Category Archives: International Harvester Company

Articles which mention International Harvester farm equipment or Farmall tractors.

The 1955 Model 300 Tractor Bearing the Serial No. and the Accompanying Model 33A Tractor-Mounted Loader.

The 1955 Farmall Model 300 TractorBearing the Serial No.         and the  300 the Accompanying Model 33A Tractor-Mounted Loader.  

by

Brian Wayne Wells

           This article remains under construction.  Periodically, new blocks of text will appear in the article and/or  current blocks of text will be corrected. 

    The International HarvesterCompany of Chicago, Illinois replaced the Farmall Super H in their line of farm tractors with the Farmall Model 300 tractor at the start of the model year 1955.

The 1955 Farmall Model 300 was first purchased by a farm family from Carver County.  Tne tractor was later Fitted with a mounted McCormick-Deering Company Model 33A tractor loader.  This loader was first introduced by  McCormick-Deering  in the autumn of 1958.

The tractor was later purchased in about 2000 by David Falk of Waconia, Minnesota.   ,

Charles Cook International Harvester Dealership in Cleveland Minnesota

Charles Cook International  Harvester Dealership of Cleveland, Minnesota

by

Brian Wayne Wells

           This article remains under construction.  Periodically, new blocks of text will appear in the article and/or  current blocks of text will be corrected. 

     For a large part of the long production reign of the famous Farmall M from 1939 until 1952, the Model M had been over shadowed by the larger sales of the smaller  Farmall Model H.  Both of these tractors had been introduced in 1939.  Their production lines had been parallel to each other in the Farmall Works in Rock Island, Illinois.  However, each year, The Model H outsold the Model M until just after the Second World War.

Part of the reason for this rise in the popularity of the Farmall M was the influence of the returning veterans from the Second World War.  In large numbers, these veterans were returning home from the horrors of war and wanting to settle in to the peacetime activities and peacetime economy of the United States.  Since, the United States was still a rural and farming nation after the war, the thoughts of these veterans was directed towards returning to the farm and either continuing the family farm or starting a new farming operation.  One of these returning veterans was Ambrose Holicky.

Following the end of the Korean War, a slight boom in the sales of farm machinery occurred.  This boom as it applies to the sales of the new Farmall Super M tractors is discussed in the article called ” M. & W. Company (Part II): The Clark-Christenson Super M” that was published in the January/February 1998 issue of Belt Pulley Magazine.  This article has also been re-published on this website under the same title.  The Clark-Christenson Super M bears the Serial Number of 31634 and is currently owned by Wells Family Tractors L.LC. and has been pretty much adopted by the sister of the current author–Eileen Wells, who also serves as the Secretary of the LeSueur County Pioneer Power Association.

The article on the Clark-Christenson tractor contained at this website provides the story of the original sale of #31634 by Srsen Implement of Blooming Prairie, Minnesota to George Clark a local farmer in the Claremont, Minnesota community and the later sale of the same tractor to Ray Christenson in 1967.

A total of 39,401 Farmall Super M tractors were produced in 1953.  No. 31634 was most likely produced on Friday June 26, 1953.  As developed in the article on the Clark-Christenson tractor, unusual events surrounding the shortage of Super Ms at various dealerships and surpluses at other dealerships meant that the Clark-Christenson tractor bearing the Serial Number 31634 did not get into the hands of George Clark until 1954.

Three production days after Friday, June 26,  another Farmall Super M came rolled off the assembly line at the Farmall
Works in Rock Island.  This Super M bore the Serial Number 32096.  This tractor was only 462 tractors removed from #31634.  Like #31634, this tractor was also shipped from Rock Island to the International Harvester block house at  25727 University Avenue in  St. Paul, Minnesota.  Pursuant to the request of the local dealership in Cleveland, Minnesota, for a tractor to fulfill an order, #32096 was placed on board a

The 1946 Famall H: Lucky Number 7 of the Fleet of Tractors used by the Campbell Soup Company in Napoleon, Ohio

The 1946 Farmall Model H: Lucky No. 7 of the Fleet of Tractors   Used by the Campbell Soup Company of Napoleon, Ohio

by

Brian Wayne Wells

           This article remains under construction.  Periodically, new blocks of text will appear in the article and/or current blocks of text will be corrected.

