The Wayne A. and Marilyn Wells 1950 Farmall Model M
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.
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.
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.
The 1945 Case Model SC Tractor in Nicollet County, Minnesota
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 J. I. Case Company introduced their first tricycle-style tractor—the Model CC tractor in 1929. The CC weighed 4,240 lbs. (pounds) and produced 27.37 hp. (horsepower) to the belt pulley and 17.33 hp. to the drawbar. The CC was advertised as a tractor that could pull a two-bottom plow with 14 inch bottoms. So the Model CC could perform all the heavy tillage work in the fields of the average farm, just like the “four-wheel” or “standard” tractors that Case had offered the farming public before 1929. These four-wheel tractors could do all the field work on the farms of North America except one field task–the cultivation of row-crops. Thus, even with a standard type tractor, the North America farmer could get rid of a large number of horses on the farm that were required for heavy tillage and seed-bed preparation in the Spring of each year. However, the farmer would have to retain enough horses necessary for cultivation of the row-crops on the farm. With the introduction of “row crop” or tricycle style tractors, the North American farmer was able to purchase one of these row crop tractors, like the Case Model CC. Then, the farmer would then be able to get rid of all the horses on his farm and farm in a fully mechanized way. Thus, the Model CC could be used to provide all the power on the farm to perform all the field work over the whole growing season.
The most unique feature about all the Case Model CC was the steering rod than located outside the hood of the tractor on the left side of the tractor. This rod extended along the left side of the tractor to the front wheels the tractor. Because this looked like a convenient place for the chickens, on the farm, to roost during the night, this rod became popularly known as “chicken’s roost.” Over the entire production from 1929 until 1939, 29,824 Model CC tractors were made.
In 1939, the CC was “styled,” modernized and the engine was upgraded in horsepower to a full 32.92 hp. at the belt pulley or the and 24.39 hp. at the drawbar. The tractor was re-designated as the new Case Model DC-3 tricycle style tractor. Instead of being painted gray like the Model CC, the Model DC-3 was painted a reddish-orange color that the J. I. Case Company called “Flambeau Red.” The DC-3 had a new Case-built engine with a 3-7/8 inch bore and a 5 ½ inch stroke, was commonly fitted with 11.25 by 38 inch rubber tires and weighed 7,010 lbs. Case advertised the DC-3 tractor as a “full three-plow tractor.” This meant that the DC-3 could pull a three–bottom plow even with 16 inch bottoms in most plowing conditions. By 1944, the suggested retail price of the DC was $1,270 as mounted on rubber tires. During the entire production run of the Model DC-3 from 1939 until 1955, 54,925 DC-3 tractors were manufactured by the J.I. Case Company, or about 3,433 Model DC-3’s per year.
With the introduction of the DC-3 and the phasing out of the Model CC tractor there was a vacancy in the “two-plow” class of tractors within the J. I. Case Company tractor line. Accordingly, in 1940, one year after the introduction of the DC-3, the J.I. Case Company introduced the Model SC tractor. The Model SC weighed 4,200 lbs., was fitted with a 2.7 liter four-cylinder engine with a 3 ½ inch bore and a 4 inch stroke which delivered 21.62. hp to the belt pulley and 16.18 hp. to the drawbar. The Model SC was painted Flambeau Red to match the Model DC-3 and retained the hand clutch, the same “chicken’s roost” style steering rod of the Model CC and the Model DC-3 and retained the 11.25 by 38 inch rear rubber tires of the Model DC-3. However, the Model SC could be purchased for a much lower price than the DC-3. Many farmers took advantage of this price difference to purchase the Model SC tractor and the Model SC tractor became the best-selling tractor of the Case Flambeau Red line of tractors. Over its shorter production run (from 1940 until 1955), a total of 58,991 Model SC tractors (or about 3,933 Model SC’s per year) were produced and sold by the company—this is a total of 4,066 more SC’s produced by the Case Company than the total number of DC-3 tractors produced over the longer production run of the DC-3. In other words from 1940 until 1955. there were about 500 more SC tractors produced each year than there were Model DC-3 tractors during the same period of time.
Of course not every year of the production run from 1940 until 1955 was like the next. History intervened, during this period of time, in the form of the Second World War, history from 1939 until 1955. Involvement of the United States in the Second World War dated from the surprise bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 by the Japanese Imperial forces. Following the Pearl Harbor attack, most heavy industrial companies, like the J. I. Case Company were required by the United States government to join the war effort, as the country fought a desperate war in two separate theaters of operations (Europe and the Pacific). Production of civilian goods gave way to production for the war effort. However, it took some time for the various companies to be assigned their government military contracts and to start producing wartime materials. For the Case Company production of farm tractors at their factory located in Racine, Wisconsin tapered off somewhat gradually in favor of war materials for the war effort. The factory at Racine was called the “Main Works.” During the war, the “Main Works” became involved in the production of bombs and artillery shells, doors for the Sherman tank and parts for the B-26 bomber.
The limited amount of tractors that were produced during the war, rolled off the assembly line at the Main Works were assigned a serial numbers in sequence regardless of the model. There are no separate serial numbers for the S-series, the D-series or the V-series tractors. The first two numbers of any Case tractor serial number designates the year in which the tractor was assembled at the Main Works. Even these first two numbers are hidden in some obscurity. If the first two numbers of a particular are 44, this does not mean the tractor was produced in 1944. Four years must be subtracted from the first two numbers of every serial number to arrive at the actual production year of the tractor. Thus, the digits of “44,” in the serial number example cited above, stand for 1940—not for 1944.
Accordingly, in the fifth year of the Model SC production run , a particular Model SC rolled aff the assembly line at the Main Works bearing the Serial Number 4911952. The first two digits of this particular serial number indicate that the tractor was manufactured at the Main Works in 1945. Since production in the year 1945 began with the serial number 4900001. Production of the Model SC with the Serial No. 4911952 must have been produced rather late in the year, 1945. Indeed a good guess might be that it was produced in December of 1945.
The war years from 1941 until 1945 also brought changes to the Case dealership in Mankato, Minnesota as the Cutkowski dealership became a partnership. The “Cutkowski dealership” had begun its existence as the J.I. Case Company dealership. Harry Cutkowski began working at the dealership at mechanic. In 1936, he became the sole proprietor of the dealership. In the years before the entry of the United States into the Second World War, the Cutkowski dealership had made a great reputation for itself all across southern Minnesota and northern Iowa. Now in during the war, Harry Cutkowski took on Earnest Allen Jones as a partner.
