Farming in Illinois with the Coop Model E-3 Tractor
(Part 3 of 3 Parts): The Owatonna Manufacturing Company
Brian Wayne Wells
This article remains under construction. From time to time new blocks of text will appear or present blocks of text will be corrected.
Throughout the history of North American agriculture, farmers have been attempting to solve their own problems. Farmers have repeatedly joined together in societies and organization. As noted in a previous article (See the article on this blog entitled “Farming in Illinois with the Model E-3 Tractor Part 1 of 3 Parts: The Farmers Union”) some farmers banded together in organizations like the Grange and the National Farmers Union to 1.) boost the money that farmers received for their crops through cooperative marketing of their crops and 2.) save money through cooperative purchasing of their farm equipment, fuels and other products used in raising and harvesting those crops on the farm.
Local cooperatives engaged in the cooperative marketing of farm crops were usually centered around cooperatively-owned creameries and grain elevators located in small towns across the vast agricultural areas of the United States–the Midwest, the Great Plains, the agricultural South and the Central and Imperial Valleys of California. As time went by, and the local cooperatives began to expand into the cooperative purchasing of products used by farmers, the local cooperatives began to build or purchase their own lumberyards, gasoline service stations and farm implement dealerships which began to sell cooperatively purchased products to their farmer members at reduced prices.
One member of the National Farmers Union who was currently farming in Sterling Township in Whiteside County, Illinois. He was a “true believer” in the value of the cooperatives to the small farmer and tried at all instances to purchase all his supplies from local Cooperatives. Especially, those cooperatives that were connected with the Farmers Union. Our Sterling Township farmer had moved to this farm in Illinois in 1945 from his father’s farm located near Baraboo, Wisconsin. Due to a lack of any local cooperative that sold “COOP” farm machinery and farm tractors, our Sterling Township farmer tended to buy his farm machinery at the Sauk County Farmers Union Cooperative in Baraboo, Wisconsin.
However, there was some farm machinery that was not available through the COOP line of the farm implements marketed by the National Farmers Union. For these pieces of farm machinery, our Sterling Township farmer was required to turn to other private company suppliers. As noted previously, he had purchased an 8-foot hydraulically controlled trailing double disc from a local dealer in Sterling, Illinois. This disc had been manufactured by the Kewanee Manufacturing Company of Kewanee, Illinois. Kewanee, Illinois was situated in Henry County, Illinois, which was located immediately to the south of Whiteside County.
Even though our Sterling Township farmer had been impressed by the hydraulically controlled transportable disc produced by the Kewanee Manufacturing Company, he was not so impressed by the portable farm elevator that was also produced by the Kewaunee Company.
The Kewaunee Company had been making portable farm elevators since 1922 when the company purchased a line of portable farm elevators from the Hart Grain Weigher Company of Peoria, Illinois. At this time, the portable elevator made by Kewaunee was a composit of wood and steel construction. In 1926, Kewaunee introduced their “all-steel” elevator. In anticipation of the production the new farm Kewaunee elevator the Kewaunee Company had moved out of its old facilities to a new concrete block building locate on the corner of Park and Commercial Streets in Kewaunee in 1922. However, sales of the new portable Kewaunee farm elevator grew so rapidly that the Company was forced to move to still larger facilities in 1927.
During the first few years on the new farm in Sterling Township, Illinois, our Sterling Township farmer had been forced to borrow a portable elevator from his neighbors merely to move the oat crop from the wagon to his granary and to move the ear corn from the wagons which were coming into the yard to the corn crib. to the to
In 1888 the OwatonnaManufacturing Company was founded in Owatonna, Mnnesota. Farmers soon recognized the OMC paint colors of red and lime green on the grain drills, seeders and balers. In 1928, OMC began making portable farm elevators in 1928 after purchasing the Diedrick Company. Indeed, for a while OMC continued the production of the Diedrich (even under the Diedrich name)
Farmers soon recognized the OMC paint colors of red and lime green on the grain drills, seeders. elevators and and balers.
In 1965, OMC introduced their first “Mustang” skid steer.
In 1997 Mustang was separated from OMC and sold to the Gehl Corporation
OMC, itself was sold to the Manitou Americas Inc. corporation. as being
As the mid-1950s went on, the Cockshutt faced dwindling Meanwhile, the National Farm Machinery Cooperative started losing market share in the farm tractor and machinery market as a result Cockshutt shares return egt. arm
Eventually, our Sterling township farmer traded the COOP Model E-3 tractor, bearing the serial No. 31591, in on the purchase of a newer more powerful Cockshutt tractor. No. 31591 was sold from one owner to another when the tractor ended up in the hands of an owner than sought to made the Model E-3 into a tractor that could be used in professional antique tractor pulling contests. Accordingly, the hydraulics which had been installed on No. 31591 by our Sterling Township farmer under the seat on the operator’s platform. At the same time the tractor was repainted with the red and cream colors to make No. 31591 look like a post-1955 Cockshutt.
Farming in Illinois with the Coop Model E-3 Tractor
(Part 2 of 3 Parts): The Kewaunee Company
Brian Wayne Wells
This Article remains under construction. Periodically blocks of text will appear and/or be corrected in the process of construction.
As noted earlier, the 1951 Coop Model E-3 tractor that had been purchased by our Sterling Township farmer bore the serial number #31591. (See the prior article in this this series called “Farming with the Coop Model E-3 Tractor in Illinois” contained at this website. ) Although, Sterling Township was located in Whiteside County in the state of Illinois, No. #31591 was actually purchased from the Sauk County Farmers Union Cooperative store in Baraboo, Wisconsin. Baraboo, Wisconsin, was actually, his childhood home. He had been born and raised on a farm in Troy Town in Sauk County. Wisconsin. Indeed his father and younger brother still lived on and worked the “home farm” in Troy Town.
Our Sterling Township farmer had been raised in a “Farmers Union” family and he had a strong loyalty to the National Farmers Union ideal of banning together to sell their crops to obtain the best price for their crops and banning together to purchase the products that farm families needed on the farm in order to obtain the lowest price possible for their necessary expenses. However, there were no Farmers Union stores anywhere in his area of Illinois. Indeed he had been unable to find any Farmers Union Stores anywhere in entire state of Illinois. So he continued to go out of his way to shop at the Sauk County Farmers Union store in his childhood home town of Baraboo, Wisconsin. He, usually stocked up on purchases at the store whenever he and his wife travelled back to Baraboo to visit his family. In this way he would still get his annual Farmers Union dividend for the goods that he purchased from the store in Baraboo just as he always had always done. Indeed, he anticipated that his purchase of No. #31591 in 1951 would yield a rather substantial dividend in 1952.
The Farmers Union ideal had two sides. Banning together in the Farmers Union allowed the farmers to purchase their own granaries to control the sale of their crop in order to get the best price. This was the “selling side” of the Farmers Union.
As noted in the first article in this series noted above, there was also a “buying side” of the Farmers Union. Farmers hoped to also ban together to keep their expenses as low as possible. This is where stores like the Farmers Union store in Baraboo, Wisconsin, sold a whole line of gasoline, grease and oil products at the lowest price possible for their farmer/members to use in their farming operations.
In order to expand the buying side of the Farmers Union operation, local Farmefrs Union cooperatives across the United States, interested in making inexpensive farm machinery available to their members came together, in 1942, to form the National Farm Machinery Cooperative.
The National Farm Machinery Cooperative or NFMC, set a goal of providing a “full line” of farm machinery for cooperative farm members all across the United States. NFMC envisioned selling a full line of farm machinery under the COOP name in the United States through a large number of local farm cooperatives.
Prior to the founding of NFMC, various ad hoc groups of cooperatives across the nation had already developed a close contractual relationship with the Famous Ohio Cultivator Company of Bellevue, Ohio, by purchasing farm machinery and selling the machinery to their members. These individual “supply” contracts with Ohio Cultivator had allowed these ad hoc groups of cooperatives to purchase the machinery in bulk at low prices and to pass the savings along to their member/farmers in the form of initial low retail prices and in the form of annual dividends to those members. Formation of National Farmers Cooperative had the effect of broadening and streamlining this operation. This meant even more savings that could be passed on to Farmers Union members.
However, in 1943, the NFMC had an opportunity to actually purchase the whole of the Ohio Cultivator Company. This purchase promised even more streamlining and savings in the sales of farm machinery to NFMC member/customers.
Although Ohio Cultivator had begun its life as a manufacturer of the first successful horse drawn row crop cultivator in which the farmer could actually ride the cultivator rather than walk along behind the cultivator. This riding cultivator immediately became the best seller and made Ohio Cultivator a leading manufacturer of farm machinery. The
Cultivator Company used the profits to expand the number farm implements that they offered to the farming public. However in this time of tractor power farming, Ohio Cultivator was not a “full line” manufacturer of farm machinery. To be a “full line” retailer of farm machinery, a NFMC needed to have a farm tractor available for sale under the COOP name. The acquisition of Ohio Cultivator did not solve this problem. (Although about a decade and a half prior, the aquisition of Ohio Cultivator might have solved the problem by bringing a tractor to NFMC. In 1929, Ohio Cultivator had some sort of relationship with the General Tractor Company of Cleveland, Ohio. While this relationship lasted Ohio Cultivator was a “full line” provider of farm equipment including a farm tractor. Alas, however, General Tractor went out of business and disappeared from the farm machinery market.
Before the birth of NFMC, various groups of cooperatives across the United Stat
All over the state of Illinois, small companies had sprung up that were manufacturing new and improved farm implements and machinery. One of these small companies was located just south of our Sterling Township farmer’s home in Whiteside County, Illinois. This was Kewanee Machinery and Conveyor Company located in Henry County which bordered Whiteside County on the south. Henry County contained the small manufacturingcity of Kewanee, Illinois. This was where the Kewanee Company was based and from which the Company derived its name. (Thanks to the July 28, 1986 article in the “Around Town” column of the Kewanee Courier-Star newspaper written by David Clarke and the files at the Kewanee Historical Society, we have a good outline of the history of the Kewanee Machinery and Conveyor Company.)
The Kewanee Company had actually begun its existence as the Kewanee Corn Hanger Company–after its first successful product–the seed corn drying hanger. In the years prior to the production of hybrid seed corn, farmers used to walk through their corn fields, looking for the best ears of corn that could be saved to be used for seed corn in the next spring. By saving only the best ears the farmer was attempting to use the process of artificial selection to improve his corn crop. Wire and string were used to tie these special ears of seed corn together and hang them up inside the granary out of the winter elements and suspended away from the reach of rodents. In 1911, George Hurff and Benjamin Franklin (called B. F.) Baker submitted an application to the U.S. Patent Office for a corn hanger which could be used to dry these selected ears of seed corn.
In the next year, 1912, Wallace Glidden, Hurff’s son-in-law incorporated a company which would market the corn hangers to the farming public. This company was called the Kewaunee Corn Hanger Company and was based at 121 Loomis Street in Kewanee. The Kewanee Company was a family business. Wallace Glidden had been employed at the Kewanee Boiler Company, where he had met Benjamin Franklin Baker (popularly known as B.F. Baker), who was the boss of the company. It was B. F. Baker that provided most of the financing for the new business. Wallace Glidden’s own younger brother Raymond Boyd Glidden, become the manager of the Kewaunee Corn Hanger Company. In 1916, the name of the company was changed to the Kewaunee Implement Company.