 

In a previous article contained at this website, called “The Wayne A and Marilyn Wells 1950 Farmall,” it was mentioned that early Wayne Alwin Wells traded a 1942 Farmall Model H in to the Sease and Oksanen International Harvester dealership located in Le Roy, Minnesota, as a part of the purchase of this Farmall M.  This Model H tractor had originally been purchased as a new tractor by Wayne’s father, George Cleveland Wells.  The purchase and history of this Farmall H from 1942 until 1950 is related in another article contained at this website called “Wartime Farmall H’s.”  Additionally, the use of this 1942 Farmall H in pulling and powering the Woods Brothers one-row corn picker as a custom picking operation during the 1946 ripe corn harvest is described in a third article at this website which is called “Wood Brothers Company(Part II).”

Bros.
This picture might as well have been a picture of Wayne A. Wells in the autumn of 1946 picking corn in his neighborhood with a Wood Bros. one-row corn picker and a 1942 Farmall Model H tractor. The only difference is that the Anderson/Wells Wood Bros. corn picker was painted gray rather than “Ford red” as in this picture.

 

Clearly, the 1942 Wells Family Farmall Model H was a subject of interest to the family, especially, the current author and his brother, Mark Wells.  However, the serial number and the history of this 1942 tractor following 1950 were lost and remain unknown.  Additionally, no picture of the 1942 tractor was thought to exist, until one recent Christmas at which Mark Wells saw a series of slides at the home of his uncle, Fred Hanks.  Contained in the slides was a very good color picture of the Wells Family Farmall H taken during the soybean harvest on the Howard and Fred Hanks farm in the autumn of 1947.  This was the first picture he had ever seen of the George Wells Farmall H.  The picture created a great expectation that a “representative” tractor could be obtained that could be made to appear like the tractor in the slide picture

 

 

 

no serial  rticle As noted in an earIier article called “Wartime Farmall H’s” In early 1950, Wayne Alwin Wells traded the 1942 Farmall Model had been owned his father George Cleveland Wells in to the Sease and Oksanen International Harvester dealership located in

 

Hemp farming in Humbolt County, Iowa during the Second World War with a 1941 Farmall Model B

Hemp Farming in Humboldt County, Iowa, with a 1941 Farmall Model B Tractor   

by

Brian Wayne Wells

           This article remains under construction.  Periodically, new blocks of text will appear in the article and/or   current blocks of text will be corrected.

The Hemp plant located in Humboldt County, Iowa.

 

Hemp plants have been raised in the United States almost since the founding of the republic.  During the Revolutionary War, farmers in the young republic were allowed to use hemp they had raised on their farms to pay their taxes.   The new colonial government was struggling to build its own navy for protection and its own merchant marine for trading with foreign  countries.  Hemp was required for the massive amount of ropes that were needed for each every ship and also to weave the  required George Washington raised hemp and encouraged his neighbors in Virginia to do the same.  Thomas Jefferson developed improved strains of hemp seed.

The main marketable product of the hemp plant has been the long tough strands located in the stem of the plant.  When correctly processed the strands could be formed into ropes of all sizes.

Historically, ropes were not only the used by for the rigging and ropes of the sailing ships of the merchant marine or the navies of the nations of the world, but hemp was also used for the manufacture of the sail sheets themselves.  Accordingly, within the United States the largest buyer in the rope market has, traditionally,  been the United States government which supplies the ropes to the United States Navy.

Government purchasing of ropes, of course, had a big effect on the  price of hemp.  Accordingly, in times of international tensions when the United States government begins a program of naval preparedness, the demand for hemp rises and as a result the price of hemp also rises.  So it was in the United States, during the military preparedness build up, following the sinking of the Lusitania on May 7, 1915 by a German submarine with the loss of 1,198 passengers, led directly to higher prices for rope made from hemp and directly to higher prices for hemp raised on the farms of the United States.  The shock  in the United States from the sinking of the Lusitania was spurred by the fact that 128 Americans had been among the dead resulting from the German torpedoing of the Lusitania.  To be sure, even during the period of time immediately following the sinking of the Lusitania,  public opinion in the United States was still heavily opposed to involvement in the “European War.”  However, with the announcement by the German Imperial government of a return to “unrestricted submarine warfare” on February 1, 1917, public opinion in the United States swung radially around in favor of war against Germany.  Immediately, there was a spike in the price of hemp.  The United States entered the war in Europe on April 2. 1917.

The high prices for hemp continued throughout United States involvement in the First World War.

When the war ended in November 11, 1918, hemp prices fell.