Earnest and Vivian Maude (Baldwin) Jones moved to Mankato, Minnesota in 1936 shortly after Harry Cutkowsky had purchased the J.I. Case delaership in Mankato. Prior to moving to Mankato, Minnesota Earnest Jones had been employed as a shipping clerk at the J.I. Company Case Company factory in Racine, Wisconsin. As the shipping clerk at the Racine factory, Earnest had become perfectly aware of the pre-war sales success of the Cutkowsky dealership in Mankato, Minnesota. Thus, when Harry Cutkowsky offered to employ Earnest as the manager of his new proprietorship, Earnest jumped at the chance to manage the successful dealership.
By the time that No. 4911952 arrived at the J.I. Case dealership around New Years Day of 1946, Earnest had become a partner and the dealership was known as the “Cutkowsky and Jones” dealership.
As consistent readers of this blog will remember, in December of 1945, another partnership had been formed to start a J.I. Case dealership in another small Minnesota town. This was the parnership of Duane Wetter and Merle Krinke who were forming a dealership in LeRoy, Minnesota. During December of 1945, Merle Krinke and Duane Wetter were busy buying property in the small town of LeRoy, Minnesota to establish what would become the local Case dealership called the “LeRoy Equipment Company.” (See the two part series of articles called “The Rise and Decline of the LeRoy Equipment Dealership.” contained at this website.) The new dealership of LeRoy Equipment Company was due to open on Tuesday January 29, 1946 and was in drastic need of an inventory of new Case farm tractors and Case farm machinery. Accordingly, the Model SC tractor bearing the serial number 4911952 could have been sent to this new dealership in LeRoy, Minnesota, to help the new dealership get off the ground.
If 4911852 had been sent to the LeRoy Equipment Company dealership, the tractor might have ended up on the Walter and Clarence Hanson farm three miles east of the village of LeRoy. As it was Walter and Clarence Hanson had to wait until sometime after March 10, 1947 for a subsequent Model SC to arrive at the LeRoy Equipment Company to purchase their Model SC tractor.
The Case Main Tractor Works in Racine, Wisconsin was still trying to struggle with the retooling process to convert to production of civilian farm equipment products The Case Corporation was hardpressed for funds. Thus, the decision was made to sent No. 4911952 to the veteran dealership with a big reputation for sales (Cutkowski and Jones dealership in Mankato, Minnesota) rather than to a new startup dealership (the LeRoy Equipment Company in LeRoy, Minnesota) with no reputation at all–yet. Accordingly, No. 4911952 was sent to the Cutkowski and Jones partnershipdealership” located at 202 No. Main Street in Mankato, Minnesota.
Then the United States was attacked at Pearl Harbor in December of 1941. Like nearly all other manufacturing concerns the Case Company was greatly curtailed in its production of civilian materials including tractors and farm machinery by the government. For the duration of the war all manufacturing was to be directed toward the war effort in Europe and the Pacific.
With the return of peace in September of 1945, production of the tractors had just begun again. J. I. Case Company was still struggling to retool for full time civilian production. On December 26, 1945, shortly after No. 4911952 rolled off the assembly line in Racine, Wisconsin, the Case Tractor Works at Racine, Wisconsin was hit by a labor strike by the United Auto Workers. This labor strike continued for fifteen more months until March 10, 1947.
During the whole period of the strike, the Case Tractor Works was totally closed down and did not produce a single farm tractor. Finally on March 10, 1947 the United Auto Workers and the Case Company signed a new labor collective bargaining agreement and the labor strike ended. Finally, production of farm tractors was begun again at the Case Tractor Works in Racine Wisconsin.
When No. 4911952 arrived at the Cutkowsky dealership just after New Years Days of 1946, the dealership had already been approached by a potential buyer for the little Model SC tractor. This potential buyer was a farmer of a 160-acre farm in Belgrade Township in Ncollet County, Minnesota. This was our Belgrade Township farmer.
Our Belgrade Township farmer’s mother had inherited the 160 acre farm upon the sudden death of her husband (our Belgrade Township farmer’s father) in 1939. Immediately, the total responsibility for the farm fell to our Belgrade Township farmer. Even before the death of his father, our Belgrade Township farmer had already been actively operating a great deal of the work on the farm: planting the crops, spending endless hours cultivating the corn crop and finally harvesting the crops.
The farm was a diversified operation with a Holstein cow dairy operation requiring milking every morning and evening. Our Belgrade Township farmer’s father also had raised pigs for market. Over the years he had bred a mixed herd of breeds of sow with a boar, Which he would buy for the job of siring the litters of little pigs that would be born to the sows each year during the winter months. With some minor exceptions, each sow could be counted on to produce litters of baby pigs for only about three (3) or four (4) years out of their life. Older sows would begin having less pigs per litter until they began to fail getting pregnant at all. Accordingly, his father would have to plan ahead and save out some of the best looking gilts of the various litters over the years to replace some of sows that he was phasing out of the herd because of age.
This meant that some of the daughters of the boar would inevitably be entering the herd of sows to be bred. In order to prevent the problems that might arise due to this sort of inbreeding, our Belgrade Township farmers father would start searching for a new boar. Furthermore, his father found that the by the age of three of four years, the boar had usually grown to more than 500 pounds. This made the boar too big to handle and even too big to breed. Accordingly, new boars would come to the farm about every 30 to 36 months and our Belgrade Township farmer could remember over his years of growing up on the farm, that there was a string of boars that his father purchased and brought to the farm over the years.
He, specifically, remembered one particular big red boar. This boar had made an impression on our Belgrade Township when he was a child, if for other reason that the boar was red in color and was fairly unique. He loved the way this big red pig had left his finger prints on nearly all every litter he sired–nearly every litter contained at least one little red pig.
As he grew up, our Belgrade Township gradually began to take on more responsibilities for the farm, thus, even prior to the death of his father, our Belgrade Township farmer,
had been anticipating obtaining a farm of his own and, indeed, he had been dating a young girl. Together they had talked of getting married and getting a house of their own . However, at the time of the death of his father, our Belgrade Township farmer and this girl friend had drifted apart. At the time, he suspected that this distance that grew up between he and this girl was brought about by her recognition that our Belgrade Township farmer would be forced into handling the farm of his father and moving into his mother’s house. He did not feel that he could do anything else. The situation
Later, however, he had met and married his current wife, and he and his new wife had, indeed, had moved into the house of his mother, because neither of his two younger brothers was prepared to . However, both of his younger brothers were almost ten years younger than our Belgrade Township farmer and were, at time of their father’s death, much too young to operate the whole farm by themselves. handle the they
Production of the Model SC Case continued until 1954. Over the full production run of the Model SC tractor, from 1940 until 1954, a total of 58991 individual SC tractors were made.