The corn drying hanger proved to be a great sales success. Based the success of this product, the Company was able to expand into the manufacture of other products for the small diversified farm of the Midwestern United States. However, the company expanded into the manufacture of other products for the small farm. By 1916, the Company was making chicken waterers and hog oilers
Leonard W. Glidden was the father of Wallace and Raymond Glidden. In 1900, Leonard had brought his entire family of three sons and two daughters from Olive, Ohio to Henry County, Illinois where he started a new hardware and farm implement store in the the small town of Galva, Illinois. Galva was a small town near the City of Kewaunee, Illinois. was Leonard influenced the direction of the In 1930, the name of the company was changed to the Kewaunee Machinery and Conveyor Company. Raymond worked for a longer time in his father’s store and, thus, became impressed by the future promise of farm machinery. Accordingly, when he joined his brother, Wallace, and B. F. Baker in forming and operating the Kewaunee Corn Hanger Company, he was already predisposed toward directing the future of the Kewaunee Implement Company toward manufacturing even more farm implements.
Wallace tragically died in 1921 at the young age of 41 years. Raymond took up the reins in the place of his older brother. In 1922 the Kewaunee ImplementCompany purchased a corporate entity from the Hart Grain Weigher Company of Peoria, Illinois. This was be a significant move made by the Company which would be important for the future of the Company. (More on the story of the elevators manufactured by the Kewaunee Implement Company is carried in a later article on this website called “Farming in Illinois with a COOP Model E-3 Tractor (Part III): The Owatonna Manufacturing Company.”)
In the post-World War II era, a high school Agricultural Education instructor from Rochelle, Illinois, by the name of Hugh Cooper, had been working on a new kind of double disc. In 1950, this new disc was shown to the management of the Kewanee Company. The disc was a great improvement over most tillage implements of the past. The double disc was mounted on rubber-tired wheels. These wheels could be raised or lowered by a hydraulic cylinder with was to be activated by the driver on the tractor seat.. When the wheels were lowered the entire double disc would be raised entirely off the ground and the disc could be transported easily and rapidly on the rubber tires from field to field or even over the public roads. The Kewaunee Machinery and Conveyor Company purchased the design of this disc and began production of the disc in sizes from 7-foot 11 inches to 13 feet 4 inches in width.
Our Sterling Township farmer had purchased his 1951 COOP Model E-3 tractor bearing the serial number 31591 without the optional hydraulic package installed.. As noted in the earlier article in this series (“Farming with a COOP Model E-3 Tractor in Illinois [Part I]: Farmers Union,” the COOP Model E-3 tractor was really a Cockshutt farm tractor manufactured by the Cockshutt Farm Equipment Company in Bradford, Ontario, Canada.
Prior to 1946, the Cockshutt Company had confined itselt largely to the Canadian market.
However, in 1942 local cooperatives with in the United States, interested in making inexpensive farm machinery available to their members, came together to form the National Farm Machinery Cooperative. The National Farm Machinery Cooperative or NFMC, set a goal of providing a “full line” of farm machinery for cooperative farm members all across the United States. NFMC envisioned selling farm machinery under the COOP name in the United States through a large number of local farm cooperatives.
Toward this end NFMC had developed a close relationship with the Ohio Cultivator Company and in 1943, NFMC would actually purchase the Ohio Cultivator Company. Although Ohio Cultivator had begun its life as a manufacturer of the first successful horse drawn row crop cultivator in which the farmer could ride the cultivator rather than walk along behind the cultivator, by 1943, Ohio Cultivator had become the manufactuer However, to be a “full line” retailer of farm machinery, NFMC needed to have a farm tractor available for sale under the COOP name. The aquisition of Ohio Cultivator did not solve this problem. (Although about a decade and a half prior, the aquisition of Ohio Cultivator might have solved the problem by bringing a tractor to NFMC. In 1929, Ohio Cultivator had some sort of relationship with the General Tractor Company of Cleveland, Ohio. While this relationship lasted Ohio Cultivator was a “full line” provider of farm equipment including a farm tractor. Alas, however, General Tractor went out of business and disappeared from the farm machinery market.
Before the birth of NFMC, various groups of cooperatives across the United States had signed contracts at various times with the Allis-Chalmers Company of West Allis, Wisconsin , the Oliver Farm Equipment Company of Charles City, Iowa, the Huber Company and finally the Duplex Machinery Company of Battle Creek, Michigan, to provide tractors which could be sold under the COOP name. However, the last contractual relationship with Duplex for a tricycle-style row crop tractor–the COOP Model 1– had ended in 1938. The story of these earlier contracual relationships with tractor companies to aquire tractors to be sold under the COOP name. Accordingly, the local cooperatives of the United States once again found themselves without a tractor to tractor to sell to their members which bore the name COOP on the hood.
Thus, as early as 1944, NFMC began negotiating with the Cockshutt Farm Equipment Company of Brantford, Ontario, Canada to once again resolve this lack of a farm tractor for the COOP line of farm equipment. After the war ended and the wartime restrictions on the production of civilian farm machinery were lifted both in Canada and the United States a contract was signed between NFMC and Cockshutt which suddenly made the National Farm Machinery Cooperative, NFMC, the primary United States outlet for the line of Cockshutt farm machinery and the new and very modern Cockshutt Model 30 tractor. The Model 30 was scheduled to go into production at the Cockshutt Works in Brantford, Ontario. (Under the terms of this contract NFMC became the predominent retailer of but was not the only retail outlet for Cockshutt tractors in the United States. A small number of Cockshutt 30 tractors were sold under the “Farmcrest” label by the small Minneapolis, Minnesota headquartered Gambles/Skogmo chain of hardware stores. As noted in the earlier article cited above also starting in 1947.)
From Cockshutt’s point of view, the deal concluded with the NFMC meant that Cockshutt would be able to break into the United States market with a corporate entity that already had an extensive retail dealership network. This was the major benefit to the Cockshutt Farm Equipment Company would recieve from the deal.
On the NFMC side of the ledger, the deal with Cockshutt fit the long range goal of the NFMC to become a “full line” farm equipment seller. As noted in an earlier article on this website–“Farming in Illinois with a COOP Model E-3 Tractor (Part I): The Farmers Union,”–the Farmers Union having greatly expanded their farmer-member’s ability to sell their own grain and corn at the best price available by increasing the network of local cooperative grain elevators in various small towns across the upper Midwest and the Great Plains of the United States, the Farmers Union now sought to build up the “buyer” side of their local cooperatives by increasing the amount of farm implements and supplies that the farmer could buy from their local cooperatives and be able to pay the lowest price for those implements and supplies. .
Toward this goal, at the end of 1943, in the middle of the Second World War, the NFMC bought the Ohio Cultivator Company of Bellevue, Ohio. By this purchase, the NFMC immediately broadened its line of farm implements in the Ohio Cultivator Company line. (A 2004 article written by Sam Moore and published in the April 2004 Farm Collector Magazine in April of 2004., provides us a short history of the Ohio Cutlivator Company. The Ohio Cultivator Company was founded by Harlow Case Stahl. Born on February 12, 1849 near, Ballville in Sandusky County Ohio. Harlow Stahl had married Annie Charlotte Mitchell on October 21, 1874. On his parents farm, Harlow grew tired of endlessly trudging along behind the simple one or two shovel horse-drawn cultivators which were common at the time. In 1878, Harlow worked together with a local backsmith in Freemont to develop a horse-drawn cultivator which had wheels which straddled a single row of corn with shovels on both sides of the row and had a seat at the rear which allowed the farmer to ride as he cultivated his corn. This new cultivator was called the “Fremont cultivator.” The Fremont cultivator was credited as being the first successfully designed riding cultivator which was successfully marketed.
The cultivator was a success from the very beginning. In the very first year, 87 Fremont cultivators were built and 81 of these were sold to local farmers. By 1882, sales had risen to 1,000 culivators in one year. In 1885, Stahl moved his cultivator factor to a larger factory located in Bellevue, Ohio. At about this the business was incorporated as the the “Ohio Cultivator Company.”
During the “good times” of the 1880s Harlow Stahl’s company made sure to pay all its bill to suppliers on time. Accordingly, they built up a good reputation with the suppliers for dependability. This reputation set the Ohio Cultivator Company in good stead when in the a period of tightening credit occurred in 1892 and 1893. The economic condition in the United States grew worse until it became a full blown economic Panic in 1893. The Panic of 1893 resulted in the bankrupcies of major companies on Wall Street. Most United States businesses were unable to get loans to carry on manufacturing. Accordingly, most of these corporations had to lay off workers or cease production altogether. However, the suppliers of raw materials trusted the Ohio Cultivator Company because of their past record of reliability in paying their bills and the Company was able to continue production of cultivators. Therefore, when the economy began to recover again in 1895 and 1896 and farmers were ready to start buying machinery again, the Ohio Cultivator Company was well-positioned with a large inventory of horse-drawn cultivators to sell to them.
This gave the Ohio Cultivator Company an advantage over competitors in the farm machinery market. Harlow Stahl exploited this advantage by expanding his line of farm machinery beyond the horse-drawn cultivator. In 1896 he purcased a factory of a company in Dayton that had been making discs. In 1899, he purchased the struggling Bellevue Plow Company. The Ohio Cultivator Company also absorbed the Ohio Hay Press Company in 1900 and the Bissell Plow Company in 1905. Another agricultural business recession struck the United States economy in 1907-1908. Nonetheless, through this recession the work force of the Ohio Cultivator Company remained steady at 300 employees.
In 1923, Stahl led his company in making an important acquisition of the D.M. Sechler Implement and Carriage from Moline, Illinois and its Black Hawk line of corn planters and grain drills. More than the implements of this company it would prove to be the name “Black Hawk” that would prove to be the most enduring asset that would help the Ohio Cultivator Company and after 1943 would the NFMC and later still would help the Cockshutt Company.
and would the proposed the offered a hydraulic kit that could be retrofitted onto the Cockshutt Model 30. Once again this hydraulic kit was offered for sale in the United States by the network of farmers cooperatives.
A new capability required for use with the new eight-foot trailing- style double Kewaunee disc that he had just purchased from his local dealership in He knew that the Cockshutt Farm Equipment Company offered a remote hydraulic system as an option for all new Model 30 tractors that were manufactured in Bradford, Ontario, Canada. The various Farmers Union affiliated cooperatives who are selling the Cockshutt Model 30 in the United States under the designation–“Coop” Model E-3, were now offering an “add-on” hydraulic system for E-3 tractors like No. 31591 which had originally been sold without hydraulics.
This add-on hydraulic system was composed of a live-hydraulic pump which was to be mounted to the oil pump at the front of the four-cylinder Buda engine, and the main hydraulic unit located under the operator’s seat. Through this two-part system, the CockshuttFarm Equipment Company not only offered a remote hydraulic system which operated through hoses that were connected to the two “Parker-Pioneer” hydraulic connectors protruding from the rear of the main hydraulic unit under the seat of the tractor. There were two Parker-Pioneer hydraulic connectors were part of the “remote” 2-way hydraulic system. The remote system powered a hydraulic cylinder on a piece of trailing or pulled-type of farm equipment.but also t only a one of the leading farm equipment companies to he add-on hydraulic kit attempts to provide two hydraulic functions. First, the main hydraulic unit located under the operator’s seat contains a rock shaft that protruded out either side of the main hydraulic unit. The Cockshutt hydraulic add-on kit came complete with two lift arms which were attached to a round shaft that was installed on the drawbar under the power take-off shaft on the tractor. A pair of rock shaft lift arms and two adjustable lift links were included in the kit. The lift arms were also connected to the ends of the rock shaft. This provided the power for the three-point hitch.