However, in the decade of the 1920s hemp became known for its other uses.    During the decade of the 1920s, use of marijuana or hemp asa a recreational drug became widespread.

There was a political reaction to this widespread use of marijuana as a recreational drug in the 1930s.  In the mid-1930s, movies were used to propagandize against the use of marijuana as a recreational drug.  One such film was a 1936 film called Reefer Madness.   The propaganda was an attempt to outlaw the cultivation of marijuana or hemp to prevent its use as a drug.  However, economic forces prevented this from happening.  Although, naval forces and the merchant marine no longer used sailing ships, ropes made from hemp were still a large part of modern shipping.

 

 

the Rope was still   e

One such time of international tensions was during the late 1930s.  At that time the United States government was not only worried about the source of hemp raising keeping up with the demand for ropes, the government also worried about whether the small number of “hemp mills” (or hemp processing plants) across the United States would be able to process enough hemp to keep up with the demand for ropes.

One such small hemp mill was located in Humboldt County, Iowa.   This small mill is located in

A map of the State of Iowa showing the location of Humboldt County in the 99 counties of the state.

 

The rising prices of hemp in the late 1930s caused a number of farmers across the nation to begin raising hemp.  They sought to make money on a new cash crop that showed the promise ofhigh prices for the immediate future.  One such farmer was our Norway Township farmer who operated a 200 acre farm near the small village of Thor, Iowa (1930 population 257),  in Norway Township in Humboldt County, Iowa.   Although, the population of Thor had fallen during the decade of the 1920s–from 284 persons in 1920 to 257 persons in 1930.  The small village bounced back in the decade of the 1930s to a populations of 267 in the 1940 census.  This

A Township map of Humboldt County showing the location of Norway Township in the lower right-hand corner of this map and showing the location of the village of Thor as a shaded spot in the middle of Norway Township.

 

to seek a to made from   tradtiovies of the various nationaropes made from hemp have been used by the nally been the largest buyer in the rope market.  Thus,

The Wayne A. and Marilyn Wells 1950 Farmall M

The Wayne A. and Marilyn Wells 1950  Farmall Model M

by

Brian Wayne Wells

           This article remains under construction.  Periodically, new blocks of text will appear in the article and/or   current blocks of text will be corrected.

            The International Harvester Company introduced the Farmall Model M as a full-three plow tractor in the autumn of 1939.

In early 1950, Wayne Alwin Wells traded the 1942 Farmall Model had been owned his father George Cleveland Wells, in to the Seese and Oksenan dealership in LeRoy, Minnesota, on the purchase of a Farmall Model M.  The Seese and Oksenan dealership was operating under new management  Prior to 1944, the International Harvester dealership in LeRoy had been owned by Elmer McRoberts.  However, in 1944, Elmer McRoberts had retired and sold the business to the partnership of Kennth Seese and Leonard Oksenan.  Kenneth Seese had previously been living in

Pursuant to the purchase contract of this tractor, the Farmall M bearing the Serial No. 2518137 was delivered to the Wayne Wells farm in eastern LeRoy Township, Mower County, Minnesota on March 1, 1950.  Wayne needed to grind up some feed for the baby pigs which had  just been weaned.  So he immediately belted the new tractor up to the Case hammer mill which was bolted to the floor of the granary on the farm.

A pre-war version of the Case feed grinder. The particular grinder owned by Wayne A. Wells had been bought by his father George Wells some time during the war years. Consequently, the Wells feed grinder had no galvanized feeder or whirlwind  dust collector.  On the Wells feed grinder both the feeder and the whirlwind dust collector were made of simple sheet metal and painted Case Flambeau Red.

 

He then went to the house and got his wife, Marilyn (Hanks) Wells and their one-year old son Brian Wayne Wells (the current author of this article).  He also picked up the little Kodak Brownie camera.  He then took a new picture of his son on the operator’s seat of the new tractor with his wife Marilyn holding young Brian securely in the seat.

Just after the Farmall Model M bearing the Serial No. 218137 was delivered to the Wayne A. Wells farm. the new tractor was put to work grinding pig feed for the newly weaned baby pigs.

 

The Wells family held an auction of all their farm equipment in preparation to moving from the farm in 1964.  At the auction Serial No. 218137 was purchased by Dean Shirbourne.