The Model SC tractor bearing the Serial Number 4911952 lwas shipped to the Cutkowski and Jones Case equipment dealership in Mankato, Minnesota.
This and eventually sold to a particular farmer operating a farm in western Belgrade Township about 3 or 4 miles to the north of North Mankato on County Road #8 in Nicollet County Minneota. This was the farm of our Belgrade Township farmer. Sold into bankruptcy and No. 4911952 was sold to an auction house in Mankato kept No. 4911952 inside a storage shed or garage until an auction was held a couple months later. At the auction, Ken Weilage purchased No. 4911925 and a couple of other tractors and took the tractors to his 5-acre hobby farm located on the east side of the Hwy. #169 between Mankato and St. Peter, Minnesota.
This hobby farm had originally been a working farm but in the 1960s the arable land of the farm was surveyed and separated from the building site of the farm. The arable land was then sold to a neighboring farmer and the building site was sold to man who worked as a financial services manager named Ken Wielage (Tel:  625-4810), who also had a hobby of collecting and restoring old farm tractors. At this stage, No. 4911952 went through its first repainting and restoration. Once the restoration was complete, the tractor was driven by Ken Weilage in a number of parades. In about 1990 the tractor was sold to group of about ten (10) neighbors, who all lived along Washington Boulevard on the shore of Lake Washington, near the village of Madison Lake, Minnesota. This group of neighbors included John Pfau, the owner of a number of Taco John restaurant franchised in Mankato, St. Peter and New Ulm and was the person who actually found the tractor was for sale by Ken Wielage, the late Ernie Weber, Gordon Strusz (at 4524 Washington Blvd. Madison Lake, Minnesota and Tel.  243-3380); Ray Dumbrowski; and John D. Jacoby who became the person who was most involved with the operation storage and repair of the tractor for the last 20 years. At first, Washington Boulevard was a gravel rode. The neighbors used No. 4911952 to pull an old steel-wheeled grader up and down Washington Boulevard to grade and maintain the road and the tractor was used twice a year to put the neighbors docks in Lake Washington in the spring and pulling the docks out of the waster in the autumn.
In 2013 through 2015 No. 4911952 was displayed on the Mike McCabe farm as a tractor for sale and there was seen by the current author in April of 2015 was and purchased for the Wells Family Farms collection of restored tractors. No. 4911952 is currently undergoing its second restoration.
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A McCormick-Deering “Little Genius” Plow in Dryden Township (Part II)
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.
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.”
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.
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Raising Poland China Hogs in Waseca County, Minnesota (Part I)
Brian Wayne Wells
(As published in the May/June 2008 issue of
Belt Pulley Magazine)
The soil of Waseca County is black, rich, fertile and flat—very flat. The deciduous forests of southern Wisconsin, called the “big woods,” extended into southern Minnesota up to a point about thirty-miles to the east of Waseca County. Everything to the west of the big woods, including Waseca County flat prairie land. Although the land is flat as a tabletop just like the Great Plains further the west, the climate of Waseca County is not at all dry like the climate of the Great Plains. Indeed, in a normal year, Waseca County will be bathed with 34.7 inches of rainfall. (From the Waseca page of the city-data.com web site on the Internet.) The combination of very rich soil and abundant moisture makes Waseca County ideal for raising corn. A healthy crop of corn requires about 22 inches of rain per year. As a result of this abundant rainfall and rich soil, Waseca County traditionally produces corn yields that nearly double the national average yield per acre. In 1921, for example, when the national yield per acre of corn was 27.8 bushels per acre, the yield in Waseca County was 46 bushels per acre. (From the National Agricultural Statistics Service [N.A.S.S.] webpage of the United States Department of Agriculture [U.S.D.A.] website.)
The three townships along the southern boundary of Waseca County from east to west are New Richland Township, Byron Township and Vivian Township. A person driving down any dirt road the within these townships in 1935, would see corn fields on both sides of the road, broken only by the driveways leading to the homesteads of the people living along that particular road. For nearly every mile that a person traveled down that country road, the person would find another crossroad. The crossroads usually indicated the boundary of another section of land. Moving ahead into the next section of land the person would once again find corn planted in the fields on both sides of the road. The only variation in this pattern was the fields of oats and hay. Corn was the primary cash crop of farmers of Waseca County. Oats and hay were not cash crops. Almost all oats and hay raised on the average farm in 1935 was used on the farm—primarily to feed the horses that were needed for the field work in the summer.
Relying only on corn as a cash crop was risky. If the corn market went “soft” and corn prices fell, the farmer would lose money. Traditionally, diversification was the method used by farmers to avoid, or mitigate, the effects of “soft markets.” This was usually accomplished by decreasing the amount of corn raised on the arable land of the average farm and devoting that land to a second cash crop. Traditionally, wheat was raised as a secondary cash crop. However, the amount of acreage devoted to wheat each year had been declining in Waseca County for a long time. Currently, the amount of wheat raised each year was only about a quarter of the amount of corn raised in Waseca County. The most popular method of diversification used on the farms of Waseca County was to raise pigs. The rationale was that when corn prices fell, the farmer could feed the corn to pigs on their farm. Then they could sell the pigs. Provided that pork prices did not decline together with the corn prices, the farmer might still be able to make a profit despite the low corn prices.
One particular farmer in Byron Township in south central Waseca County, had this principle of diversification imprinted on his mind for most of his young life. Originally, his grandfather had “homesteaded” this 160-acre “home” farm. Our current Byron Township farmer’s father had taken over the farming operation from his parents in 1895. Like their neighbors, they needed to devote 35 acres to pasture for their small herd of dairy cows, 30-35 acres to hay and 35 acres to oats. The balance of the arable land, approximately 45 to 50 acres was devoted to corn. The crops were rotated from field to field each year to avoid depleting the soil with any one crop.
