J.H. & R. provide no clue as to the shade of green paint used on the old Papec stationary silo fillers because all of these replacement parts are painted yellow or black, reflecting the Company’s newer colors. There seems to be no Company records which would help the restorer of Papec machines discover the right shade of paints. The only clue as to the correct paint shade seems to be a 1987 restoration of a Model 127 silo filler performed by several former Papec employees in Shortsville, New York.
In 1987, Shortsville celebrated its Centennial. In celebration of Papec, the town’s dominant employer until the 1970s, some of the former employees of Papec and other interested townspeople restored a Papec Model 127 silo filler. Involved in the restoration were the Mayor of Shortsville Francis (Cap) Walker, his wife Ann Walker, who served as village historian, former Papec employees Paul Bailey, Paul Sleight, Harold Lyons, Wayne Holtz, Randy Woodhams and John Koberg, as well as Jim Tobey, Bill Fox and John Liberty.
The silo filler selected by the Shortsville group had a small Rockwood pulley. The silo filler was in very good shape and did not need much repair. It did, however, need to be repainted and re-stenciled. Working from memory, the former Papec employees used a regular gloss or semi-gloss black for the wheels. Farmall Red (IHC #2150, PPG-Ditzler #71310 or Martin-Senour #99-4115) was used for the cast iron feed roller housing and the frame and shafts supporting the knife sharpening wheel. A regular silver paint was used on the galvanized portion of the feeder. As for the two shades of green, Cap Walker, who works at the local hardware store, spent one evening with the former Papec employees in the project at the hardware store mixing batches of the store’s collection of Benjamin Moore paints to get the most accurate shades of green. Resulting from that evening session was the conclusion that the lime green color used on the axles and frame is Benjamin Moore Impervo Enamel #420. Working from a color photo of the restored Model 127, the author found that this shade of lime green is most closely represented by Martin-Senour #274A (Signal Green). The dark olive green is Benjamin Moore, Morse House Paint #110-43, (Essex Green). The author found this color to most closely match Martin-Senour #281A. Cross-indexing of paints to Martin-Senour paint numbers means that these shades of paint will be readily available to restorers across the nation at their local NAPA auto parts stores.
The 1987 restoration of the Model 127 Papec in Shortsville, New York, may be the final word we ever have on the exact shades of paint used on early Papec equipment. Since 1987, all of the former employees of Papec involved in the restoration project have died. Furthermore, as time goes by, the restored Papec in Shortsville will become even more important. Not only will it serve as a research tool for restorers, but it will stand as a permanent monument to all those men and women who labored in the design, manufacture and sale of the Papec line of equipment.
History of the Algoma Foundary and Machine Company of Algoma, Wisconsin
Brian Wayne Wells
As published in the March/April 1995 issue of
Belt Pulley Magazine
The ensilage process of chopping green corn or hay and storing it in a silo was first developed by August Goffart, a French experimenter, in 1877. (Robert C. Nesbit, Wisconsin: A History [University of Wisconsin Press; Madison, Wisconsin, 1973], p. 291.) In 1880, Dr. H.S. Weeks, of Ononomowoc, Wisconsin, also conducted experiments with ensilage stored in silos. The success of Dr. Weeks’ experiments led some pioneering farmers to construct silos for storage of this new type of cattle feed. Later experiments found that three cows could be fed for seven months on one acre of silage crops while it would take two acres of hay to feed just one cow for the same seven months.
At first, there was a major resistance to this new method of chopping and storing ensilage based on the belief that the fodder would eat away at the stomachs of cows or cause them to lose their teeth. As of 1904, there were only 716 silos in the entire state of Wisconsin. However, in the early 1900s, William Dempster Hoard, editor of Hoard’s Dairyman, began promoting silage for dairy herds in his magazine. Thus, following the First World War, silos started to spring up across the nation as farmers began to see the advantages of silage.