Two adjustable lift links were connected to the rock shaft lift arms with the lift arms attached to the drawbar. The rock shaft was powered by hydraulic oil under pressure from the hydraulic pump. The rock shaft would turn and pull up the lift arms. These two lift arms formed two points of the three point hitch and were the power of the three-point system. A top link attached to the rear of the tractor above the power take off shaft formed the third point of the three-point hitch.
However, there were also two “Parker-Pioneer” hydraulic connectors protruding from the rear of the main hydraulic unit under the seat of the tractor. These Parker-Pioneer hydraulic connectors were part of the “remote” 2-way hydraulic system. The remote system powered a hydraulic cylinder on a piece of trailing or pulled-type of farm equipment.
This is the system in which our Sterling Township farmer was most interested. He did not know how he would ever use the three-point hitch, since there were few three-point hitch implements on the market in 1952. the early 1950as There he ufor passing hydraulic oil from the pump on the tractor to a remote hyd nthe gdeveloped by sw stm
all the parts that on would be needed to attach the Cockshutt three-point hitch to the tractor. .
the cast-iron axle housings located on either side of the tractor are attached to the cast-iron power train housing by six 5/8 inch bolts. The retrofit hydraulic kit sold by the Farmers Union cooperative contained special longer bolts which were to replace four of these original bolts on the top of the axle housing. These four bolts on each axle housing were used to hold the main hydraulic unit under the operator’s seat. However, because these bolts were located under the running boards on the operator’s platform, our Sterling Township farmer needed to have the thick sheet metal running boards attached to the side of the power train housing trimmed with a blow torch to allow the main hydraulic unit to be properly attached to the bolts on top of the axle housing. The main hydraulic unit was fitted with a rock shaft.
ide of the unit under the seat was attached to the tractor by four of th eight bolts which bolts on the top of the Two hoses connected the pumereservoir and with two hoses which connect front of the engine on the
sunder the under the purchased in rs like tch he had aAccordingly,
the s s Although, Cockshutt This traqctorwas a
Throughout the history of North American agriculture, farENGmers have been attemnship pting to solve their own problems. Farmers have repeatedly joined together in societies and organi
THIS ARTICLE REMAINS UNDER CONSTRUCTION. PERIODICALLY ADDITIONS WILL BE MADE TO THE ARTICLE. WHEN THE ARTICLE IS COMPLETE THIS PARTICULAR MESSAGE WILL DISAPPEAR.
Throughout the history of North American agriculture, farmers have been attempting to solve their own problems. Farmers have repeatedly joined together in societies and organizations to protect their common economic and political well being. In the United States, one of these attempts of farmers to band together to solve their problems occurred in 1867 with the formation of the National Grange of the Society of the Patrons of Husbandry (or more simply “the Grange). The Grange was formed in the state of Maine in 1867. Following the initial founding of the National Grange, local chapters of the Grange Society sprang up all across the northern rural areas of the nation. At first, Grange meetings were merely social events—community dinners and dances. This was an attempt to solve the problem of loneliness or isolation facing many farm families. However, soon the Grange took a more serious bent and began to protest the political and economic problems faced by farmers.
Chief among the concerns of the Grangers was the exploitation of farmers by private grain elevators and the railroad. Usually the local privately-owned grain elevators exercised a near monopoly over the prices that local farmers received for their crops. Often times this price was much lower than the farmer might have received if some competition in the market had been available to the local farmer. However, such competition was usually not readily available to the farmers. Usually there was only a single grain elevator in each local town. To find competing elevators the farmer would have to carry his grain to more distant elevators. Shipping their products to more distant markets was one means by which the farmers might find a higher price for their farm products. Railroads, the primary method of shipping to those distant markets, but usually railroads also had a monopoly over shipping from local small towns. Usually there was only one railroad in each small town. Thus, railroads could charge what ever they wanted for shipping the farmer’s grain. So railroads, along with grain elevators became the targets of farm protest movements.
The individual farmer felt himself being squeezed between the twin monopoly powers of the railroads and their local privately-owned grain elevators. Accordingly, the political program of the Grange developed into a strong protest against monopolistic price-setting powers of both the railroads and the privately-owned grain elevators. The State of Illinois, reacting to protest agitation on the part of the Grange, passed legislation on April 25, 1871 which required the appropriate state to regulate the rates that local privately-owned grain elevators charged farmers for their services. Regulations for the storage of grain by privately-owned grain elevators were promulgated in January of 1872. In June of 1872, a group of elevators including the Munn & Scott grain elevator of Chicago, Illinois, were sued by the State of Illinois for a violation of these regulations regarding terms and rates of grain storage charged. Munn & Scott appealed the case to the United States Supreme Court to test the constitutionality of the Illinois statute allowing the regulation of grain elevators. This case became the landmark case called Munn v. Illinois, (94 U. S. 113 ). The Grange joined the State of Illinois, in the case. The case was decided by the United States Supreme Court in 1877. This decision upheld the States of Illinois’ right to regulate the rates that grain elevators could charge for the services they rendered. (More broadly, however, the Munn decision recognized the constitutionality of any state government to regulate any private corporations operating within its boundaries. As such, Munn v. Illinois became the foundation of many areas of law including the state’s right to prevent discrimination against people based on race, sex, age or etc.)
The Grange was limited in geographical scope to the northern states of the nation. In the south, the National Farmers Alliance was the most popular farm protest group. Formed in 1876 in Lampasas, Texas, the National Farmers Alliance was political from the start. The Alliance agreed with the Grange in demanding restrictions on the monopolistic power of the railroads. However, whereas northern farmers protested against the monopoly power of grain elevators to set prices, southern farmers had the same complaints against the monopoly power of cotton brokers, banks and local merchants under the crop-lien system of farming. Under the crop-lein system, local merchants and bankers would loan money, seed and equipment to farmers before spring planting. Collateral on this loan was a lien on the expected crop to be harvested in the fall. Since cotton was the only crop that paid well enough to support the principal and interest on these loans, the merchants and bankers required that only cotton be planted by the farmer. Thus the farmer’s fortunes rose and fell economically, each year, on a single crop—cotton. Thus, under the crop-lien system, the farmer had no ability to diversify his crops to protect himself economically from the risk of a bad cotton price in a particular year. If cotton crop prices failed, the farmer would still have to make payments on the loan and the interest charges on that loan continued to pile up.
State government regulation of monopoly power provided some protection from certain unscrupulous actions taken against the farmer, however, farmers eventually began think about working together to market their farm products. The idea was that all the farmers of a given community would be a member of the organization, or cooperative. In the north, this meant that the farmers would own their own grain elevator. They would all become shareholders in this elevator. The farmers would meet once a year in a shareholders meeting and elect a board of directors to operate the cooperative elevator. The board of directors, in turn, would hire all the officers needed to handle the day-to-day affairs of the cooperative elevator.
In the 1890s many of these farmer-owned cooperatives sprang up across the Midwestern United States. These farmer-owned cooperatives built new grain elevators or purchased old ones and built or purchased dairy creameries. Thus, in many rural communities of the Midwest there was true competition for the farmers products—corn, wheat and milk. These early cooperatives faced a widespread opposition from railroads, grain companies, banks and many newspapers. Shortly after the turn of the century, two significant farm organizations were organized in support of the cooperative movement.
In the south, the Farmers Alliance was broken by the organized and united power of the cotton brokers, the banks and the railroads. Accordingly, in 1902, the National Farmers Union was organized in Point, Texas by Newt Gresham and a number of other farmers. Newt Gresham became one of the main organizers of the Farmer’s Union. Newt Gresham knew how to persevere in the face of adversity. He had been orphaned at the age of 10 years. Thus, at an early age he had become totally self-reliant. He was self-educated, had worked the land for most of his life and became the chief organizer for the Farmers Alliance.
In 1911, another farmers group was formed—the American Farm Bureau Federation was organized in Binghamton, New York. Both of these farm organizations agreed on the benefit of cooperatives to the average farmer. The American Farm Bureau began forming some cooperatives in the 1920s. (Cockshutt: The Complete Story compiled by the International Cockshutt Club, Inc. [American Society of Engineers Press: St. Joseph, Michigan, 1999] p. 78.) These Farm Bureau affiliated cooperatives were located, mainly, in Michigan, Ohio and Indiana. Farmers Union cooperatives were mainly located further west (Wisconsin, Minnesota and the Dakotas) and extended south as far as Oklahoma and Texas. However the two organizations developed an entirely different philosophy regarding governmental assistance to farmers in distress. The National Farmers Union supported government assistance and government regulation of the farm markets in time of distress. The America Farm Bureau tended to be opposed to all governmental interference in the farm economy.
One of the early cooperatives formed in the Midwest, was the Equity Cooperative Exchange of St. Paul, Minnesota which had been formed in 1908. In 1914, Equity Cooperative built their own grain elevator on the banks of the Mississippi River in St. Paul. However, Equity had trouble finding buyers for its grain because of the discriminatory actions of private grain companies. For example, Equity was denied a seat in the privately-owned Minneapolis Grain Exchange because of this opposition led by the Minneapolis Chamber of Commerce. Accordingly, Equity started their own grain exchange—the St. Paul Grain Exchange in 1914.
The free-wheeling free enterprise economy of the 1920s worked against the cooperatives. Equity Cooperative was forced into bankruptcy in the 1920s and in 1926, Farmers Union Terminal Association took over the assets of Equity, in order to continue the goals of the cooperative movement in North America. True to its Farmers Union philosophy the Farmers Union Terminal Association supported stronger regulations on the inspection of grain and governmental regulation of the weighing and calibration of the scales within elevators to assure honest weighing practices.
The severe economic depression of the early 1930s brought renewed vigor to the cooperative movement in the United States. Farmer-owned cooperatives surged in numbers across the Midwestern states. On June 1, 1938, the Farmers Union Terminal Association re-organized itself as the Grain Terminal Association (GTA).
Leading organizers of the Farmers Union, like Charles C. Talbot founder and president of the North Dakota Farmers Union; Bill Thatcher, a legislative lobbyist for the Farmers Union in Minnesota; and A.W. Richer, now became involved with GTA.
In the early 1930’s, Myron William (Bill) Thatcher became the general manager of the GTA. Over the 30 years that Bill Thatcher served as general manager of the developed contacts and friendships with politicians, including President Franklin Roosevelt, Secretary of Agriculture Henry Wallace, Senator Hubert H. Humphrey of Minnesota and Republican Senator Milton Young of North Dakota. Because of the political philosophy of the Farmers Union which tended to support governmental support of farmers in trouble, most of the political contacts that Bill Thatcher generated on behalf of the Farmers Union/GTA tended to be overwhelmingly members of the Democratic Party. Both in 1932 and 1936, the Farmers Union supported Franklin Roosevelt, while the American Farm Bureau did not. Accordingly, the Farmers Union evolved into a traditional major constituency of the Democratic Party similar to the way the AFL (the American Federation of Labor) and the CIO (the Congress of Industrial Organizations) became major constituent parts of the Democratic Party among urban laboring people.
The Row-Crop Model 77 Tractor Bearing the Serial No. 4501745
Brian Wayne Wells
THIS ARTICLE REMAINS UNDER CONSTRUCTION. PERIODICALLY ADDITIONS WILL BE MADE TO THE ARTICLE. WHEN THE ARTICLE IS COMPLETE THIS PARTICULAR MESSAGE WILL DISAPPEAR.