 

In the years since 1964, Dean Shirbourne continued farming.  Most of the machinery Dean used on his farm was International Harvester farm equipment.  He had other more modern Farmall tractors than the 1950 Farmall M he had purchased at the Wayne Wells farm auction.  Accordingly, he placed the 1950 Farmall M bearing the serial number 2518137 under an International Harvester two-row mounted Model 2MH corn picker.  This picker remained on the 1950 Farmall M until Dean retired from farming in 1993.  Every fall the tractor and mounted corn picker was used to “open” the corn fields on the Shirbourne farm and a couple of Dean’s neighbors.  (John Grass Jr., one particular neighbor of Dean Shirbourne remembers using the 1950 Farmall M on his farm.)

Once the mounted picker on No. 218137 had picked the corn in the “end rows” across both ends of the corn field and once the body of the corn field had been “opened” and divided into “lands,”  Dean Shirbourne brought in his two-row New Idea Model 6A pull-type corn picker to pick the remainder of the corn in his fields.  Recognizing that mounted pickers are not the best pickers for “husking” (removing the husks from the ears of ripe corn), Dean Shirbourne  and his neighbors preferred to use pull-type corn pickers to do the main job of picking their corn fields.  Pull-type corn pickers were respected for their large and very efficient husking beds.  Pull-type pickers had the best chance of getting the harvested corn down to a level of 4% or less “foreign material” (husks) in the ear corn crop.

Husking the corn down to a level of 4% foreign material (husks) was the ideal that farmers strove for in order to store the ear corn in normal corn crib over the winter.  Only a level of 4% or less foreign material in the ear corn would allow the cold dry air of winter to flow relatively unobstructed through the ear corn stored in the corn crib and dry the annual crop of corn sufficiently over the winter from the period of time from the harvest in October or November until February or March, when the ear corn would normally be dry enough to be shelled  and stored in a granary.  To store the ear corn in a corn crib at a level of more than 4% foreign material would invite blockage of the flow of air through the crib and invite mold forming on the ear corn.  and risk  without

Thus, once the corn fields were opened and divided into “lands,” Dean Shirbourne and his neighbors could conveniently use their pull-type pickers on the main body of the corn crop.  Thus each year, the 1950 Farmall M was used only for the short period of time each fall that it took to “open” the corn fields on the Shirbourne farm and on the farms of a few of his neighbors.  During the remainder of the year, the 1950 Farmall M bearing the Serial No. 218137 was stored away with its mounted corn picker in the machine shed on the Shirbourne farm.

Thus, from 1964 until Dean Shirbourne retired from farming in 1993, No. 218137 was used only for a couple of weeks in the autumn of  each year to open the corn fields in preparation of the harvest.  Upon his retirement from farming in the 1990s, Dean Shirbourne gave the 1950 Farmall M, bearing the Serial No. 218137, to his  nephew–Mark Mossyge–who beautifully restored the tractor.

 

 

Continue reading The Wayne A. and Marilyn Wells 1950 Farmall M

Soybean Farming in Butternut Township (Part 2 of 2parts)

Soybean Farming in Butternut Valley Township (Part 2 of 2 parts):

The 1944 Farmall Model H Tractor

by

Brian Wayne Wells

 
Fuzzy little pods of a soybean plant. Each pod is filled with three or four individual soybeans.
 

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.

Diversified farming in Butternut Valley Township, Blue Earth County, Minnesota.

 

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.

Image result for Cattle eating silage in a trough 1940s
A Holstein dairy herd being fed corn silage from a silo.

 

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.

The gray Farmall with red-colored wheels.

 

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.

Wartime advertisement of the Farmall Model H.

 

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)

Soybean Farming in Butternut Township (Part I of 2 Parts)

Soybean Farming in Butternut Valley Township (Part 1 of 2 parts)

by

Brian Wayne Wells

Like corn, soybeans were planted in 40 inch rows and when they mature, soybeans tend to cover the 40 inch space between the rows.
Like corn, soybeans were planted in 40 inch rows and when they mature, the rank growth of a mature crop of soybeans tend to cover the 40 inch space between the rows.

 

Although officially organized May of 1858, settlement in Butternut Valley Township, Blue Earth County, Minnesota, was still quite new in 1900.  As previously noted, the first settlers in Butternut Valley Township raised wheat.  (See the article called “Case Part II: Steam Engines and Threshers” in the March/April 2006 issue of Belt Pulley magazine.)  Wheat was the predominate crop in Butternut Valley Township and the neighboring townships of Cambria, Judson, Garden City and Lincoln Townships.  However, as the twentieth century progressed wheat production declined as corn replaced wheat on farms.  By 1921, more that 109,778 acres of corn were planted and harvested in the whole of Blue Earth County while wheat acreage had decreased to 43,520 acres for the county as a whole.  With the coming of the Second World War, production of corn continued dominate the agricultural landscape of Blue Earth County reaching 136,900 acres of corn harvested in 1943.  Meanwhile, wheat production in Blue Earth County fell to a miniscule 7,600 acres in 1943.