Most commonly, silage was cut into pieces about an inch in length. Machines were developed to facilitate this procedure, and the ensilage cutter–or stationary forage harvester–was born, with the dairy state of Wisconsin becoming the center for manufacturing and sales of silage equipment. One of the companies that realized the potential market for ensilage cutters in Wisconsin was the Algoma Foundry and Machine Company of Algoma, Wisconsin.
Algoma is a small city of 3,600 people located on the shore of Lake Michigan at the base of Door Peninsula. The entity that was to become the Algoma Company was first established there in 1883 as A. Hamacek and Company by Adolf and Anton Hamacek. A. Hamacek and Company made horse-drawn farm machinery and operated an electric light plant for those Algoma residents who had electric lighting in their homes and businesses. On August 28, 1891, Adolph Hamacek left the partnership and moved to Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. Anton, however, continued to operate the business alone until the spring of 1893 when he formed another partnership with Joseph Wodsedalek and August Ziemer from Kewaunee, Wisconsin. On August 6, 1895, a fire totally destroyed the business’s two-story building located in the 600 block of Fremont Street in Algoma. Following the fire, the partnership purchased a new property, just east of the new Fourth Street Bridge in Algoma, owned by John Ihlenfeld. This was an excellent location which was served by a spur of the Green Bay and Western Railroad. The partnership then moved their operations to the single-story building located on that property.
During World War I, one of the partnership’s employees, Joseph Sticka, a machinist, conceived of his own design for a stationary forage harvester and left the employ of the partnership to establish his own business. However, the business he established was not sufficiently capitalized and he soon sought the backing of his old employer. Thus, in 1920, the partnership began mass producing the forage harvester developed by Joseph Sticka.
In March of 1920, the partnership was transformed into a company and incorporated as the Algoma Foundry and Machine Company. Joseph Wodsedalek became president and Joseph F. Sticka became a director. E.W. Anderogg, general manager of the Algoma Net Company, also became a director. While continuing his work at the Net Company, Mr Anderogg sat on the board of the Algoma Foundry and Machine Company as representative of the interests of his boss, M.W. Perry, president of the Algoma Net Company. M.W. Perry, although a minority shareholder, had loaned the Algoma Foundry and Machine Company a great deal of money. Therefore, M.L. Perry had much influence over the company.
Shortly after they became incorporated, the Algoma Company introduced a new line of modern farm equipment bearing the trade name OK. This line included forage harvesters–or ensilage cutters–forage blowers, feed grinders and hammermills. This expansion, however, was ill-timed.
Although it is commonly accepted that the Great Depression began with the stock market crash in 1929 following a period of prosperity throughout the 1920s, the facts are that in the rural areas of the nation the depression actually began in 1921 with the fall in the price of farm products following the end of World War I. Farmers were feeling the effects of the depression as early as 1921. This meant that there was little demand for new farm machinery from that time until the nation began to recover in the 1930s. As a result, the Algoma Foundry and Machine Company suffered deficits for the first nine years of its existence.
A financial statement, dated Feb. 1, 1929, noted that the corporation had a $38,807.20 deficit in its annual budget at that time. The board required action and the corporation underwent a financial reorganization whereby the persons who had loaned the company money were made preferred stockholders in the corporation. Suddenly, all the creditors of the company became the owners of the company. In short, this meant that M.W. Perry became the majority shareholder of the company with 51% of the shares. He also bought out all of the remaining inrterests of the Joseph Wodsedalek family.
On March 2, 1929, a new management team was installed. M.W. Perry became the new president and E.W. Anderogg became the new general manager of the Algoma Foundry and Machine Company. Following the reorganization, the compamy underwent a corporate down-sizing and under the new leadership managed to finish the year in good order and even showed a profit. Consequently, in 1929, the corporation made its first profit in the face of the financial dislocations which occurred on Wall Street in October of 1929 and continued profitably for the next three years.