A portion of the corn used on this farm had traditionally been used for raising and fattening pgs for market. However, the balance of the corn not needed for feed was sold to the grain elevator in New Richland in the winter of each year. The income derived from the sale of the corn crop made up a substantial portion of the cash income of the farming operation, milking the cows and selling cream to the local creamery in New Richland provided the family with a regular income on a year-around basis. Thus, the dairy operation represented another form of diversification of the farm income.
However, on our Byron Township farmer’s farm, it had always been the pig operation that provided the real diversification and alternate cash income when corn prices were low. All through the 1920s, the price of corn, cycled regularly from an average annual low of $.75 per bushel to an average annual high of $1.19 per bushel. Likewise, during the 1920’s, the wholesale price of hogs had cycled on an annual basis from an average low of $8.29 per hundred weight up to $11.21 per hundred weight.
Generally, the corn in the corn crib was shelled out in February or March each year. After filling the granaries to feed the pigs for the rest of the year, the remainder of the shelled corn could be taken to the grain elevator in New Richland straight from the sheller and sold. This provided the family with the major portion of their winter income on the farm. The feeder pigs generally reached their market weight in July or August and, thus, could be sold at that time. This provided the family with the major income in the summer. This was the pattern of life that our Byron Township farmer knew as he grew up on his parent’s farm.
Gradually, over the years, as our Byron Township farmer grew up into an adult, his father relinquished more and more of the daily decision making regarding the farming operation to him. It became a true partnership. Basically, our Byron Township farmer agreed with his father on the course of the farming operation. His father had been raising pigs for years. Our Byron Township farmer had always been interested in the hogs. However, the hog operation took on a whole new importance on his mind when he began showing pigs at the Waseca County Fair.
His very first pig that he had raised and shown at the county fair had been one of the newborn pigs from one of the litters born to his father’s crossbred sows. That first pig was memorable because the pig had won a blue ribbon at the Fair that year. Winning the blue ribbon had been more the result of more luck than of skill on his part. Still he had been hooked. That blue ribbon perked his interest at an early age to find out all he could about the most profitable ways of raising pigs.
Over their lives, hogs gain 3000% of their own birth weight. (Sara Rath, The Complete Pig [Voyageur Press: Stillwater, Minn., 2000] p. 78.) Furthermore, only a short amount of time required for raising the baby pigs for market—generally five to seven months. Combining this rapid weight gain with the short gestation period of three months, three weeks and three days from breeding until “farrowing” (giving birth), made the hog operation on the average farm the most profitable part of the farming operation. (Kelly Klober, Storey’s Guide to Raising Pigs.[Storey Pub. Co.: North Adams, Mass., 1997] p. 22.) This rapid turn-around in time from initial investment until profit in hogs compared with the nine month gestation period in cattle and then the nearly two years needed to bring feeder cattle up to their market weight. (See the article called “A 1931 Farmall at Work in Mower County, Minnesota” in the March/April 2008 issue of Belt Pulley magazine for a description of a small beef operation on a diversified Midwestern farm.) Our Byron Township farmer and his father both knew that this very rapid turn-around combined with fact that an average sow would farrow a litter usually contained ten baby pigs could generate a great deal of income for the farming operation and be a real “mortgage lifter.” It all depended on getting the baby pigs successfully raised to their full market weight. Proper management was the key. It all started with the mother sow.
All farm machinery manufacturing companies depend heavily on their various franchisees and sales staff for the success of the company. The story of the sales component of any company consists of hundreds of small individual stories. The J.I. Case Threshing Machine Company is no exception to this rule. One thread in the continuing story of the sales component of the J.I. Case Company began on a farm in Carroll County, Iowa near the small town of Lanesboro on January 1, 1914. On that day, a second child, another son was born to Otto and Hazel (Coomes) Wetter. This son was named Duane E. Wetter. Duane joined the first born, Maurice, who had been born to the family in 1913. Later in 1916, a daughter, Winifred E., born to the family. The Wetter family operated the farm in Carroll County until 1917 when they purchased another farm in Redwood County, Minnesota. This farm was located in Woodbury, Township within Redwood County.
Just to the south of Woodbury Township lay Lamberton Township. Here on December 13, 1918, another thread in this same story, began with the birth of a fourth son, Merle to the family of John and Ella (Werner) Krinke. Both of Ella Krinke’s parents had immigrated to the United States from Prussia in Germany. While John’s father, Christian William Krinke, had also immigrated from Germany, his mother, Mary, had been born in Wisconsin. After living in Wisconsin, and near Rochester, Minnesota and near Blue Earth Minnesota, Christian and Mary (Adler) Krinke purchased a 320-acre farm three (3) miles northwest of the town of Lamberton, Minnesota in 1905. This was the farm where John Krinke grew up. In 1910, John and Ella had married. In 1912, a son, Darold was born to the couple. Then another son, Kenneth, was born in 1913. In 1914, upon the retirement of his parents, John and Ella took over total control of the farming operations. Meanwhile the family kept expanding. A third son, Donald was born in 1915. Following the birth of Merle in 1918, two daughters were born, Mildred in 1921 and Ruth in 1922. Finally, two more children, Robert born in 1925 and Betty born in 1929 rounded out the family of two parents and eight children.
On the 320-acre farm, John and Ella raised about 20 acres of rye, and 20 acres of wheat for cash crops. However, the family’s largest crop was about 100 acres of corn. Some of the corn was used as feed for the pigs and the beef cattle they also raised on the farm. However, 40-50 acres of the arable land on the farm had to be designated each year for the raising of oats to feed the many horses they used for power on the farm. As the older sons came of age, they helped their father with the field work. To effectively and efficiently operate this 320 acre farm took a lot of manpower and horsepower. As John’s sons grew up they helped their father with the work on the farm. The family had a five (5) horse hitch and a six (6) horse hitch which they employed when plowing in the fall and the spring. Including riding horses, the Krinke family at one point, owned and operated 22 horses on their farm. Additionally, the family milked 10 to 12 Milking Shorthorn cows twice a day as a part of their farming operations. Kenneth, who is currently living in Lamberton at the age of 93 years, remembers that he and his brothers each had to milk three (3) cows every morning before they headed off to school. The family also raised a substantial herd of Hereford beef cattle. Thus, another large portion of the arable land on the farm had to be set aside just for raising hay for pastures for the dairy cows, the beef herd and the horses.