Subsequent acquisitions by the New Idea Company included the Horn Company of Fort Dodge, Iowa. In 1963, the New Idea Company bought the Uni-tractor line from Minneapolis-Moline. In 1984, the Allied Company bought the New Idea Company. In 1985, the Allied Company purchased the White Tractor Company. In 1988, the White-New Idea Company closed the old Tractor Works located in Charles City, Iowa and moved all White tractor production to the New Idea factory in Coldwater, Ohio.
Austin, Minnesota, (1950 pop. 23,100) is the county seat of Mower County. Austin is located in a Township on the a Located in the middle of Mower County is Windom Township which surrounds the small village of Rose Creek, Minnesota (1930 pop. 210). Until 1980, Rose Creek, Minnesota was famous in the surrounding agricultural community for a farm tractor dealership that was far out of proportion with the town’s small size.
Favorable market conditions in the sheep market were reported over the radio—like WCCO radio out of the Twin Cities. Our Nevada Township farmer began think hard about acquiring a small flock of ewes. He was not alone. Many farmers in his neighborhood were doing the same thing. Indeed, for one farm family over in a neighboring township—Austin Township—sheep raising was already a major part of their farm income. Earl Eugene and Margaret (Stormer) Subra owned a farm containing only 60-acres in Austin Township. While, the Subra family milked some cows and raise some pigs, they virtually made all their cash income from sheep—pure bred Suffolk sheep. Born in 1913, Earl Subra grew up on the farm of his parents William J. and Bertha (Dennis) Subra located in Austin Township. Raised on his father’s farm, Earl had moved to his own farm. In 1931, he and Margaret Stormer were married. Earl began raising Suffolk sheep prior to 1940. He chose Suffolk sheep because of the characteristics of breed.
The Suffolk breed was born as a result of the cross breeding of Southdown sheep with old Norfolk sheep in England. Suffolks are not “wool” sheep. They grow only a moderate amount of wool. They were a breed of sheep known for their black faces and legs, which were free of wool. Suffolk sheep were raised primarily as “meat” sheep. Suffolk ewes (female sheep) were prolific in the production of offspring and were “good milkers.” Suffolk lambs grew rapidly; they had more edible meat and less fat than other breeds. Suffolks have excellent feed conversion characteristics which means that Suffolks have the capacity to actively graze and rustle for feed even on dry range lands. However, this characteristic also means that when Suffolk lambs are raised on high quality feeds, the breed has one of the fastest growth rates of any breed of sheep. Consequently, Suffolk sheep were rapidly becoming the most common breed in the Midwestern United States. (Paula Simmons & Carol Ekarius, Storey’s Guide to Raising Sheep [Storey Publishing: North Adams, Massachusetts, 2001] p. 74.)
Earl Subra noted that Suffolks answered the demands of the market at the current time in 1940. Meat, not wool, was the main product that was in demand in the current market. Suffolks had the quality of lean meat that the market demanded. Furthermore, the short five-month (147-153 day) gestation period plus the rapid growth rate of the individual lambs meant that the farmer could make money faster with Suffolks than with other breed of sheep. Earl Subra knew that, drawn by the chance for making a good profit, many farmers would be attempting enter the sheep market by acquiring flocks of their own for the first time. He also knew that many of these farmers would be choosing Suffolks. Accordingly, in addition to raising and selling lambs to the Hormel meat packing plant in Austin, he felt he could also make a profit selling bucks (male sheep) and ewes (female sheep) to those farmers wanting to start their own flocks. In this way he would be working with the rising tide of farmers entering the sheep market. This, Earl Subra thought, was the way he could make a living out of the new situation that was arising.
However, to sell Suffolks to the farmers wishing to start their new flocks, Earl Subra felt that he needed to have a product that would these farmers would buy. If Suffolk sheep had characteristics that would stand out among other breeds of sheep, then the goal should be to raise Suffolk sheep that would adhere closely to those characteristics and avoid any negative characteristics. Indeed, there already was an organization in devoted to promoting the best characteristics of the Suffolk breed by educating Suffolk breeders. This organization was the National Suffolk Sheep Association (N.S.S.A.) which was headquartered in Michigan and later was headquartered in Columbia, Missouri. N.S.S.A. started a registration process by which purebred Suffolks could be registered with N.S.S.A. N.S.S.A. would mail out a certificate of registration to the owner of the individual registered sheep. In order to qualify for registration, both the sire (father) and dam (mother) must also have their own certificates of registration. Theoretically, then every registered purebred Suffolk could be traced back through a paper trail of registration certificates to the original Suffolk sheep which initially defined the breed. Each certificate of registration would document that the individual sheep was direct descendant of these original Suffolk sheep.
Even prior to 1939, Earl Subra had been working on developing a flock of Suffolk sheep that reflected superiority in any number of individual features. Soon his ewes and rams were winning a number of blue ribbons at the Mower County Fair which was held in the first week of August each year. Earl also began to make a name for himself at the Minnesota State Fair. Soon breeders from outside the Midwest, and even from Canada, were searching him out to purchase rams and ewes from the Subra flock. These other breeders saw traits in the Subra sheep that they wished to include in the blood lines of their own flocks. Consequently, Subra sheep were sold far and wide and Earl Subra became quite famous among Suffolk breeders across the nation.
Accordingly, when our Nevada Township farmer began to think seriously about obtaining a flock of sheep for his own farm, he though of the Subra farm located in the next township to the west. Accordingly, in the fall of 1941, after watching the dramatic increase in the price of sheep over the summer (reaching $7.10 per hundred weight in August of 1941), our Nevada Township farmer purchased eight (8) purebred Suffolk ewes from Earl Subra in September of 1941 and brought them to his farm. He hoped that adding sheep to his farming operation would be another diversification of the farming operation and the farm income. He hoped this diversification would further strengthen his family’s financial position.
Introducing the ewes to his farm for the first time required that some changes be made to the farm. The farm on which our Nevada Township farmer and his family lived was established in a series of concentric circles, each area fenced off from the next larger circle. The immediate area around the house contained the lawns, the outhouse, dog house and family garden. This was the inner yard. A legal term for this area is “the curtilage.” The next largest encircled area included most of the rest of the building site of the farm, the grove, the orchard and the windbreak running along the north and west sides of the building site. This area was also called the “yard,” but the term was meant to be used in a larger sense than the mere curtilage around the house. The area behind the barn was fenced off from the yard to keep the cows out of the yard. Likewise the areas on either side of the hog house were fenced off to keep the pigs out of the yard and the chicken yard next to the hen house was fenced off to keep the chickens out of the yard. All animals were kept out of the yard except the family dog and any cats from the barn. These animals were actually encouraged to patrol the yard and keep rodents under control. However, the yard was intended to be the main home for the small flock of sheep that he was now acquiring.
One of the benefits of a flock of sheep would be the fact that they would keep the grass and weeds in all area of the yard under control. This would save labor and time that the family had, in the past, spent trying to keep these areas mowed and trimmed. This was one of the advantages that our Nevada Township farmer looked forward to about having sheep on the farm. However, there were also disadvantages. One of the most important disadvantages was that all the fences around the yard had to be improved and reinforced. Sheep were curious and would explore every portion of the area they occupy in order to find vegetation to eat. First, the fence between the yard and the cartilage needed to be made more secure to keep the sheep from invading the cartilage and most importantly out of the family garden. In the garden, the sheep could make quick work of the young succulent plants the family was trying to grow there. The lawns inside the cartilage would continue to be mowed by the family, just as in the past. Likewise the fences around the outside of the yard needed to be strengthened to prevent the sheep from getting into the fields where the farm crops were being raised.
In 1945, the number of sheep across the whole state of Minnesota stood at 995,000 head. In Mower County the sheep population was 17,500 head in 1945. The number of sheep in neighboring Fillmore County, to the east of Mower County, stood at 30,500 head.
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October Sr. John and (A short profile of Robert Thill and a short history of Thill Implement is contained in the issue of Oliver Collector magazine
Until the dealership closed its doors in 1965, Thill Implement served as the a local Oliver Farm Equipment dealership. However, over the years they were in business, Thill Implement grew in reputation and fame until they served much more than just Windom Township and the immediate Rose Creek community. The dealership eventually became the premier Oliver dealership of all Mower County and, began to serve the entire southern Minnesota and northern Iowa area.
The Second World War had had a large impact on the population of the United States. In 1940, still 43.5% of the population of the nation lived on farms. In 1950, this figure had dropped to 36.9% of the total population. (See the U.S. Census on-line.) Still with more than one third of the nation making their money from farms, the United States remained a “rural nation.” Thus, many of the returning United States veterans from both theaters of the war were from farms and upon their return to home. When they did return they had many new ideas on how to modernize the family farm. First and foremost, in the improvements sought by returning veterans, was to replace slow, inefficient horse power on the family farm with mechanical power supplied by a farm tractor. Thus, a large demand for tractors was created at the end of the war. Furthermore, this demand for tractors was made worse by the fact that no new tractors had been available during the whole course of the war. Accordingly, even the farmers that might have bought a new farm tractor during the war were prevented from doing so by the wartime restrictions on the economy which curtailed civilian tractor production. With the return of peace, these wartime restrictions on the economy were suddenly ended. There was a tremendous surge of buyers released into the new farm machinery market. This surge of buyers caused new local dealerships to spring up all over the Midwestern United States.
One of these new implement dealerships, was the Thill Implement dealership in Rose Creek, in Mower County, Minnesota. John Thill started this dealership in . John Thill remained a farmer in Windom Township. In , with his brother Jack. Thill Implement had a dealership franchise agreement with the Oliver Farm EquipmentCompany of Charles City, Iowa, to sell the full line of Oliver farm equipment from the. Since 1937, the line Oliver of tractors had been distinguished by the six-cylinder Model 70 tractor. The Model 70 was the most popular selling tractor in the line of Oliver had a sales reputation that stretched far beyond the rural Rose Creek community. The dealership became an important regionally severing a multi-county area in southern Minnesota and Northern Iowa. The dealership With the return of peace following the Second World War, the In the post-war was uniques line, were In the pos
dealership grown into a . Rober achad not yet reached its full capacity . The dealership had been was
thaof the the South Bend, Indiana is famously known as the home of Notre Dame University. However, the economic basis for the small Indiana city is build on the processing of iron and the manufacture of farm machinery. Two particular examples of the farm equipment manufacturing basis of the South Bend economy are the two factories owned by the Oliver Farm Equipment Corporation—South Bend No. 1, located on the large industrial lot at the corner of Chapin and Sample streets and extending to Indiana Street, and South Bend No. 2 located at Walnut Street. South Bend No. 1 is the Oliver Chilled Plow factory and contains a foundry. While South Bend No. 2 is the “Tractor Works” is basically a large machining works where the various castings molded in South Bend No. 1 are drilled with the necessary bolt holes and and where edges on those castings are shaved down under huge milling machines to the proper tolerances to be fit together with other castings during the assembly of Oliver tractors and engines. (Scenes of the operations inside both South Bend No. 1 and South Bend No. 2 can be seen on the movie Acres of Power . This movie is available on VHS video tape from the Floyd County Historical Society.)