In the Spring of 1932, E.W. Anderogg was made treasurer. The Company then began to cast about to find the right person to fill the position of general manager and were fortunate in obtaining the services of E.J. Albro for this position. He had served as manager of the farm equipment division of the Montgomery Ward Company for 15 years, from 1917 to 1932. In his position at Montgomery Ward, E.J. Albro had supervised the purchasing of thousands of dollars of fly nets from the Algoma Net Company. Now he used his influence to arrange for Montgomery Ward to purchase all of their hammermills from the Algoma Foundry and Machine Company. Montgomery Ward would sell these farm implements under their own name and eventually would become the Algoma Foundry and Machine Company’s largest single customer, absorbing 35% of all of the farm equipment they produced.
The silo fillers produced by the Algoma Foundry and Machine Company continued to follow the original design conceived by Joseph F. Sticka; however, with some small improvements made to the original design. Two sizes of silo fillers were offered, e.g., a 13″ throat model and a 15″ throat model. These two models came out of the factory, along with the hammermills and all of the other farm equipment offered by the Algoma Foundry and Machine Company, cloaked in the green paint that in the early years symbolized the OK line of farm machinery. A bright yellow “OK” insignia would appear on both sides of the hinged casing covering the knife wheel. Another insignia declaring “Mfd. by Algoma Foundry and Machine Company, Algoma, Wisconsin” was stenciled on both sides of the transport frame underneath the feeding table. Although no paint numbers now exist which could allow a restorer to recreate the exact shade of this green paint, according to John Beitling, long-term employee of the paint department, the shade was very close to the green color which was habitually used on 1948-1950 Chevrolet pickups.
When Montgomery Ward began placing large orders for hammermills and other equipment, the purchasing contract required that such equipment be painted Montgomery Ward red and that the equipment bear no insignias. Marvin Zirbel, another former employee of the Algoma Company, remembers that to save cost the Company made the decision to change the color of its entire line of OK equipment to Montgomery Ward red, Martin-Senour 99L-1637. (Later, in 1964, when Massey-Ferguson bought the corporate entity which included the Algoma Company, Massey-Ferguson personnel found that the red paint used by the Algoma Company was indistinguishable from their own Massey-Ferguson red.) The bright yellow insignias and lettering, however, would still appear in the same locations on the silo fillers and on all of those machines which were not sold to Montgomery Ward but were offered to the public through jobbers and wholesalers under the Company’s own name.
In 1943, one of these OK silo fillers rolled out of the plant cloaked in its red paint job and insignias. It was one of the smaller models with a 13″ throat. It traveled by railroad flatbed out of Algoma, across Wisconsin and into Minnesota, where it was sold to its first owner. After only one season, the silo filler was resold in 1944 to Roy Johnson (a beef farmer), Harold Nelsen and Harris Quist (who milked Holstein herds on their farms), and Leonard Johnson (who milked Jersey cows). They bought the silo filler together, along with a McCormick-Deering corn binder which had a wagon loading attachment. (A two-row version of this binder with the wagon loading attachment can be seen in the 1934 International Harvester movie, Farming the Farmall Way.) The four Lindstrom-area farmers used the silo filler to fill their own silos on all four farms and for some custom work in their neighborhood as well. Harold Nelsen remembers that the OK silo filler was a “light runner”–a smooth and easy operating machine–powered most often by a Farmall H. Each summer the silo filler was towed from farm to farm in the Lindstrom neighborhood by the Farmall H and performed admirably.
Following World War II, a flood of new and more efficient farm machinery came onto the market. In 1944, International Harvester had introduced the No. 55-T baler, their first successful cotton stripper, and the new No. 2 field forage harvester. All of these machines were advertised as “one-man harvesting machines.” (See the 1944 IH movies called “One-Man Harvesting” and “One-Man Cotton Harvesting.”)
Like other farmers across the nation, these four farmers saw the advantages of single-stage processing of ensilage in the field, rather than carrying bundles of corn to the silo for processing. Thus, in about 1949, Roy Johnson bought one of the new McCormick-Deering field choppers. The other three farmers then hired him to fill the silos on their farms and the OK silo filler was sold to Maynard Mohn of Center City, Minnesota. After a few years, the Mohn family also upgraded their silo filling operations; however, the OK silo filler remained stored under cover on the Mohn farm until it was put up for sale several years later at an auction.