Besides the substantial help provided by their boys, John and Ella still needed to hire on additional help during the busy threshing season. Sam Marburger, a bachelor farmer also living in Lamberton township had a 28” Altman-Taylor threshing machine and a steam engine that he used in the summer to perform custom threshing for other farmers in the neighborhood. By the time of the mid 1920s, farming had recovered to some degree from the post-World War I recession that had settled over the farming economy in 1921. At this time, John Krinke perceived that the work would progress much smoother during threshing season if the family had their own thresher. Accordingly, he paid a visit to Oscar Wiebold, the local J.I.Case Company dealer in Lamberton. Eventually he signed a purchase agreement for a 22” Case thresher and a crossmotor Case tractor to power the thresher. After a while they also purchased a tractor plow to be able to use the tractor in the fields as well as on the belt. Soon other neighbors were soliciting John and his sons to do the threshing on their farms also. So the family found that they could supplement their farm income with some income from custom threshing in the neighborhood. Later in the 1920s, the Krinke family obtained a Waterloo Boy tractor which was also used to power the thresher.
John continued to plant his corn with the horses and the wire check two-row corn planter. Wire checking meant that a wire with curls or “buttons” placed every 40 inches along the wire was stretched across the entire length of the field. The wire was then attached to a mechanism on the side of the planter. As the horses pulled the planter across the field, the buttons on the wire would cause the mechanism to trip both rows of the planter at the same time. Thus, not only were the rows planted 40 inches apart, but the “hills” of corn were planted 40 inches apart within the rows. This formed a perfect grid of hills in the corn field which allowed the corn to be cultivated “cross-wise” as well as length-wise. Accordingly, not only were all the weeds between the rows dug up and eliminated by the cultivator, but even the weeds between the hills within the rows were removed by “cross cultivating” the corn. Every year, corn farmers tried to cultivate every corn field on their farm three times—the first cultivation was conducted lengthwise, then the corn was cross-cultivated and finally the corn was cultivated once again in a lengthwise fashion. Cultivation of the corn, thus, required a great number of hours (or days) of work during the summer. No wonder then when a mechanical way of speeding up this summertime task was developed, farmers jumped at the chance to employ this newer method of getting the task done.
Exactly for this reason, John Krinke obtained another tractor. This tractor was a tricycle-style Farmall Model F-12 tractor. Besides moving faster in the field and having more endurance than horses, the F-12 was designed to be fitted with a two row cultivator. Thus, tractor cultivation of the corn could proceed at a rate of two rows at a time or twenty (20) acres in a single day as opposed to a mere six (6) or eight (8) acres a day when cultivating with the horses one row at a time. John Krinke was made aware of his need to save all the time in the fields as he could. In 1934, his oldest son, Darold got married and moved onto a farm of his own. In 1936, his second son, Kenneth did the same. In 1934, Donald had graduated from high school in Lamberton and had entered Minneapolis Business School.
Meanwhile, his fourth son, Merle, was also growing up. After obtaining an eighth grade education in a country school, Merle had enrolled in Lamberton High School for the “short course.” The short course was only three (3) months long and took place in the middle of the winter. The short course was designed for farm students who needed to help their parents on the farm during the spring and the fall of the year. Also attending these short courses at Lamberton High School was Duane Wetter. Although living in separate townships, the Wetter family and the Krinke family had become acquainted with each other at the Methodist Church in Lamberton. Originally, the Wetter’s had been attending another church in the community, but when that church suddenly burned down, they began attending the Methodist Church. In their first year on their new farm in Woodbury Township Otto and Hazel Wetter had added to their family with the birth of another son, Milo in 1918. Later, two more daughters, Zona in 1920 and Donna in 1923, were added to the family. Now during the short courses at Lamberton High School, the children of both families became more closely acquainted. Furthermore, in the fall of 1932 a new teacher moved to Lamberton from Amboy, Minnesota. This new teacher was Robert W. (Bob) Olson.
Bob Olson had a fairly active life. Born in 1893 in Sterling Township in Blue Earth County near the small town of Amboy, Minnesota (1900 pop. 432), Bob had served as a United States Army pilot during World War I. Coming home from the war in late 1918, he enrolled in school at the University of Minnesota and became a teacher. While at the University he met Mabeth Starrett. They fell in love and were married in 1920. Unable to find a teaching job, Bob and Mabeth moved back to the home farm of Bob’s parents in Amboy. Rural living was a new experience for Mabeth, but she soon adapted to life on the farm where she and Bob lived for a number of years. Two children were born to the young couple—a son, Bob S. Olson in 1924 and a daughter, Helen in 1926. Bob helped his father on the large family farm. However, in 1932, Bob was hired to teach an industrial arts class at the High School in Lamberton. Accordingly, Bob and Mabeth and their children moved to Lamberton. Among the students in Bob Olson’s industrial arts class during the winter months of the 1932-1933 school year was Merle Krinke. Although Duane Wetter had graduated from Lamberton High School on the previous June 2, 1932, he may well have met Bob Olson, anyway and Bob Olson might well have had an impact on the life of Duane Wetter. At any rate the lives of Bob Olson and Duane Wetter have some surprising parallels.
Like Bob Olson, upon graduating from high school, Duane went to Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul to further his education. He attended Dunwoody Institute in Minneapolis and studied the new and growing technology of refrigeration. After finishing his studies at Dunwoody, Duane obtained employment at the Minnesota Department of Highways in 1939. That fall, war broke out in Europe. As the war stretched into its second year, United States’ involvement in the war seemed more likely all the time. Even before the United States became involved in the growing world war, Duane joined the war effort by journeying to Winnipeg, Canada, to join the Royal Canadian Air Force (R.A.F.) and became a pilot. He met and married Esther Else. Together they moved off to Sherbrook, Quebec, where Duane became a flight instructor of other prospective fighter pilots. While the couple was living in Sherbook, Esther became pregnant and gave birth to a son, Berwyn. In May of 1944, after the United States had become involved in the world war, Duane and many other American citizens serving as pilots in the Canadian R.A.F. took advantage of the agreement between Canada and the United States to transfer from the R.A.F. to the United States Army Air Corp. (Following the Second World War, the Army Air Corp would become an independent branch of the armed forces—the United States Air Force.) Thus, Duane was shipped out to Europe as a replacement pilot attached to the 316th U.S. Fighter Squadron of the 324th Fighter Group, stationed in Luneville, France. Thus just like Bob Olson a generation earlier, here was Duane Wetter serving as a pilot for the United States Army Air Corp in a war against the Germans and stationed in France.