On Friday morning , December 11, 1953, the work force at the South Bend No. 1 foundry works of the Oliver Farm Equipment Company changed some numbers on the mold for the transmission and rear-end housing for Oliver’s most popular tractor—the Row Crop Model 77 tractor. Each casting l the casting rought the date on the mould of their castings up to date. All transmission and rear end housing that would be cast today would bear the current date—December 11, 1953. a particular casting for the transmission and rear end housing was cast. As usual, all the molds used for casting this e on this the mold was All the cast iron used in the assembly of the famous Oliver tractor are “cast” right here in South Bend No. 1. that fit together and form Oliver tractors are made in bMost famously milled. ade in the uplants s the basic xiand town s The The 100° longitude meridian line runs north and south over the states of North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas. This longitude line is
In December of 1968, Robert and Lorraine Westfall and their family of eight children moved from the Jimmy Olson farm, located northwest of Dexter, Minnesota (1960 pop. 313), to their own farm which they purchased in December of 1968. This farm was located in the same neighborhood and was situated east of the village of Dexter. east of thev of rural which they had been renting since 1959 to their own farm which th. No. 4501745 was again sold through Thill Implement in the December of 1968 to Robert Westfall of Dexter, Minnesota. Robert and Lorraine Westfall used No. 4501745 on their farm until Robert passed away on January 13, 1992. Lorraine continued to live on the farm and rent out the acerage until she sold the farm in October of 1996. In 1996 she sold No. 4501745 to Mark Wells. In August of 1996, David Preuhs pickup and trailer from LeSueur, Minnesota to the Westfall farm in near Dexter, Minnesota to pickup the Oliver tractor and bring it back to LeSueur Pioneer Power. Kyle Lieske worked on the Oliver over the winter of 2008-2009 and the tractor was brought to West Virginia by Sally and Brian Wells where the tracor was painted during June of 2009 by Jake Lovejoy of Red House, West Virginia. and r f from tr Defrom drove his trailer and and she sold the Olver Row Crop to Mark Wells. Wesvat this The Oliver continued to be used on the farm for u r Retired from farming in tithe Model and Fa;;l V s ;V. The the
++__________Soybean Farming in Butternut Valley Township (Part 2 of 2 parts):
The 1944 Farmall Model H Tractor
Brian Wayne Wells
As noted, previously, Butternut Valley Township is located in the extreme northwestern corner of Blue Earth County, Minnesota. (See the first article in this series called “Soybean Farming in Butternut Valley Township [Part 1]” also published in the blog section of this website.) Also, as previously noted, in 1942 Butternut Valley Township was the home of a particular diversified 160 acre family farming operation. Our Butternut Valley Township farer and his wife had lived on this farm since they were married in 1919. As a diversified farming operation, he and his wife milked a Holstein dairy herd, raised pigs and had a chicken flock. They sold milk and eggs off the farm for regular income. Each summer they marketed the pigs they had raised to provide cash income in the summer. In the fields, they raised oats and hay. Originally the oats were raised to feed their horses as well as their chickens and the hay was used to feed both the cows and the horses.
Since obtaining a “used” 1929 Farmall Regular tricycle-style tractor in 1937, he had greatly reduced the number of horses his farm. Thus, he had been able to reduce the number of acres planted to oats and hay each year. The largest crop on the farm was corn. Part of the corn crop was cut in August each year, while it was still green. This corn was then fed into the silo filler and blown into the silo which stood next to the barn. The silage in the silo would be used all winter to feed the dairy herd. The remaining corn would be picked in the late autumn and the ears of corn would be stored in the corn crib. Part of this corn would be shelled and saved to fatten the pigs for market. The rest of the corn would be sold to provide cash income in the winter. Consequently, the corn was a cash crop as well as source of animal food.
Since the attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese in December of 1941, a new market for plastics had arisen. Soybeans was the main raw product used in making plastics. Accordingly, since 1941,. the market price for soybeans had been soaring. Because he now planted less acres in hay and oats, our Butternut Valley Township farmer decided to plant that extra acreage to soybeans in the spring of 1942. The growing season of 1942 was almost perfect. Both soybeans and corn were bumper crops. Furthermore, the price of these two farm products rose to high levels. Consequently, our Butternut Valley Township farmer had one of his best years in terms of farm income. As a result, he seriously think about upgrading his farming operation by trading the old 1929 Farmall Regular in on the purchase of a new modern farm tractor.
After selling his corn, our Butternut Valley Township farmer was able to pay off all his debts and find that he still had a comfortable balance of funds in the bank. As a result, he again visited the Fesenmaier Hardware dealership. He had heard rumors that more Famall H’s with rubber tires were starting to be manufactured, again, due to the fact that more rubber was starting to be released by the government for civilian production. This time he told the staff at the Fesenmaier dealership to place his name on the list for a rubber-tired Farmall H. However, he told them he only wanted a Farmall H with rubber tires, electric starting and hydraulics. He needed the new tractor now more than ever before.
In the spring of 1943, our Butternut Valley Township farmer increased the amount of acreage he planted to soybeans. He kept waiting for his Farmall H to arrive at the Fesenmaier Hardware dealership. However, very few Farmall Model H tractors arrived at the dealership in New Ulm, Minnesota in 1943 because the manufacturing capacity of the International Harvester Company was still being dominated by government-military contacts. By 1943, ⅔ or 66.6% of the Company’s sales contracts were for military hardware. (Barbara Marsh, A Corporate Tragedy: The Agony of International Harvester p. 71.) Consequently, production of farm tractors by the IHC declined even more. Although already greatly curtailed, production of the Farmall Model H fell off by another 6% in 1943 when compared with the previous year. Rubber pneumatic tires for the Farmall H had been almost totally unavailable since July of 1942. However, starting in July of 1943 rubber tires for the Farmall H started to become available again on a limited basis. (Guy Fay and Andy Kraushaar, Farmall Letter Series Tractors [MBI Publishing Co.: Osceola, Wisconsin, 1998] p. 73.) Thus, the rumors that our Butternut Valley Township farmer had heard in the early spring of 1943, that rubber tires were once again becoming available for Farmall tractors, proved to be a bit premature. Continue reading Soybean Farming in Butternut Township (Part 2 of 2parts)→
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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A McCormick-Deering Little Genius Plow at Work in
Dryden Township, Sibley County, Minnesota
(Part 1 of 2 Parts)
Brian Wayne Wells
(This is a new article that was never published in
Belt Pulley Magazine)
The more a person works at restoration of an old farm tractor or a farm implement the more one begins to ponder the history of that farm implement. One wonders, who originally purchased the farm implement. What kind farming operation was the implement used for? If curiosity is sufficiently aroused the person restoring the tractor or implement may start making telephone calls back to the person who sold the tractor and may start attempting to establish a chain of ownership of the tractor or implement back to the original owner. However, the process of establishing the chain of ownership can be extremely difficult as time passes and memories fade. Furthermore, when purchases of tractors and farm implements are made, as many are, at swap meets and/or auctions and when such purchases are made for cash from individuals unknown, the chain of ownership can be extremely difficult to reconstruct. (Just how difficult it is to start reconstructing the history of a tractor when time passes is described in the two-part series of articles contained in the July/August 2008 and November/December 2008 issues of Belt Pulley magazine which deal with a 1937 Farmall Model F-20 tractor.) Thus, it is often important to collect history of a particular tractor or implement at the point of sale or at least collect telephone numbers to call back at a later date.
Such pondering over the history of the history of a particular implement was particularly true during the restoration of one particular McCormick-Deering Little Genius 2-bottom plow with 14″ bottoms. (The actual restoration of this plow is described in the article carried on page 11 of the September/October 1994 issue of Belt Pulley magazine [Vol. 7, No. 5. This article is called “The McCormick-Deering Little Genius Plow” and has also been posted on this website.) This particular plow was purchased by Mark Wells at the 1993 LeSueur County Pioneer Power Swap Meet. Luckily, Mark Wells had written down the name and address of the seller of the plow–Larry Hiles of rural Arlington, Minnesota.
Contact was established with Larry Hiles in 1995. Larry Hiles was living in Arlington Township in Sibley County. The homestead was located just south of the village of Arlington. This particular Little Genius plow had been discovered by Larry Hiles parked in the grove of trees that formed the wind break for this homestead. The farm on which the homestead was located had been originally owned by Earl Nagel. While living on the farm, Earl Nagel was actively engaged in farming the land. In about 1956, the homestead on the farm was sold to Raymond Kraels, who was a rural mail carrier. Raymond Kraels was not actively engaged in farming the land. On July 12, 1974, Delmar and Bonnie Mae (Kopishke) Trebesch rented and moved onto the homestead on the Nagel/Krael farm. During the years that the Trebesch family lived on the farm, they had a large garden. The garden was so big that they needed a tractor plow to turn the soil of the garden at the conclusion of each growing season. Accordingly, sometime after moving onto the farm, Delmar Trebesch purchased a McCormick-Deering Little Genius 2-bottom plow at a local farm auction. This was the same McCormick-Deering Little Genius plow that was later sold by Larry Hiles to Mark Wells at the 1993 LeSueur County Pioneer Power Swap Meet and became known as the “Trebesch plow.”
As described in the article in the September/October 1994 issue of Belt Pulley, cited above, this particular Little Genius plow was fitted with 14 inch bottoms and originally had been a steel wheeled plow fitted with McCormick-Deering’s own “round-spoke” steel wheels. However, the front wheels on this particular plow had been cut down and rims for rubber tires had been welded onto the round spokes of the front wheels. As noted in the above-cited article, although the “furrow wheel” on the right side of the plow had been fitted with a rim for a 6.00 x 16 inch rubber tire, the land wheel on the left side of the plow was fitted with a rim for a 4.75 x 19 inch tire. This seemed a rather odd pairing of tires sizes for the front of the plow. If a farmer were having the steel wheels of the plow cut down to mount rubber tires on his plow, why would he not make the tires on both sides of the plow the same size?
Before the Second World War very few farm implements were sold from the factory with rubber tires. Nonetheless, as noted in the 1994 article, the International Harvester Company (IHC) had been offering the Little Genius plow to the farming public with the option of rubber tires as early as the 1930s. Rubber tires were not a common option on the Little Genius plow in the pre-world War II era. However, during the “pre-war” era, IHC had a contract with the French and Hecht Company (F.& H.) of Davenport, Iowa, to supply rims for all the rubber-tired equipment sold under the McCormick-Deering name. Pursuant to this contract, F.& H. supplied their familiar “round spoke” wheel rims to IHC. When the option of rubber tires were requested on the Little Genius plow, IHC fitted the plow with a 6.00 x 16 inch tire on the furrow wheel and a 4.75 x 19 inch tire on the land wheel.
This followed the design pattern of the original steel-wheeled Little Genius plow, in which the land side wheel was bigger in diameter that the furrow wheel. The reason for this wheel configuration was that the land wheel was the wheel connected to the clutch of the plow. The clutch on the land wheel was the mechanism that lifted the entire plow out of the ground when the trip rope was pulled at the end of the field. Consequently, it was thought that a larger diameter wheel was needed to provide the traction and leverage necessary to pull the plow out of the ground in some heavy soil conditions where the surface of the ground was slippery. This was the situation when plowing succulent green vegetation (green fertilizer) into the soil. The land wheel rolling along on the vegetation could become slippery from the succulent plant life crushed under the land wheel. Then when the trip rope in pulled the land wheel might slide along the surface of the ground rather than continuing to turn and lifting the plow out of the ground. Accordingly, it was decided that the land wheel should be larger in diameter so as to provide more leverage when the clutch was engaged to pull the plow out of the ground. As a result, the steel-wheeled version of the Little Genius plow was fitted with a 30 inch steel wheel on the land wheel side of the plow and a 24 inch steel wheel on the furrow wheel side of the plow.