 

Butternut Valley Towhship is located on the western boundary of Blue Earth County second from the top below Cambria Township. The Honeymead plant is in South Bend Township on the border with Mankato Township.

 

During the same period of time, other changes were occurring on Blue Earth County farms that were reflected in the crops that were raised in the county.  Acreage allotted to the raising of hay in Blue Earth County fell from 59,505 acres harvested in 1921 to 41,100 acres harvested in 1943.  This reflected the fact that farmers were purchasing more farm tractors and selling off their horses.  Consequently, they no longer needed to feed the horses all year long.  Thus, the average farm could reduced the amount of hay raised each year.  As a result, the average farm in Blue Earth County had acreage that could now be devoted to some other crop.

For a time in the 1920s barley production rose to fill this gap in production acreage on the average farm in Blue Earth County.  In 1921, only 7,134 acres of Blue Earth County’s arable land was planted to barley.  However, in 1927 barley acreage shot up to 12,300 acres.  In 1928 barley acreage in the county doubled to 25,200 acres.  Eventually, the dramatic growth of acreage planted to barley in Blue Earth County reached a total of 33,800 acres in 1938.  However, barley production in Blue Earth County fell as dramatically as it had grown.  By 1943, the acreage devoted to barley in the county fell to only 5,400 acres and in the following year (1944) barley acreage fell to a mere 700 acres in the county.

Coinciding with the decline in the production of in barley was a rise in the production of flax in Blue Earth County.  In 1938 only 2,300 acres of flax had been raised in Blue Earth County.  However, in 1939 flax acreage shot up to 11,900 acres.  Blue Earth County production of flax continued to climb and in 1943, 20,300 acres in the county was planted to flax.  However, in 1944, acreage planted to flax was cut in half—down to only 9,500 acres in the county as a whole.  As suddenly as it had appeared, flax production fell to nothing.  Farmers in Blue Earth County were turning to production of something else apart from wheat, apart from barley and apart from flax.  The crop to which they turned was the lowly soy bean.

Native to the orient, where it was a staple of human consumption, the soybean was introduced in the United States in 1804.  In 1879, two agricultural stations in New Jersey started growing and working with the soybean.  Ten years later, in 1889, several more agricultural experiment stations were actively researching the soybean.  In 1896, famous botanist George Washington Carver, from Tuskegee Institute in Tuskegee, Alabama, discovered and refined over 300 by-products derived from the soybean.  The two most important marketable products of soybeans were edible oil and meal.  In 1922, the first soybean processing plant in the United States was opened.

However the soybean lacked a lucrative market for itself or any of its many by-products.  Henry Ford set out, in the 1930s, to develop a market for the soybean.  First he sought to make a bio-fuel from soybeans which would power the growing number of automobiles that were starting to populate the nation.  (Robert Lacey, Ford: The Men and the Machine [Little Brown Co. Pub.: Boston, 1986] p. 231.)  Only later, did he and his Ford Company engineers create a plastic from soybeans that could be used in the Ford car.  (Ibid. p. 233.)  In 1937, Ford built a soybean processing plant right on the grounds of the Ford Company Rouge Works factory located on the banks of the Rouge River in Detroit Michigan.  (Ibid.)  Soon, plastics comprised about two pounds of the weight of every Ford car manufactured.  However, the two pounds of plastics in Ford cars were limited to small parts like insulated casings and knobs and buttons on the interior of the car.  (Ibid.)  This was still did not represent a major market for soybeans and their products.

Despite all this early attention and product research, the potential of soybeans remained unrealized—a promising product without a real market.  Accordingly, soybeans remained a side line venture in agriculture until the Second World War.  With the United States’ sudden entry into the war, there arose a real demand for clear lightweight plastics products—especially, for windshields and cowlings on military aircraft.

 

Soybean prices in World War II rose because of the plastics used in combat airplane windscreens. Although a direct shot would pierce the safety glass of these safety glass windscreens the safety glass would not shatter and cause injury to the air crew just as a result of flying glass.