Duane was assigned to a Republic Company-made P-47 (Thunderbolt) fighter and began flying combat missions on February 14, 1945. He would end the war as a survivor of seventy five (75) combat flight missions and also would win a number of decorations for valour during his service in Europe. Following the war, Duane stayed on in Europe to become part of the occupation forces stationed at Stuttgart, Germany. Duane was discharged from the military and was finally able to make his way back to Minnesota only in November of 1945.
In the meantime, Bob Olson had also impacted two other students in his short time at Lamberton High School. In the industrial arts class during that school year of 1932-1933 were Donald and Merle Krinke. During the fall and spring months, the Krinke boys were needed by their parents for help on the farm. However, during the “short course” held in during the winter months both Donald and Merle sought to further their education. During the short time that the boys knew Bob Olson in the winter of 1932-1933, Bob Olson made an impression on these boys that lasted far beyond their school days.
At the end of the school year, Bob Olson made a decision to leave teaching and take advantage of a business opportunity in Lamberton. He purchased a franchise from the J.I. Case Company to sell farm machinery in the rural area around Lamberton. This was 1933, starting a business at this time appeared to be a foolish decision. Business activity all across the nation was at a standstill because of the worst economic depression in the history of the United States. Bob’s outgoing personality and business sense were assets for his new business, but the biggest asset to his new business was the improvement in the economy. As 1933 gave way to 1934, the economy started to improve ever so slightly. Everybody breathed a sigh of relief and everybody began spending money again with more confidence in the future. Farmers, began once again to feel that there was a future in their occupation and began to purchase new farm equipment.
The dealership was housed together with a hardware store and a plumbing and heating business. However on the farm equipment side of his new business, Bob found that, more and more, that the row crop tractor was the single item of farm machinery that farmers wanted most. This made sense given the fact that corn was the primary crop grown in Redwood County. On average, 37.5% of all farm acreage in the county was growing corn. The second most produced crop in the county was oats—with 26.3% of all farm land in the county growing oats. However, oats and hay were grown on all farms largely as feed for the animals, in particular the horses that were used for power on the farms. If both hay (10.4% of all farm land) and oats were removed from consideration, corn then made up of 59.3% of all “cash crops” grown on the farms of Redwood County.
Small wonder then that Bob Olson found that the Case Model CC row crop tractor was in large demand by the farmers showing up at his new dealership. The row crop tractor was allowing farmers to mechanize all the farming operations on their farm especially the cultivation of corn. This meant that slow animal power could be done away with on the farm altogether. The decline in the number of horses in Redwood County, is shown in the decline in the amount of acreage devoted to oats in the county. In 1925, 123,000 acres of oats were harvested in Redwood County. On average, between 1925 and 1935 108.6 acres of oats were harvested each year in the county as a whole. However, starting in 1936, oats started to decline in importance—from 100,100 acres harvested in 1936; to 87,000 in 1938; to 84,100 acres in 1942 and finally to 79,500 acres in 1944. (To be sure, oat production made a recovery back up to an average of 103,800 acres for the period of time from 1945 to 1955. However this is due to the sudden rise of the egg production in Redwood County during the Second World War. In the immediate, post war period Redwood County became the home for 500,000 chickens who were laying upwards of 100 million eggs each year.)
Bob Olson sold a great number of Model CC tractors in the first years of his dealership. In 1936, he sold a Model CC to John Krinke. This particular Model CC was fitted with rubber tires front and rear on the tractor. Donald Krinke had graduated from Lamberton High School in 1933. In 1936, Merle Krinke also graduated from Lamberton High School. Like Duane Wetter, both of the Krinke boys also headed off to college in Minneapolis. Merle entered Augsburg College and later attended the University of Minnesota just as Bob Olson had done a generation earlier. Following his higher education in Minneapolis and no doubt under the influence, to some degree, of Bob Olson, Donald Krinke sought and obtained a job as the district manager for the J.I. Case Company in the area including Redwood and neighboring counties.
However, in 1940, with war clouds looming, and with the United States involvement in the Second World War looking increasingly likely, the U.S. Congress re-instated the Selective Service draft. Merle Krinke’s number was drawn in the draft lottery and it was a very low number, suggesting that he was soon to be drafted into the military. Not waiting for the draft, Merle quit school and enlisted. Perhaps, the influence of Bob Olson caused him to enlist in the Army Air Corps. The Army Air Corps unit to which Merle was attached was guarding the Panama Canal. Thus, in 1940, well before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Both Duane Wetter and Merle Krinke were involved in the spreading world war.
On December 7, 1941, the United States suddenly became involved in the world war. Merle re-enlisted and continued his service until 1945. In April of 1944, Merle was, however, permitted a 30 day leave from his military service. During this leave he returned to Lamberton, Minnesota. He had a good reason for wanting to return home at this time. He wished to get married. In the years, that he had known the Wetter family, he was attracted by Duane’s sister, Zona. They had begun seeing each other and writing each other while Merle was away in the service. Now, in 1944, while on his 30 day leave from the Air Corp, Merle and Zona had decided to marry. Thus, on April 8, 1944, they were married. All too soon, however, Merle had to return to Panama. Only at the end of the war in September of 1945 was he allowed to come home for good and resume married life. Upon his return from the military, Merle obtained a job at the the Myhere and Nelson Implement dealership in Montevideo, Minnesota. The Myhere and Nelson dealership owned the J.I. Case Company franchise for the area around Montevideo and surrounding Chippewa County. Montevideo was located on the Minnesota River about 60 miles to the northwest of Lamberton. Merle commuted to his new job while continuing to live in Lamberton. After only a very short time at his new job, in Montevideo, Merle became aware of an opportunity to open a new Case dealership in another town.
With the lifting of the wartime restrictions on the economy of the United States a huge pent-up demand for new farm machinery was unleashed. Having been unable to purchase new farm machinery all during the Second World War, farmers now poured into local dealerships to buy up the machinery that was now becoming available. Furthermore, the prices of farm commodities had reached new highs as the North American farmer attempted to feed the armed forces which were spread around the world. Since the war, the farm machinery manufacturing companies were busy not only making the new machinery as fast as they could get re-tooled from their wartime production for the armed forces, but they were also in a rush to open as many outlets from which to sell the new machinery. Record numbers of new franchises were being sold by all the farm equipment manufacturers. At the Myhere and Nelson dealership in Montevideo, Merle Krinke heard about yet another Case franchise that was being offered to anyone that was willing to start a dealership in the small town of LeRoy, Minnesota (1940 pop. 752). LeRoy, Minnesota is located in the extreme southeastern corner of Mower County, Minnesota. Mower County is situated in the Southeastern part of the state on the Minnesota/Iowa border in fact, the town of LeRoy is located only about ½ a mile from the Iowa border. Continue reading Case Farming Part IV: The LeRoy Equipment Company→
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 would allow the engine to warm up entirely 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 before he would switch the engine over to kerosene. During the warmup the throttle would not work, but still the tractor could be backed out of the shed and hitched up to the New Idea No. 8 manure spreader while allowing the engine to warm up sufficiently to run on kerosene. (For 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.)