Thus, when the optional rubber tires were installed on the Little Genius plow at the factory in Canton, Illinois, the plow was fitted with a land wheel and tire of a larger diameter than the furrow wheel of the plow. During the immediate pre-war era, the 6.00 x 16 inch tire was becoming the most commonly used tire on automobiles. However, the 4.75 x 19 inch tire was also a well-known and popular size tire, it was the size of tire that was used on the very popular Ford Model A car. Thus, the configuration of a 6.00 x 16 inch tire on the furrow wheel and a 4.75 x 19 inch tire on the land wheel became the standard configuration for Little Genius plows sold with rubber tires before the Second World War. A 1941 picture of the showroom of the Johnson Bros IHC Dealership of Taylorsville, Illinois bears this out. In the foreground of the picture is a new rubber-tired version of the Little Genius plow with a 6.00 x 16 inch tire on the furrow wheel and a 4.75 x 19 inch tire on the land wheel side of the plow.
During the Second World War hardly any rubber was available for civilian use. Consequently, IHC reverted to steel wheels on its new farm equipment. Some time during the Second World War, the contract with F.& H. was terminated and IHC signed another supply contract for rims with the Electric Wheel Company of Quincy, Illinois. The wheels provided by the Electric Wheel Company were “disc-type” wheels. Thus, the “post-war” McCormick-Deering Little Genius plow becomes distinguishable from the “pre-war” Little Genius plow fitted with rubber tires, in that disc-type wheels characterized post-war Little Genius plows and F.& H. round-spoke wheel rims characterized pre-war Little Genius plows fitted with rubber tires. Thus, when cutting down the steel wheels of the Trebesch plow, someone had done a lot of work to make the plow appear as though it came from the factory as a rubber tired plow during the pre-war era.
By 1974, when Delmar Trebesch ended up being the highest bidder on this particular “Little Genius” plow, the increased size of the average farming operation and the larger equipment used on the average farm had definitely made this two-bottom tractor trailing plow into an “antique” from a bygone era. However, there was a time when this particular Little Genius plow had been a new object of attention for a particular farmer looking to modernize his farming operation. Continue reading Egg Raising in Dryden Township, Sibley County Minnesota (Part 1)→
Statistics recorded with Counterize - Version 3.1.4
A 1938 Allis-Chalmers Model WC Tractor Bearing the Serial No. 63306 at Work
by Brian Wayne Wells
As published in the July/August 2007 issue of
Belt Pulley Magazine)
Ever since it’s introduction in 1933, the row-crop, tricycle design-style Model WC tractor had been a very successful sales item for the Allis-Chalmers Manufacturing Company. As noted, previously, the sales of the Model WC tractor created a real opportunity for various businesses, like the H.B. Seitzer and Company dealership of St. Peter, Minnesota. (See the article called the “Allis-Chalmers Two-Row Corn Picker at Work” for the story of the H.B. Seitzer and company dealership, contained in the May/June 2007 issue of Belt Pulley magazine.) An even more dramatic example of the Model WC tractor creating business opportunities for local franchise owners, is the story of Albert E. Anderson. It is a story of an immigrant to the United States from Sweden.
Prior to 1880, Sweden had been the leading exporter of oats to the England. Oats were important, primarily, as feed for horses. Secondarily, were oats were rolled as oat meal for human consumption. As England industrialized, the country needed more oats to feed the growing non-agricultural, urban sector of the population and to feed the increasing number of horses employed off the farm. For decades, Sweden had filled England’s growing demand for oats. Growing oats for this market had kept money flowing into the provinces of southeastern Sweden best-known for agricultural products. Indeed, oats were in such demand that even the marginal lands of the southwestern provinces of Sweden—like the province of Smalund—were plowed and planted to oats.
However, by 1880 England had begun importing cheaper oats from the United States. The opening of the upper midwest of the United States after the War Between the States greatly expanded the capacity of the United States to become an inexpensive supplier of oats. The price of oats from the United States severely undercut the cost of production of oats in Sweden. Thus, by 1880, Sweden had lost a huge part of its foreign export market in oats to the United States. This created a long term economic recession in rural Sweden. Predictably, the young people of rural Sweden began to look for new economic opportunities outside of Sweden. Emmigration from Sweden, during this time, came largely from southern Sweden and, largely, from those southwestern provinces with more marginal agricultural land. Large numbers of the immigrants from Smalund in Sweden in the 1880s, settled in the State of Minnesota in the United States. Certain parts of southern Minnesota bear a strong resemblance to Smalund in Sweden in terms of climate and soil conditions.
One of those young persons was Albert E. Anderson. Albert had been born in Sweden on November 15, 1884. One of the most consistent and pervasive facts of his early life in Sweden had been the steady flow of friends, neighbors and relatives out of Sweden. Most of these young people left their native land to seek their fortune in the United States of America. If the letters and messages from relatives already living in the United States could be believed, life was bliss in the New World.
Albert had training as a blacksmith. However, the income that he could derive from this vocation in Sweden was so insignificant that he finally decided to leave Sweden for good. Accordingly, Albert sailed to Copenhagen, Denmark to catch the S.S. Oscar II sailing from Copenhagen to the United States. The S.S. Oscar II arrived in New York on April 8, 1909. Sailing past the Statue of Liberty the ship landed at Ellis Island in New York harbor. From the time that he descended the gang plank of the S.S. Oscar and stepped onto the dock on Ellis Island, Al Anderson found everything was strange and new.
As he made his way up the large stone staircase in the central hallway of the Ellis Island facility, Albert was considerably anxious about the medical examinations and other processes he would have to undergo on the island. If he did not pass the physical examination on Ellis Island, he could be sent back to Sweden. Little did he know that by the time that he reached the top of the staircase, his medical examination was largely completed. The meager medical staff on the Island was swamped with the large number of immigrants that landed each day. Consequently, the “medical examinations” of the incoming immigrants were considerably abbreviated and consisted, largely, of the medical staff on Island merely observing the immigrants as they made their way up the long flight of stairs in large central hallway of the main building.
Any individual immigrant that appeared to have trouble climbing the flight of stairs would be pulled aside for further medical tests. Clearly, Albert Anderson passed his “medical examination” and was leaving Ellis Island much sooner than he expected. As previously arranged, he started out of New York and headed straight westward toward Verona Township in Faribault County in Minnesota where he expected to meet some of his family members and old neighbors from his old community in Sweden. Albert hoped to put his experience as a blacksmith to work in the small growing settlement of Huntley, Minnesota located in Verona Township. Shortly after arriving in Huntley, Albert established a hardware business in a building in the small un-incorporated settlement that was Huntley.
Within the first few years in Huntley, Albert Anderson met a young lady, named Phoebe G. Skabrud. They fell in love and were married in 1914. In August of 1915, Phoebe gave birth to a son, Paul C. Anderson. Their family was completed by the birth of a daughter, Florence Phoebe, born on November 10, 1917; and finally a son, Albert Elden, born in 1921.
When the 1920 United States Census taker showed up in Huntley, Minnesota, on January 22, 1920, he listed Al Anderson’s primary language as “Swedish.” However, in Huntley, Al Anderson was not alone. The Census report listed a number of heads of household within the settlement of Huntley that also spoke Swedish. Additionally, the Census report indicated that, in 1920, Al Anderson was already occupied as a “merchant” in the “farm machinery” business. One would have to surmise that Al Anderson knew enough English to not only make himself understood in English, but could actually make a successful sales pitch to English-speaking customers. By the time of the 1930 United States Census, Albert Anderson’s occupation was listed as a “proprietor” of a business described as a “hardware/farm implement” business.
As shown previously, the Allis-Chalmers Manufacturing Company, in the mid-to-late 1930s, engaged in a campaign to build up and extend its nationwide sales network. (See the history of the Distel Oil Company dealership described in the article called “The Rinehardt/Christian/Boehne Allis-Chalmers Model E Threshermans Special Tractor” in March/April 2007 issue of Belt Pulley magazine and the history of the H.B. Seitzer and Company dealership described in the article called “The Allis-Chalmers Two-Row Corn Picker at Work” contained in the May/June 2007 issue of Belt Pulley magazine.) This campaign was carried on by Allis-Chalmers sales representatives scouring the countryside of the Midwest looking for local businesses that would be willing to become Allis-Chalmers franchise dealers. When the sales representatives arrived in Faribault County sometime in the mid-1930s, they must have found the Al Anderson hardware store, which already had a long history of serving as a local farm machinery sales outlet, an attractive prospect. For his part, Al Anderson knew that by becoming an authorized Allis Chalmers dealer, he would be able to sell farm tractors along with all the other farm machinery he already was offering to the farming public of his community. Al Anderson realized that, by accepting the offer of an Allis Chalmers dealership, he would suddenly become “full line” farm equipment dealership. Furthermore, Al knew that the Model WC row-crop tractor was a very popular sales item. As noted in a previous article, sales of the Model WC tractor had been explosive since the tractor had been introduced in 1933. (See the article called “An Allis-Chalmers Two-Row Mounted Corn Picker at Work” contained in the May/June 2007 issue of Belt Pulley magazine.) Nation-wide, sales of the Model WC had reached 17,914 tractors in 1936.
Last year in 1937, nation-wide sales nearly doubled and rose to 29,006 despite the recession of 1937. This was a record year for the production of the Model WC by the Allis-Chalmers Manufacturing Company. This was an average of 2,417 model WC tractors per month throughout 1937. So far in 1938, sales of the Model WC were starting to pick up again as the effects of the 1937 recession started to wear off. However, production of the Model WC tractor was suspended while the Allis-Chalmers Tractor Works in West Allis, Wisconsin was being re-tooled for introduction of the 1938 Model WC tractor.
Because of the spectacular sales of the Model WC tractor, Al Anderson agreed to become the local Allis-Chalmers franchise dealership for Huntley, Minnesota. He would sell the Allis-Chalmers line of farm equipment out of his hardware store in Huntley, Minnesota. The sales area covered by his new franchise would include, not only Verona Township where Huntley was located, but included the much larger area of western Faribault County and eastern Martin Counties in southern Minnesota.
Statistics recorded with Counterize - Version 3.1.4
An Allis-Chalmers Two-Row Mounted Corn Picker at Work
by Brian Wayne Wells
(As published in the May/June 2007 issue of
Belt Pulley Magazine)
Throughout the 1930’s in southern Minnesota, wheat production was on the decline as a cash crop on the average family farm. (This declining trend in wheat production is alluded to in the article called “The Rinehardt/Christian/Boehne Model E Thresherman Special” contained in the March/April 2007 issue of Belt Pulley magazine.) Taking the place of wheat as the primary cash crop on the average farm was corn. Corn was preferred as a cash crop to replace wheat because corn had a dual use on the average family farm. Corn could serve as a cash crop, but could also serves as a feed crop for live stock which could then be sold by the farmer. On the “diversified” farms which were common in southern Minnesota, pigs and/or beef cattle were raised on the farm together with corn and other crops. The perfect ideal of the diversified farm was that when pork prices rose higher than corn prices, the number of pigs could be increased and the corn raised on the farm could shifted quickly to feed for the pigs. Likewise, when pork prices fell in comparison to corn, the pigs might be sold off to save the corn for direct sale on the market.
One county in south-central Minnesota where this dynamic was at work was Nicollet, County. In 1921, Nicollet County farmers had planted and harvested 31,065 acres of wheat. By 1931, this figure had fallen to only 13,800 acres. During the same period of time, total corn acreage in the county had risen from 46,716 acres in 1921 to 62,600 acres in 1931. As one might expect, this increase in corn acreage was also accompanied by a parallel increase in the hogs raised in Nicollet County. In 1929, there were already 51,000 head of hogs in Nicollet County. Over the following decade this number increased by 45.1% to 74,000 head in 1939.