 

Stimulated by military purchases of airplanes fitted with plastic cowlings and windshields, the price of soybeans soared.  Farmers began planting soybeans in a big way.  The farmers of Blue Earth County followed this trend.  In 1941, the last year before the war, only 3,400 acres of the arable land in the whole of Blue Earth County had been planted to soybeans.  However, in 1942, soybean acreage in the county tripled—reaching 11,100 acres.  By 1945, the acreage devoted to soybeans in Blue Earth County would nearly triple again—up 31,000 acres. Continue reading Soybean Farming in Butternut Township (Part I of 2 Parts)

Egg Raising in Dryden Township in Sibley County Minnesota (Part 2 of Two Parts )

A McCormick-Deering “Little Genius” Plow in Dryden Township (Part II)

 by

Brian Wayne Wells

This article is the second part of a two-part series of articles which was not published in the Belt Pulley magazine.

 

A McCormick-Deering Little Genius No. 8 two-bottom plow with 14 inch bottoms mounted on steel wheels.

 

In 1940, as previously noted, a particular farmer and his wife were engaged in diversified farming on a 160 acre farm in Dryden Township in Sibley County, Minnesota.  (See the first article in this series called “A McCormick-Deering ‘Little Genius’ Plow in Dryden Township [Part I]” contained in the January/February 2009 issue of Belt Pulley magazine.)  Also as noted previously, our Dryden Township farmer had used the money received from the unusually large “bumper” corn crop of 1939 to purchase a used 1935 Farmall Model F-20 tractor, a two-row mounted cultivator and a new two-bottom McCormick-Deering “Little Genius” No. 8 plow with 14 inch bottoms from his local International Harvester Company (IHC)  dealership—Thomes Brothers Hardware located  in Arlington, Minnesota (1930 pop. 915).

Since its introduction in 1928, the Little Genius plow had become one of the most popular tractor trailing plows sold in the North America.  The Little Genius plow replaced an earlier McCormick-Deering plow called the “Little Wonder.”  The Little Wonder had proved to be a disappointment to IHC and to farmers that used the plow.  Because of its light construction and because of the lack of clearance under the frame, the Little Wonder had trouble plowing in any kind of soil conditions especially in fields with any trash on the surface of the ground.  The Little Wonder tended to clog up in trashy conditions and never seemed to adequately turn the soil over the way a mold board plow should.  The Little Wonder was such a bad plow that farmers used to say that it was “‘little wonder’ that the plow was able to plow at all.”

Image result for mccormick deering little wonder plow images
The McCormick-Deering “Little Wonder” 2-bottom plow was the predecessor to the Little Genius No. 8 plow.

 

Continued production of the Little Wonder threatened to permanently ruin the International Harvester Company’s reputation as a plow manufacturer.  Introduction of the “Little Genius” plow turned all of that around, however.  In reaction to the criticism of the Little Wonder plow, the Little Genius plow was designed to be a much heavier plow.  Furthermore, the Little Genius was unmatched in clearance under the frame.  The Little Genius could handle a great deal of trash without clogging.  Additionally, the bottoms of the Little Genius plow were more sharply angled to assure a complete roll over of the soil and to completely bury trash that was lying on the surface of the ground.  Thus, the Little Genius tended to work well in fields with a lot of trash on the surface of the ground. However, the sharp angle of the bottoms of the Little Genius plow meant that the plow had an increased load or draft as the plow was pulled across the field.  Thus, the Little Genius plow needed to be matched to tractors with more horsepower than mold board plows designed with a less angle to their bottoms—such as the Oliver A-series Model 100 Plowmaster.

Our Dryden Township farmer was pleasantly surprised at the low price that Thomes Bros. offered for the purchase of the used 1935 F-20 tractor, the new cultivator and the new Little Genius plow.  So, in the early spring of 1940, he signed the sales agreement with the Thomes Bros. Hardware dealership to purchase the tractor, plow and cultivator.  Our Dryden Township farmer was anxious to get into the fields with the tractor and new plow and so he took immediate delivery of the tractor and plow.  The winter of 1939-1940 was colder than normal with more than the usual amount of snow.  Accordingly, it looked as though, the spring field work would be delayed because of the large amount of snow.

A gray-painted Farmall Model F-20 tractor with red painted steel wheels.