In the coming winter, our Palmer Township farmer would find that even after the tractor was driven to barn he needed to let the tractor run a while before switching to kerosene. However, this morning it was quite warm suggesting that today would be warm summer’s day. Accordingly, he would not be able to drive the little tractor across the yard to the barn before the engine was able to start burning the cheaper kerosene fuel.
Blue Earth County, located in south-central Minnesota, derives its name from the bluish-green color of the soil which was once used as a pigment by the native Sioux tribes in the area, long before the coming of the white man. (Warren Upham, Minnesota Geographical Names, [Minnesota Historical Society: St Paul, 1969], p. 57.) Indeed, the bluish-green tinge of the soil led the French explorer, Pierre LeSueur, to believe that the soil contained copper. After his initial exploration of the southern Minnesota area in 1695, LeSueur returned to France and made plans for another trip to the new world, this time with miners in tow who were to establish Fort L’Huillier in Blue Earth County and to commence mining the copper that was sure to be there. This expedition to the new world was mounted in 1700; however, as history reveals, no copper was ever found in Blue Earth County. Thus, Fort L’Huillier and France’sattempts at settlement of southern Minnesota came to an inglorious end.
Indeed, it was wealth of quite another sort located in the soil that attracted permanent settlement to southern Minnesota very early in the history of the State. It was the dark rich humus soil, now renowned as being some of the best soil in the world. Among the earliest settlers were four families from Scotland: David and Mary (Reid) Ogilvie; James and Hellen (Coutie) Ogilvie; Archibald and Anne Cardle; and Andrew R. and Jeanette More. They were attracted to the area by the rich soil and settled in what was to become Pilot Grove Township of Faribault County, the county immediately adjacent to Blue Earth County on the south. The Ogilvies, Mores and Cardles took up land near Weasel Lake. While James and Hellen Ogilvie took up a piece of land adjacent to the lake, David and Mary Ogilvie took up land to the north which was not adjacent to the lake. On June 5, 1867, a baby girl was born to David and Mary Ogilvie. They named her Jeanette More Ogilive, after their good friend Mrs. Andrew More. (We will meet Jeanette, or Nettie, Ogilvie as a mature woman later in this story.)
Settlement, based on agriculture, in southern Minnesota was successful beyond all expectations. Towns sprang up all over, with businesses to serve the agricultural community. One such town was Minnesota Lake, located directly on the boundary between Blue Earth and Faribault Counties. Conveniently located on the Chicago-Milwaukee and St Paul railroad line, Minnesota Lake was lopsidedly settled, with more of the village in Faribault County than in Blue Earth County. In 1890, the population of Minnesota Lake was 340. Ten years later, the population of the town had grown to 518. In 1877, Gustavus A. Beske immigrated with his parents from Germany when he was only 8 years and settled in Minnesota Lake, Minnesota. In 1902, Gus, or G.A., Beske, Andrew Petrok, and Ben Engibrittson bought a hardware business from the estate of C.W. Appley. The Appley Hardware store had been financed by Peter Kremer, the largest holder of stock in the 1st National Bank in Minnesota Lake. The three new partners, however, were able to continue this financing of the hardware store under their names. In 1904, the hardware store began selling farm machinery manufactured by many different companies.
After a few years, G.A. sold his interest in the hardware store to his partners and went to work for the International Harvester Company, traveling far from Minnesota Lake. Ultimately, however, he found that life on the road did not compare with the small town life of Minnesota Lake. Upon the untimely death of Ben Engibrittson on April 6, 1909, G.A. took the opportunity to return to his home town and bought out Ben Engibrittson’s share of the old hardware store. He also met Lydia Fischer, whom he married on June 31, 1909.
Once back in the hardware business, it became clear that G.A. Beske was the real force behind the partnership. It was G.A. Beske’s true element. He was a natural at sales. It was said that G.A. could sell anything, just by talking to people. Eventually, Andrew Petrok also sold his share of the hardware business to G.A. Beske Hardware truly fit the tradition of the general store in American folklore. It served as a place where the men of Minnesota Lake would gather daily around the coal-burning, pot-bellied stove in the middle of the store and converse. The Beske Hardware also began selling New Idea farm equipment and Ford cars.
In 1912, two significant events happened–G.A. and Lydia had a son, Woodrow, and G.A., as sole proprietor, undertook a franchise agreement to sell John Deere equipment out of the hardware store. So it was, that one of the first John Deere dealerships in the state of Minnesota was established in the tiny community of Minnesota Lake. A farm machinery dealership was an enterprize with great promise in 1912, but there were also great risks, as the next 80-year history of Beske Implement would show. Continue reading Beske Implement of Minnesota Lake, Minnesota→
As published in the January/February 2000 issue of
Belt Pulley Magazine
In the second article on David Bradley farm machinery, two of the most popular and recognizable products were discussed–the farm wagon and the garden tractor. However, the David Bradley line, as advertised in the Spring and Fall issues of the Sears and Roebuck catalogue every year, included tractor loaders, field tillage equipment, and even harvesting equipment such as its one-row, semi-mounted corn picker. This installment will feature two lesser known, but still popular, items–the tractor plow and the manure spreader.
As pointed out in the first article, the David Bradley Company began its plow production with the famous horse-drawn Clipper plow. With the dawn of the tractor era, however, David Bradley introduced tractor-drawn plows. In the Spring 1936 Sears catalogue, a 2-bottom plow with 12″ bottoms was advertised for $69.95, another 2-bottom plow with 14″ bottoms for $71.85, and a 3-bottom plow with 14″ bottoms for $105.00. These steel-wheeled plows were painted David Bradley red with lime-green wheels to match the rest of the David Bradley line of farm machinery.