However, whether used as a cash crop or as a feed crop, growing corn plants needed special treatment, not required for small grains like wheat and oats. As a row crop, corn needed much cultivation during the summer months to control weeds that might grow up in the corn field and steal the moisture and soil ingredients that were needed for the corn crop. Long after the development of the internal combustion tractor, cultivation of row crops was still a task that had to be done with horses. The reason was that the first tractors were of a “four-wheel” or a “standard” configuration or design. As such these tractors were unable to straddle the row crops in the field in order to be fitted with any kind of cultivating device. However, in 1924 the “Farmall” tractor was introduced by the International Harvester Company. The Farmall tractor had a “tricycle” design and was specifically designed for cultivation of row crops. The Farmall was able to provide all the power needs of the farm; thus, its name—Farmall. The Farmall was a great sales success from the very beginning. Soon all the other major tractor manufacturers were scrambling to come out with their own renditions of the tricycle style Farmall.
The Allis Chalmers Manufacturing Company was no different. Their first foray into the field of row crop tractors was in 1930 with the introduction of the Model UC tractor. However, production of the Model UC was soon overshadowed following the introduction of the improved Model WC row-crop tractor in 1933. In 1934, the first full year of production, the WC outsold all other Allis Chalmers tractors. The Model WC tractor went on to become a very popular sales item for the Allis-Chalmers Manufacturing Company. There was a huge demand among North American farmers for the Model WC tractor. By 1935, one business located in St. Peter, Minnesota (1930 pop. 4,811), the county seat of Nicollet County, was already trying to position itself to take full advantage of this growing demand within Nicollet County. This business was the H.B. Seitzer and Company dealership in St. Peter.
The dealership was born in about 1914, when Henry Bernard Seitzer left his parent’s (William and Mary [Borsch] Seitzer) farm in Oshawa Township, Nicollet County, to seek his future in the county seat. He started a automobile repair garage in St. Peter called the H.B. Seitzer garage. Soon Henry was selling automobiles from his garage. It was an opportune time for him for three major reasons. Firstly, the automobile was just starting to become a popular item with the American public. Henry was getting into the automobile business on the bottom floor at just the right time. Secondly, although, at first, Henry Seitzer was selling cars of all makes and models, he soon signed an exclusive dealership franchise agreement with the Ford Motor Company. In the decade of the 1920s, sales of Ford’s Model T skyrocketed. The Model T was a very inexpensive car to purchase, and everybody wanted one. By signing this agreement in 1915, to sell only to Ford cars and, in exchange, becoming the only Ford dealership in the area, Henry Seitzer was able to ride the immense popularity of the Ford Model T to success in business.
The third major advantage that Henry Seitzer had going for him was that St. Peter was going through a period of strong growth just as the H.B. Seitzer and Company dealership was hitting its stride. In particular, in the 1930s, while neighboring LeSueur County had grown by only 6.9% in population between 1930 and 1940 and while neighboring Sibley County had experienced growth of only 4.8% in the same period, Nicollet County had underwent a population growth of 10.5% during the 1930’s. Furthermore, St. Peter, itself, experienced a 22.0% growth in municipal population during this period of time. This rapid growth of population brought even more buyers to the doors of the H.B. Seitzer and Company dealership.
Under these favorable conditions, Henry Seitzer’s business began to flourish. In the eleven years from 1916 to 1927, Seitzer’s sold an incredible 1,550 Model T automobiles. With introduction of the Model A Ford in 1928, sales at the H.B. Seitzer continued to be brisk. Just two years into the production run of the Model A, the dealership had already sold 280 Model A cars. (Robert Wettergren, A Little Bit of Heaven in St. Peter [St. Peter, Minnesota 2001] p. 13-14.)
In 1917, Henry felt secure enough in his new business that he could start a family. That year, he married an Oshawa Township girl, Kathryn Austa Boys, daughter of Frank and Mary (Kennedy) Boys. Together they rented a house in St. Peter located at 429 W. Nashua Street.
In 1919, Kathyrn’s parents, Fred and Mary Boys, retired from farming, sold their farm in Oshawa Township and bought a house at 311 W. Pine Street in St. Peter. Their 21-year-old son, Russel Boys moved into the Pine Street house. Later they rented part of the large house to Henry and Kathryn Seitzer and their new infant daughter Marjorie. In 1921, Henry Seitzer took his brother-in-law, Russel, into the car dealership as a partner. Signing the agreement with the Ford Motor Company in 1915, the H.B. Seitzer and Company dealership located at 311 South Front Street in St. Peter was to become one of the oldest Ford dealerships in the state of Minnesota.
The Model T brought the automobile within the economic reach of the common man. This was a revolution in transportation that drastically changed the face of North America. The Ford Motor Company created another such revolution in the agricultural industry with the introduction of the Fordson farm tractor. Throughout the 1920s, explosive sales of the small 2,710-pound Fordson tractor sent a panic through all the larger more established farm tractor manufacturers and caused them to scramble to introduce newer, smaller, less expensive farm tractors. As the exclusive dealership for the St. Peter area, the H.B. Seitzer dealership was also benefiting from this revolution in agriculture. Prior to 1930 the dealership had also sold 85 Fordsons to the farmers in the St. Peter community. As the corporate ties between the Ford Motor Company and the Wood Brothers Threshing Machine Company grew, the H. B. Seitzer dealership started selling Wood Bros. threshers also. (The history of the Wood Bros. Threshing Machine Company is described in the two part series of articles contained in the November/December 2000 and January/February 2001 issues of the Belt Pulley magazine.)
From the very beginning, however, the rural farming public was demanding a wider range of farm machinery than was available than the Ford Motor Company could offer. To meet this demand, the H. B. Seitzer dealership, obtained a franchise from the Oliver Farm Equipment Company to sell the entire line of Oliver farm implements. Oliver had only recently become a full-line farm equipment company as a result of the merger in 1929 of the Hart-Parr Gasoline Engine Company, the Nichols and Shepard Company, the American Seeding Machine Company and the Oliver Chilled Plow Works Company; into the new corporate entity called Oliver Farm Equipment Company. In the early 1930s, the franchise looked like a good fit for the H. B. Seitzer and Company dealership. The dealership vigorously advertised the Oliver farm equipment and tractors in the St. Peter Herald semi-weekly newspaper which appeared in St. Peter on Wednesday and Friday each week.
With corn raising on the increase in southern Minnesota, H.B. Seitzer and Company placed high hopes in the new Oliver Row Crop tractors which had been introduced in 1930. The dealership strongly emphasized the Oliver Row Crop tractor in their newspaper advertisements. Still, nationwide sales of the Oliver row crop tractors remained disappointing. In 1932, only 298 Oliver row crop tractors were sold. This was followed by only 420 Row Crops nationwide in 1933, only 811 Row Crops in 1934 and 2,460 in 1935. The H. B. Seitzer and Company dealership could not help but notice that the Allis-Chalmers Company was enjoying far greater success with its new row crop tractor—the Model WC tractor. In 1934, in its first full year of production, 3,098 Model WC tractors were sold, nationwide. The next year, 1935, production of WCs reached 10,743, nationwide.
The success of the Allis-Chalmers Model WC tractor, as opposed to the Oliver Row Crop tractor may have been related to price. The suggested retail price of the Oliver Row Crop tractor was $1,005.00. This was the bare tractor with steel wheels. The power take-off was an option that cost an additional $8.00. The suggested retail price of the Allis-Chalmers Model WC tractor, on the other hand, was $747.50. Even when the buyer added rubber tires on the front and on the rear, the price rose only to $925.00. Another reason for the low sales of the Oliver Row Crop tractor may have been the Oliver Company’s insistence on promoting their “Tip-Toe” design of steel wheels in the face of the growing demand for rubber tires on tractors. An H. B. Seitzer advertisement contained in the April 6, 1934 issue of the St. Peter Herald shows that the dealership was continuing to valiantly struggle to point out the advantages of the Tip-Toe rear wheels of the Row Crop tractor.
Eventually, however, the dealership came to the realization that rubber tires was definitely the trend of the future. With that realization, the attention of the dealership turned to the Allis-Chalmers Manufacturing Company of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. As early as 1929, Allis-Chalmers had been the pioneer in mounting rubber tires on farm equipment—introducing both the Model U (standard) tractor and the original All-Crop Harvester combine on rubber tires in 1929. Like the Oliver Farm Equipment Company, the Allis-Chalmers Manufacturing Company had also just finished a series of corporate mergers. By purchasing companies like the Monarch Tractor Company of Springfield, Illinois, which was bought in 1928; the LaCrosse Plow Company of LaCrosse, Wisconsin purchased in 1929; the Advance-Rumley Thresher Company of LaPorte, Indiana bought in 1931 and the Birdsell Company of South Bend, Indiana also purchased in 1931, the Allis-Chalmers Company was able to offer a full-line of farm equipment for the buying public. This series of corporate purchases, plus the purchase of the Brenneis Manufacturing Company of Oxnard, California in 1938, provided the Allis-Chalmers Manufacturing Company immediately with additional tractor technology and factory works, a full line of sulky and tractor plows, a full line of threshers and other tillage and planting farm equipment. Thus, when the Allis-Chalmers sales representative showed up in St. Peter in the spring of 1935, to sell a franchise to the H. B. Seitzer and Company dealership; little actual persuasion was needed. Recognizing the advantages offered by the Allis-Chalmers full line of farm equipment, the H. B. Seitzer dealership signed a dealership franchise agreement to sell Allis Chalmers farm equipment. An advertisement in the July 24, 1935 issue of the St. Peter Herald proudly announced that H. B. Seitzer & Company was the new “distributor” of Allis-Chalmers farm equipment for the St. Peter area.
However, since neither the Allis-Chalmers franchise, nor the Oliver Company franchise were “exclusive” franchises, the H.B. Seitzer dealership held onto the Oliver franchise and became a dealer for both companies. This was a fortuitous combination of franchises for the H. B. Seitzer dealership. The dealership had found that the Oliver plow was superior to the Allis-Chalmers plow. Thus, the company started making package deals to farmer/customers which included the Allis-Chalmers Model WC tractor and the Oliver Plowmaster two-bottom plow.