John Bjonstad, grandnephew of Maynard Mohn, having observed the OK silo filler several times on the Mohn farm, expressed an interest in seeing the silo filler saved from the cutting torch. At the auction, therefore, John’s grandfather, Paul Holm, of Almelund, Minnesota, purchased the silo filler for his grandson. John and his grandfather then transported the silo filler to the site of the LeSueur Pioneer Power Show near LeCenter, Minnesota. There, in 1990, the silo filler was set up and operated by John and his grandfather as an exhibit at the Show.
Following that Show, the silo filler was wintered at the Pioneer Power site; however, due to the shortage of storage buildings, the OK silo filler was stored outside for one of the first winters since it had been manufactured. Unfortunately, it has not been operated as an exhibit in any of the Shows since 1990.
In August of 1994, the OK silo filler was found by the author and his brother, Mark Wells, of Billerica, Massachusetts, in about the same location where it had been stored following the 1990 Show. Even in 1994, after four years of sitting outside in the elements, the knives and shear bar seemed to be in very good condition. The pressed-paper pulley showed evidence of having recently been treated with fuel oil. It appeared, however, that the growing layer of rust threatened to obliterate the “OK” decal hinged blower cover and the “Algoma Foundry and Machine Co.” stencilling on the frame under the feeding table. It was at this point that the author and his brother began to think about restoration of the OK silo filler. Research into the proper paint scheme, the correct shade of paint, and remaking of the proper decals is currently being conducted and plans are being made for a 1995 restoration.
The Algoma Foundry and Machine Company continued to function independently until September 14, 1962, when they were sold to Badger Northland Company, Inc. The Algoma Company became a division of the Badger Company, with Karl Kuehn of Kaukauna, Wisconsin, serving as head of the Algoma farm equipment division. Badger was manufacturing a short line of farm equipment, which included silo unloaders and barn cleaners, when they bought out the Algoma Company. They hoped, through the acquisition of the Algoma Company, to broaden their line of Badger products to include forage equipment, particularly their field chopper.
In 1964, Badger Northland was in turn acquired by the Massey-Ferguson Company. By this time, however, no silo fillers or forage equipment were being made at the Algoma site. It was a sign of the times that only garden tractors (the Massey-Ferguson model 10) and snowmobiles were being made in the old foundry building. In the summer of 1970, operations at the Algoma plant were entirely discontinued by Massey-Ferguson.
Before the merger with Massey-Ferguson in 1964, the president of Badger Northland was Wisconsin native Vincent Rolf. He had been one of the founders of the Badger Farm Equipment Company in Kaukauna, Wisconsin, in 1949. In 1965, he along with almost all of the original founders of Badger formed a new company called Calumet Corporation of Kaukauna, Wisconsin. Calumet manufactured liquid pumps, liquid manure spreaders, and a line of trailers for transporting boats, snowmobiles, and garden tractors at its plant in Dundas, Wisconsin. Upon learning that the old foundry building in Algoma was available, Calumet moved its manufacturing operations from Dundas to the foundry building in December of 1970, operating there until 1973.
Over the years, many people of the Algoma area were employed at the foundry: Lester Zimmerman was a machinist at the foundry; George Bietling, Marvin Zirbel amd Doug Silmer worked there at different times; as noted previously, John Beitling worked for many years in the paint department; and Emil Bostick, now of Luxembourg, Wisconsin, worked in the stenciling department.
It is a different world now than when the foundry was first opened in 1895, reflecting the changes in farming methods which have occurred in the interim and reflecting the transition of the United States from an agricultural nation into an industrial nation. Restoration of old farm machinery is one way in which the agricultural history of the nation can be preserved for future generations. It is hoped that restoration of the 1943 OK silo filler will compose one more chapter of that history, a chapter which will recognize not only the farmers that used the silo filler but also the men and women who made the silo filler.
Belt Pulley Magazine Articles by Brian Wayne Wells