The Farmall F-12 (Part III):
The 1938 Rasmus Thronson Farmall F-12 Tractor
Brian Wayne Wells
with the assistance of
Elvin Papenhausen of Princeton, Minnesota
As published in the September/October 2003 issue of
Belt Pulley Magazine
As noted earlier the “waist” of Minnesota is the narrow part of the state, as it appears on a map. (See the article called “The Possible Story of One” Part I of the Loren Helmbrecht Tractor contained in the May/June 2003 issue of Belt Pulley magazine at page 28.) The waist is located roughly half way between the northern and southern parts of the state. Located in the waist, bordering Sherburne County on the north side is Mille Lacs County. (See the above-cited article for a description of Sherburne County.)
This area of the State of Minnesota is where the deciduous hardwood forests of the southeastern portion of the State end and the northern coniferous forests begin. (Theodore C. Blegen, Minnesota: A History of the State [University of Minnesota Press: Minneapolis, 1963] p. 11.) The pine and fir trees of the northern coniferous forests spring from the same sandy soil that covers Mille Lacs County.
As described in an earlier article, the sandy soil of the area had made the area of Sherburne and Mille Lacs County a good place to raise potatoes. Potato farming had thrived in the area of Mille Lacs and Sherburne Counties since 1890. (See “The Possible Story of One F-12” cited above.) In 1908, potato marketing cooperative associations began making their appearance in the State of Minnesota. (Blegen at p. 399.) In 1920, the Minnesota Potato Exchange was formed.
Princeton Minnesota (1920 pop. 1,685) served as a marketing outlet for the area potato crop. Indeed, in 1901 and 1902 Princeton became the largest primary potato market in the Northwest. One of the major potato buyers in Princeton was O.J. Odegard Farms Inc. Although, the Odegard family operated their own potato and onion growing operations on their own farm called “the bog,” Odegard’s served as a major buyer of potatoes for the entire Princeton area.
During the potato harvest in the fall of the year, the Odegard warehouse, located on 2nd South Street became a major employer in town. Potatoes were received washed and packed into 100 lbs. sacks and loaded onto freight cars of the Great Northern Railroad. The Great Northern tracks ran through town, north towards the county seat of Milaca and south to the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul. The loading of the freight cars took place at the Great Northern Railroad Depot which is located at 10th Avenue and 1st Street in Princeton. (This depot is now the home of the exhibits and library materials of the Mille Lacs County Historical Society.) The potatoes were sold to wholesalers in Minneapolis.
Not only did Odegards hire on employees to work the harvest and processing of potatoes in the fall of the year, but they also hired on teenagers all summer to work on their hands and knees weeding the fields of their own farm in the bog. This made Odegards the largest employer in the Princeton area. (Taken from the manuscript called Memories of Princeton, Minnesota by Elvin Papenhausen.)
Princeton even developed into a market for the “culls” or unsatisfactory potatoes that potato growers could not sell on the edible potato market. These cull potatoes were used in the manufacture of commercial starch. On March 26, 1890 the Princeton Potato Starch Company was incorporated and a factory was built. The factory was so busy processing cull potatoes that the factory operated both day and night. Later a second starch factory was built in Princeton. (From an internet document called “History of Princeton, Minnesota.”)
In 1919, following, the First World War, the International Harvester Company made their first major corporate acquisition since 1904, when they purchased the Parlin & Orendorff (P. & O.) Company of Canton, Illinois. (C.H. Wendel, 150 Years of International Harvester [Crestline Pub.: Sarasota, Fla., 1981], p. 31.) Along with their famous line of plow, the P. & O. Company also had introduced a mechanical potato digger several years prior to the merger with International Harvester. The International Harvester Company inherited this horse-drawn mechanical potato digger. (Ibid. p. 237.) In 1920, International Harvester continued production of this potato digger, with some substantial improvements. The potato digger was called the McCormick-Deering Model No. 6 potato digger. (Ibid.) One of the improvements of the Model No. 6 over the prior P.&O. Company potato digger was the rod-link chain apron. The potatoes would travel over the moving apron which would shake off all the dirt. The potatoes would then be deposited on top of the ground in plain view for the field hands to collect. (Ibid.)
In 1920 the local International Harvester dealership franchise in Princeton, Minnesota may have been held by the owner and operator of the local hardware store. Starting in 1920, the International Harvester dealership in Princeton was able to compete in the potato growing market by supplying the area potato farms with mechanical potato diggers. In 1921, International Harvester introduced the new McCormick-Deering potato planter. Together the Model No. 6 potato digger and the new McCormick-Deering potato planter allowed the dealership in Princeton to prosper all through the early part of the 1920s. Sales of farm equipment allowed the hardware store to advertise employment for a position of farm equipment sales person.
In answer to the newspaper advertisement of the position of sales person at the hardware store an ambitious 24-year-old man by the name of Floyd Hall arrived in Princeton. Born in Henry, South Dakota, on January 30, 1896 to W. K. and Grace (Henry) Hall, Floyd had married Eva Leathers on October 11, 1916. Eva was also from the town of Henry. In 1918, while still living in Henry, Eva had given birth to their son, Willard F. Hall. Now in 1920, she was pregnant again with a daughter. Marjorie Hall was born to the couple in December of 1920.