The economic depression of the early 1930s created havoc with the whole economy of the United States. Many farmers lost their farms altogether. Recovery from the depression was agonizingly slow, but the mid-1930s, farmers throughout the St. Peter community had were starting to feel more secure in their economic situations and were even thinking of modernizing and improving their farming operations. One such farmer was Henry Juberien of Belgrade Township in Nicollet County which was adjacent to the southern border of Oshawa Township. Henry and Emma (Meyer) Juberien operated a 290 acre farm, eleven (11) miles to the west of St. Peter. They lived on the farm with their nine children—Marvin Peter born on September 29, 1915; Anna M. born on December 30, 1916; Louise S. born in December of 1918; Lorna E. born in 1919; Ruth M. born in June 17, 1920; Celia Agnes born in 1923; Henry Albert (nicknamed “Sam”) born on July 22, 1924; Elnor (nicknamed “Babe”) born on November 29, 1925; and Wallace born on December 30, 1929. Continue reading Allis-Chalmers (Part III): The Two-Row Mounted Corn Picker→
Massey-Harris Farming (Part III): The Clipper Combine
Brian Wayne Wells
As published in the July/August 2004 issue of
Belt Pulley Magazine
Civilized man has grown plants for consumption since 8000 B.C.E. (Before the Common Era). This change from the hunting and gathering stage of human development to the growing of food products is referred to as the agricultural revolution. One of the first crops planted by civilized man was a form of wheat grain. Processing of wheat into flour was so common among civilizations around the world that bread became known as the “staple of life” and wheat became known as the “shaft of life.” The processing of wheat involved a lot of manual labor. Since the earliest of times, the grain was harvested after it had turned golden amber color under the hot summer sun. However, even at this stage the grain contained moisture. Harvesting or reaping would sever the plant from its roots and allow the grain to “sweat” and dry completely. This sweating generally occurred after the grain had been gathered together in bundles and placed in “shocks” in the field. Once the grain had thoroughly dried out, the bundles would be gathered up and threshed by hand. Then the grain had to be winnowed or separated from all the chaff that may be left in the grain following threshing. Thus, harvesting and threshing and winnowing of the grain remained three separate time-consuming hand operations for the processing grain. This method of processing grain remained unchanged for centuries. In 1831, on his family farm in Virginia, Cyrus McCormick took his first big step toward mechanical grain harvesting with his reaper. Improvements to the reaper, eventually, allowed the machine to automatically bind the grain into bundles. Mechanization of the threshing process was also accomplished by the development of a threshing machine in the 1860s. However, this threshing machine was a stationary unit and the bundled grain had to be brought from the field to the thresher for threshing and winnowing of the grain. Originally steam engines were used as power sources for these stationary threshers. By 1877, the Buffalo-Pitts Company was able to advertise a thresher/separator, that would not only thresh, but would also winnow the grain. Development of a small portable thresher-separator that would combine the operations of harvesting, threshing and winnowing in one single operation was carried on in the Central Valley of California by three different corporate concerns—the Stockton Combine Harvester and Agricultural Works; the Daniel Best Agricultural Works and the Stockton Wheel Company. (After 1892, Stockton Wheel became the Holt Manufacturing Company.) In 1925, these three companies would merge to form the Caterpillar Tractor Company. The early combines produced by each of these three companies were of mammoth proportions and required 24 to 40 horses to pull the machine across the field. A separate auxiliary power source was need to power the machine itself. California’s steady weather allowed the grain to be harvested while it was still standing in the field rather than being cut and dried out in a windrow. Likewise, all across the western United States and the western provinces of Canada, grain was harvested while standing. In these western states grain was raised in fields stretching from horizon to horizon. Thus, the Great Plains became known as the bread basket of North America. Only in large-scale grain farming areas like the Great Plains were the huge combines profitable. In the Midwest, farms were much smaller—generally only about 160 acres. Furthermore, the arable land of the average farm was often shared with other crops and with pasture for animals. Usually only about 30 to 35 acres of grain would be raised on a typical 160-acre farm in any given year. A big combine was not profitable in this type of farming operation. Farms in the Midwest had to await development of a small combine. Development of the small combine for use on the small farms of the Midwest took a circuitous route and some early attempts were not entirely successful. One early attempt to develop a small combine began with Curtis Baldwin and his brothers, Earnest and George, who formed the Baldwin Manufacturing Company (later to become the Gleaner Manufacturing Company) of Nickerson Kansas in 1915. The efforts of the Baldwin brothers resulted in a Fordson-mounted combine in 1923. This combine was named the “Gleaner” combine. The popularity of the Gleaner combine was tied directly to the popularity of the Fordson tractor. In the early 1920s, the popularity of the Fordson made the Gleaner mounted combine a popular sales item, but later in the late 1920s, when the Fordson declined in popularity, so too did the popularity of the Gleaner. The Gleaner mounted combine ceased production altogether in 1927. In the 1930s, the Baldwin Company went into bankruptcy. New owners bought the company from the Baldwin brothers and changed the name of the company to the Gleaner Manufacturing Company of Independence, Missouri. The new Gleaner Company began designing and producing a series of pull-type combines. Revealing the company’s long-time ties to the Ford Motor Company, early versions of these pull-type combines were powered by Ford Model A industrial engines. However, these attempts at producing a pull-type combine were not successful over the long run. Gleaner pull-type combines proved to have design flaws and never became popular with the buying public. Only after 1951, the Gleaner Company became successful for the combines they produced. However, this success was not based on development of a pull-type combine. Rather Gleaner became famous for the development and production of its line of self-propelled combines. The most successful small pull-type combine was the 3,000 pound All-Crop- Harvester developed and manufactured by the Allis-Chalmers Manufacturing Company of West Allis, Wisconsin (a more complete story of the All-Crop Harvester was published in the March/April 2005 issue of Belt Pulley magazine and is also exhibited here on this website). The All-Crop Harvester was first introduced to the public in 1929. Following in the train of the success of the All-Crop Harvester, other farm equipment companies began producing their own version of a small pull-type combine. Most of these other companies adopted a “straight through” design for their small combines. The straight-through designed cut the grain (or picked up the grain from a windrow) threshed and separated the grain from the straw and then deposited the straw on top of the same stubble at the rear of the combine in roughly the same location where grain had been cut or picked up. In this way, the straight-through combines avoided the sharp left turn the chaff and straw would take as it progressed through the All-Crop Harvester. One of the farm equipment companies to develop a straight through combine was the Massey-Harris Company of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Starting with a design by E. C. Everett, Massey-Harris introduced their small straight-through combine in 1938. his combine was called the “Clipper” combine. Although the Massey-Harris Company was a Canadian company and maintained most of its manufacturing facilities in Canada, virtually all Clipper combines were made in the United States at the company’s Batavia, New York facility. The 3,000 pound Clipper pull-type combine was marketed with either a 6-foot or a 7-foot cutter bar model. Both models featured a 5-foot cylinder and a 5 foot wide separating table. In its first two years of production (1938-1939), the simplicity, small size and low price of the Clipper made the combine a sales success. In those first two years the Clipper cut well into the market share dominated by the Allis-Chalmers All-Crop Harvester. Right from the start of production, the Clipper combine was available only on rubber tires. Like many farm equipment companies before World War II, Massey-Harris contracted with the French & Hecht Company of Bettendorf, Iowa, to supply round-spoked wheel rims for these rubber tires on the Clipper. After the war, Massey-Harris switched to disc-type wheel rims for their rubber tired wheels for the Clipper combine. Like most companies in the post-war era, Massey Harris obtained these disc-type wheels from the Electric Wheel Company of Quincy, Illinois. Because of this abrupt change of contract, “pre-war” Clipper combines are distinguishable from the Clipper combines manufactured in the post-war era. Concurrent with the start of Clipper combine production, Tom Carroll, an engineer for Massey-Harris began to work on a self-propelled combine. By 1942, Carroll had completed a design for a self-propelled combine that would become the Massey-Harris Model 21 combine. This was the world’s first truly self-propelled combine. The Model 21 combine was ready for production, but wartime restrictions prevented its manufacture. Massey-Harris set about convincing the United States War Production Board that the Batavia, New York factory should be allotted sufficient steel and other raw materials to produce a limited number of Model 21 combines. Massey-Harris sought to build sufficient Model 21 combines to conduct extensive field tests on the combine. These field tests would, the Company felt, convince one and all that one-man-operated self-propelled combine could harvest much more grain with less investment and in money and manpower “than any other machine or combination of machines in existence.” The War Production Board was persuaded and Massey-Harris was allotted enough materials to produce 500 Model 21 combines. These combines were sold to custom harvesters in March of 1944. The new combines would begin harvesting in Texas and move north across the Great Plains to the Canadian border, combining nearly 1 million acres and threshing 15 million bushels of grain in the 1944 harvest season. This became known as the Massey-Harris Harvest Brigade and served as an excellent advertising promotion for the company. The Harvest Brigade was so successful that it was expanded for the 1945 harvest season. The Harvest Brigade attracted public attention at the time and has attracted the fancy of fans and restorers of Massey-Harris equipment ever since. Thus, as the 60th anniversary of the Brigade approached more and more restorers expressed interest in participating in a reenactment of the original Harvest Brigade. Thus, on September 22, 2001, a large number of Massey-Harris tractors and equipment were brought to a 130-acre plot of land in rural Chillicothe, Illinois, to plow, prepare the seed bed, and plant winter wheat on the plot of land. This event, organized by Dale Lawrence, was dubbed the “Great Planting.” The wheat formed a good root system over the fall of 2001 and then went into a dormant stage over the winter. With the arrival of spring, the wheat started growing again and by early summer in 2002, the wheat was ready to harvest. Harvest Day was planned and was called the “Great Harvest.” A collection of Massey-Harris combines owned by Wes Armstrong, Gary Emsweller, Vernon Winterroth and Ray Swanson gathered together to harvest the wheat at the Great Harvest Day. (See “A Massey Connection” by Cindy Ladage in the July/August 2003 issue of Belt Pulley magazine.) At the annual show held on the grounds of the LeSueur County Pioneer Power Association in rural LeCenter, Minnesota on August 26 through 29, 2003. This annual show was to feature the same Harvest Brigade combines as had participated in the Great Harvest Day the year before in Illinois. In anticipation of this field demonstration, some of the grain that is usually planted on the grounds and which is usually cut and bundled for threshing during the annual show, was left standing uncut. This grain was left standing in order to be harvested by the Massey-Harris combines at the show in another re-enactment of the Harvest Brigade. Throughout the summer of 2004 a continuation of the celebration of the Harvest Brigade took place in many locations across the Great Plains. One particular celebration began in March of 2004 when Lenwood Holo of Omaha, Nebraska and Eau Claire, Wisconsin loaded up his newly restored Model 21 self-propelled Massey-Harris combine on his 1949 Dodge 2-ton truck truck and set out for Texas to retrace the route of the Harvest Brigade—following the harvest north from Texas to Langdon, North Dakota. While the self-propelled Massey-Harris combine and the Harvest Brigade captured all the attention during the war. After the war, when the wartime economic restrictions on civilian industrial production were lifted, Massey-Harris’ pull-type Clipper combine came back into prominence. Indeed the Clipper combine became a very big seller for the Massey-Harris Company. Clipper combine production resumed after the war. The post-war Clipper combine was offered to the farming public in a power take-off version as well as an engine-powered version. The engine used for the auxiliary-powered version, was the Wisconsin Model VE-4 air-cooled engine. (An article on the history of the Wisconsin Motor Company was published in the September/October 2004 issue of Belt Pulley magazine and is reproduced at this website.) Despite the fact that power take-off was a common feature of post-war tractors and despite the fact that the 1-3/8th inch containing six (6) splines had become universally accepted as the standard power take-off, there still, nonetheless, seemed to be more auxiliary engine-powered versions of the Clipper combine manufactured than power take-off versions. Of particular interest for this particular article are two post-war Clipper combines, both equipped with the Wisconsin VE-4 air-cooled engine, which were delivered to two separate Massey Harris dealerships in southern Minnesota. The first of these two Clipper combines arrived in Amboy, Minnesota (1940 pop. 576) some time in the early summer of 1948. The combine arrived on board a flat-bed car attached to a Chicago and Northwestern train. The flat-bed railroad car carrying the Clipper combine and some other Massey-Harris equipment originated from the Massey-Harris Company branch house located in Minneapolis, Minnesota. In Amboy, the Clipper combine was unloaded from the railroad car and was taken to the W. J. Nelson Dealership in Amboy. (A history of the W. J. Nelson dealership was carried in the second article of this three part series of articles on “Massey-Harris Farming” published in the May/June 2004 issue of Belt Pulley magazine. The article is also reproduced on this website under the name “Massey-Harris Farming: The Arno Schull Model 30 Tractor.”) Continue reading Massey-Harris Farming (Part III): The Clipper Combine→
Belt Pulley Magazine Articles by Brian Wayne Wells