 

Continue reading Egg Raising in Dryden Township in Sibley County Minnesota (Part 2 of Two Parts )

Egg Raising in Dryden Township, Sibley County Minnesota (Part 1)

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A McCormick-Deering Little Genius Plow at Work in

Dryden Township, Sibley County, Minnesota 

(Part 1 of 2 Parts)

 by

Brian Wayne Wells

(This is a new article that was never published in

Belt Pulley Magazine)

Mark Wells working with the Trebesch plow in the fields on the grounds of the LeSueur Pioneer Power Assoc. in 1994

The more a person works at restoration of an old farm tractor or a farm implement the more one begins to ponder the history of that farm implement.  One wonders, who originally purchased the farm implement.  What kind farming operation was the implement used for?   If curiosity is sufficiently aroused the person restoring the tractor or implement may start making telephone calls back to the person who sold the tractor and may start attempting to establish a chain of ownership of the tractor or implement back to the original owner.  However, the process of establishing the chain of ownership can be extremely difficult as time passes and memories fade.  Furthermore, when purchases of tractors and farm implements are made, as many are, at swap meets and/or auctions and when such purchases are made for cash from individuals unknown, the chain of ownership can be extremely difficult to reconstruct.  (Just how difficult it is to start reconstructing the history of a tractor when time passes is described in the two-part series of articles contained in the July/August 2008 and November/December 2008 issues of Belt Pulley magazine which deal with a 1937 Farmall Model F-20 tractor.)  Thus, it is often important to collect history of a particular tractor or implement at the point of sale or at least collect telephone numbers to call back at a later date.

 

The 1937 F-20 bearing the Serial No. 71355.

 

Such pondering over the history of the history of a particular implement was particularly true during the restoration of one particular McCormick-Deering Little Genius 2-bottom plow with 14″ bottoms.  (The actual restoration of this plow is described in the article carried on page 11 of the September/October 1994 issue of Belt Pulley magazine [Vol. 7, No. 5.  This article is called “The McCormick-Deering  Little Genius Plow” and has also been posted on this website.)  This particular plow was purchased by Mark Wells at the 1993 LeSueur County Pioneer Power Swap Meet.  Luckily, Mark Wells had written down the name and address of the seller of the plow–Larry Hiles of rural Arlington, Minnesota.

Arlington, Minnesota is located in eastern central Sibley County.

 

Contact was established with Larry Hiles in 1995.  Larry Hiles was living in Arlington Township in Sibley County.  The homestead was located just south of the village of Arlington.  This particular Little Genius plow had been discovered by Larry Hiles parked in the grove of trees that formed the wind break for this homestead.  The farm on which the homestead was located had been originally owned by Earl Nagel.  While living on the farm, Earl Nagel was actively engaged in farming the land.  In about 1956, the homestead on the farm was sold to Raymond Kraels, who was a rural mail carrier.  Raymond Kraels was not actively engaged in farming the land.  On July 12, 1974, Delmar and Bonnie Mae (Kopishke) Trebesch rented and moved onto the homestead on the Nagel/Krael farm.  During the years that the Trebesch family lived on the farm, they had a large garden.  The garden was so big that they needed a tractor plow to turn the soil of the garden at the conclusion of each growing season.  Accordingly, sometime after moving onto the farm, Delmar Trebesch purchased a McCormick-Deering Little Genius 2-bottom plow at a local farm auction.  This was the same McCormick-Deering Little Genius plow that was later sold by Larry Hiles to Mark Wells at the 1993 LeSueur County Pioneer Power Swap Meet and became known as the “Trebesch plow.”

Sibley County is located in the rich farm land of southern Minnesota.

 

As described in the article in the September/October 1994 issue of Belt Pulley, cited above, this particular Little Genius plow was fitted with 14 inch bottoms and originally had been a steel wheeled plow fitted with McCormick-Deering’s own “round-spoke” steel wheels.  However, the front wheels on this particular plow had been cut down and rims for rubber tires had been welded onto the round spokes of the front wheels.  As noted in the above-cited article, although the “furrow wheel” on the right side of the plow had been fitted with a rim for a 6.00 x 16 inch rubber tire, the land wheel on the left side of the plow was fitted with a rim for a 4.75 x 19 inch tire.  This seemed a rather odd pairing of tires sizes for the front of the plow.  If a farmer were having the steel wheels of the plow cut down to mount rubber tires on his plow, why would he not make the tires on both sides of the plow the same size?