During the 1930s, Ned Healy placed an order for a particular David Bradley 2-bottom plow; consequently, a steel-wheeled David Bradley 2-bottom plow with 14-inch bottoms was delivered to the Sears store in Mankato, Minnesota, the county seat of Blue Earth County. Ned Healy, who operated a farm south of Mapleton, Minnesota, farmed with a Graham-Bradley 32-hp tractor and, later, a Massey-Harris 101. Both of these tractors had very fast road speeds for their time (19.8 mph. and 17.85 mph., respectively). (C.H. Wendel, Nebraska Tractor Tests [Crestline Publishing Company: Sarasota, FL 1985] pp. 110 and 137.) Ned not only farmed his own farm, he also helped his brother, Horace Healy, on another farm just down the road. Both the Graham and the Massey Harris tractors, with their rubber tires and very fast road speeds, were well-suited for the Healy farming operation which involved frequent transfers of machinery from farm to farm. Consequently, when the new David-Bradley plow arrived on the Ned Healy farm, its distinctive green colored steel wheels were soon cut down to be fitted with rims for rubber tires.
In the same Mapleton, Minnesota, neighborhood lived the Howard Hanks family. As noted in a previous article, the Hanks family once rented the John T. Goff farm also just south of Mapleton, Minnesota. (“The Family’s First Tractor,” Antique Power, May/June 1994, Vol. 6, No. 4, pp. 22-24.) Now, in early 1944, the Hanks family began negotiations to purchase a farm of their own in Beaver township, Fillmore County, near LeRoy, Minnesota. This 400-acre farm was owned by Albert E. Rehwaldt of Good Thunder, Minnesota, but had always been known as the Bagan farm. Included in the terms of the purchase was a 1942 Farmall H accompanied by a 2-row cultivator. This would be the Hanks family’s first row crop tractor. (See “The Wartime Farmall H,” Belt Pulley, July/August 1994, Vol. 7, No. 4, pp. 13-17.) The family was finally to be settling on their own land! Thus, in order to get an early start on the 1945 growing season, they drove the 100 miles to the Bagan farm in the late summer of 1944 to do some fall plowing, bringing with them their 1931 John Deere D and their 3-bottom John Deere No. 82 plow to do this. They also borrowed Ned Healy’s David Bradley plow to pull behind the Farmall H which was already at the Bagan farm. Because the renter of the Bagan farm, Roy Green and his family, was still in the house, the Hanks family camped out in a small chicken brooder house. Nevertheless, during the ten days they were there, the family completed the fall plowing and did some work on the house before they had to return to the Goff farm for the soybean harvest. They left all of the machinery they had brought with them on the Bagan farm until the following spring, when they would return to plant the crop, and went back to the Goff farm with only Ned Healy’s plow aboard the truck. The little David Bradley had performed well during the short time on the Bagan farm and had helped the Hanks family get a jump on the 1945 crop season.
Also during the 1930s, another David Bradley 2-bottom plow was delivered to the Sears store in Austin, Minnesota, the county seat of Mower County, for a customer by the name of Martin Hetletvedt. Martin farmed a 160-acre farm north of the “Old Town” area of LeRoy, Minnesota. (Most of his farm has now been merged into the Lake Louise State Park located in the Old Town area.)
LeRoy was originally settled at the site of a sawmill located next to a dam on the Upper Iowa River. The dam and sawmill were built in 1853. By 1855, a settlement had grown up around the sawmill, and by 1858, the town of LeRoy was platted there. However, as white pine from northern Minnesota became more readily available for building material, the sawing of local hardwoods became unprofitable and the sawmill was converted to a grist mill in 1858. In 1867, when the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railroad (later the Milwaukee Road) came through the area, it by-passed the settlement of LeRoy, and the railroad station built by the railroad to serve the town was actually located about a mile southeast of LeRoy. Consequently, over the next several years, the people of whole town of LeRoy resettled to the area around the railroad station, and in 1874, LeRoy was incorporated at the new location. Gradually, the settlement around the grist mill declined and the area became known as “Old Town.” The grist mill itself also closed up, as better methods of flour milling were developed.
As published in the September/October 1999 issue of
Belt Pulley Magazine
The story of John Deere crossing the Allegheny Mountains in 1836 from Rutland, Vermont, to settle in Grand Detour, Illinois, to develop the first steel-bottom plow is well-known. (C.H. Wendel, Encyclopedia of American Tractors [1979 Crestline Publishing: Sarasota, Fla.] p. 82.) Likewise, the story of James Oliver developing the chilled steel process for plow bottom manufacturing in 1855 is also well-known. (C.H. Wendel Oliver/Hart-Parr [1993 Motorbooks International Publishing: Osceola, Wis.] p. 107.) The stories of these two men have been widely disseminated as part of the folklore of farm equipment companies which would later bear their names. Somewhat less well known, however, is the story of David Bradley and his plow.
Long before James Oliver developed the first chilled steel plow in 1855–and even before John Deere invented the steel-bottomed plow in 1836–a young pioneer and foundryman in Chicago by the name of David Bradley invented the first cast iron plow which would scour the soils of the Midwest. It was David Bradley who first answered the need for a plow which would turn its own furrow and scour the sticky, heavy, virgin prairie of the Middle West with the invention of his chilled cast iron plow in 1832. David Bradley was the first man ever to bring pig iron west of the Allegheny Mountains for use in making his famous chilled cast iron plow.
David Bradley was born on November 8, 1811, in Groton, New York. He worked for a while at a plow business in Syracuse, New York. In 1832, he left the east to traveled over the Allegheny Mountains, eventually settling in Chicago in 1835. Operating out of a foundry and machine shop, he perfected the chilled cast iron plow called the “Garden City Clipper.” In the late 1830s, together with Conrad Furst, he incorporated the business as Furst and Bradley Manufacturing Company. The company produced plows and other agricultural implements. Over the years, David Bradley’s son, J. Harley Bradley, gradually took over operations of the company from his father. Under the leadership of J. Harley, the company began a period of expansion. During this period, the Bradley family also bought out the stock owned by Conrad Furst and the company became the David Bradley Manufacturing Company, hereinafter known as the David Bradley Company. From its plant facilities at Des Plaines and Fulton Streets in Chicago, the company answered the growing need for agricultural equipment in the Midwest and enjoyed success from the very beginning, producing plows, horse-drawn corn planters, cultivators and other farm implements. This success in the 1890s was spurred by two factors: location and favorable publicity. Continue reading The David Bradley Company (Part I)→
Belt Pulley Magazine Articles by Brian Wayne Wells