Before the Second World War very few farm implements were sold from the factory with rubber tires.  Nonetheless, as noted in the 1994 article, the International Harvester Company (IHC) had been offering the Little Genius plow to the farming public with the option of rubber tires as early as the 1930s.  Rubber tires were not a common option on the Little Genius plow in the pre-world War II era.  However, during the “pre-war” era, IHC had a contract with the French and Hecht Company (F.& H.) of Davenport, Iowa, to supply rims for all the rubber-tired equipment sold under the McCormick-Deering name.  Pursuant to this contract, F.& H. supplied their familiar “round spoke” wheel rims to IHC.  When the option of rubber tires were requested on the Little Genius plow, IHC fitted the plow with a 6.00 x 16 inch tire on the furrow wheel and a 4.75 x 19 inch tire on the land wheel.

This followed the design pattern of the original steel-wheeled Little Genius plow, in which the land side wheel was bigger in diameter that the furrow wheel. The reason for this wheel configuration was that the land wheel was the wheel connected to the clutch of the plow.  The clutch on the land wheel was the mechanism that lifted the entire plow out of the ground when the trip rope was pulled at the end of the field.  Consequently, it was thought that a larger diameter wheel was needed to provide the traction and leverage necessary to pull the plow out of the ground in some heavy soil conditions where the surface of the ground was slippery.  This was the situation when plowing succulent green vegetation (green fertilizer) into the soil.  The land wheel rolling along on the vegetation could become slippery from the succulent plant life crushed under the land wheel.  Then when the trip rope in pulled the land wheel might slide along the surface of the ground rather than continuing to turn and lifting the plow out of the ground.  Accordingly, it was decided that the land wheel should be larger in diameter so as to provide more leverage when the clutch was engaged to pull the plow out of the ground.  As a result, the steel-wheeled version of the Little Genius plow was fitted with a 30 inch steel wheel on the land wheel side of the plow and a 24 inch steel wheel on the furrow wheel side of the plow.

The 30 inch steel wheel that was the original standard equipment wheel on the left side (land side) of the plow.

Thus, when the optional rubber tires were installed on the Little Genius plow at the factory in Canton, Illinois, the plow was fitted with a land wheel and tire of a larger diameter than the furrow wheel of the plow.  During the immediate pre-war era, the 6.00 x 16 inch tire was becoming the most commonly used tire on automobiles.  However, the 4.75 x 19 inch tire was also a well-known and popular size tire, it was the size of tire that was used on the very popular Ford Model A car.  Thus, the configuration of a 6.00 x 16 inch tire on the furrow wheel and a 4.75 x 19 inch tire on the land wheel became the standard configuration for Little Genius plows sold with rubber tires before the Second World War.  A 1941 picture of the showroom of the Johnson Bros IHC Dealership of Taylorsville, Illinois bears this out.  In the foreground of the picture is a new rubber-tired version of the Little Genius plow with a 6.00 x 16 inch tire on the furrow wheel and a 4.75 x 19 inch tire on the land wheel side of the plow.

 

Inside the showroom of a typical McCormick-Deering dealership in the immediate pre-war period of 1940 and 1941.

 

During the Second World War hardly any rubber was available for civilian use.  Consequently, IHC reverted to steel wheels on its new farm equipment.  Some time during the Second World War, the contract with F.& H. was terminated and IHC signed another supply contract for rims with the Electric Wheel Company of Quincy, Illinois.  The wheels provided by the Electric Wheel Company were “disc-type” wheels.  Thus, the “post-war” McCormick-Deering Little Genius plow becomes distinguishable from the “pre-war” Little Genius plow fitted with rubber tires, in that disc-type wheels characterized post-war Little Genius plows and F.& H. round-spoke wheel rims characterized pre-war Little Genius plows fitted with rubber tires.   Thus, when cutting down the steel wheels of the Trebesch plow, someone had done a lot of work to make the plow appear as though it came from the factory as a rubber tired plow during the pre-war era.

The left side (land side) wheel on the Delmer Trebesch 2-bottom plow that was fitted with a 19 inch by 4.75 inch Model A Ford car tire.

By 1974, when Delmar Trebesch ended up being the highest bidder on this particular “Little Genius” plow, the increased size of the average farming operation and the larger equipment used on the average farm had definitely made this two-bottom tractor trailing plow into an “antique” from a bygone era.  However, there was a time when this particular Little Genius plow had been a new object of attention for a particular farmer looking to modernize his farming operation.  Continue reading Egg Raising in Dryden Township, Sibley County Minnesota (Part 1)