Category Archives: J. I. Case

A 1945 J. I. Case Company Model SC Tractor in Belgrade Township, Nicollet County, Minnesota

The 1945 Case Model SC Tractor in Nicollet County, Minnesota

by

Brian Wayne Wells

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

The J. I. Case Company Model SC tractor.

The J. I. Case Company introduced their first tricycle-style tractor—the Model CC tractor in 1929.  The CC weighed 4,240 lbs. (pounds) and produced 27.37 hp. (horsepower) to the belt pulley and 17.33 hp. to the drawbar.  The CC was advertised as a tractor that could pull a two-bottom plow with 14 inch bottoms.  So the Model CC could perform all the heavy tillage work in the fields of the average farm, just like the “four-wheel” or “standard” tractors that Case had offered the farming public before 1929.  These four-wheel tractors could do all the field work on the farms of North America except one field task–the cultivation of row-crops.  Thus, even with a standard type tractor, the North America farmer could get rid of a large number of horses on the farm that were required for heavy tillage and seed-bed preparation in the Spring of each year.  However, the farmer would have to retain  enough horses necessary for cultivation of the row-crops on the farm.  With the introduction of “row crop” or tricycle style tractors, the North American farmer was able to purchase one of these row crop tractors, like the Case Model CC.  Then, the farmer would then be able to get rid of all the horses on his farm and farm in a fully mechanized way.  Thus, the Model CC could be used to provide all the power on the farm to perform all the field work over the whole growing season.

A view of the right side of the Case Model CC tractor.  Early versions of the Model CC Case tractor weighed just 3, 640 pounds and had a maufacturer’s suggested price of just $1.025.

 

The most unique feature about all the Case Model CC was the steering rod than located outside the hood of the tractor on the left side of the tractor.  This rod extended along the left side of the tractor to the front wheels  the tractor.  Because this looked like a convenient place for the chickens, on the farm, to roost during the night, this rod became popularly known as “chicken’s roost.”   Over the entire production from 1929 until 1939, 29,824 Model CC tractors were made.

A left side view of the Case Model CC tractor, showing the unique “chickens roost” style steering rod which was a famous feature of Case tractors.

 

In 1939, the CC was “styled,” modernized and the engine was upgraded in horsepower to a full 32.92 hp. at the belt pulley or the and 24.39 hp. at the drawbar. The tractor was re-designated as the new Case Model DC-3 tricycle style tractor.  Instead of being painted gray like the Model CC, the Model DC-3 was painted a reddish-orange color that the J. I. Case Company called “Flambeau Red.”  The DC-3 had a new Case-built engine with a 3-7/8 inch bore and a 5 ½ inch stroke, was commonly fitted with 11.25 by 38 inch rubber tires and weighed 7,010 lbs. Case advertised the DC-3 tractor as a “full three-plow  tractor.”  This meant that the DC-3 could pull a three–bottom plow even with 16 inch bottoms in most plowing conditions.   By 1944, the suggested retail price of the DC was $1,270 as mounted on rubber tires.  During the entire production run of the Model DC-3 from 1939 until 1955, 54,925 DC-3 tractors were manufactured by the J.I. Case Company, or about 3,433 Model DC-3’s per year.

The Case Model DC-3 tractor replaced the Model CC in the Case line of row-crop tractors in 1939. 

 

With the introduction of the DC-3 and the phasing out of the Model CC tractor there was a vacancy in the “two-plow” class of tractors within the J. I. Case Company tractor line.   Accordingly, in 1940, one year after the introduction of the DC-3, the J.I. Case Company introduced the Model SC tractor. The Model SC weighed 4,200 lbs., was fitted with a 2.7 liter four-cylinder engine with a 3 ½ inch bore and a 4 inch stroke which  delivered 21.62. hp to the belt pulley and 16.18 hp. to the drawbar.  The Model SC was painted Flambeau Red to match the Model DC-3 and retained the hand clutch, the same “chicken’s roost” style steering rod of the Model CC and the Model DC-3 and retained the 11.25 by 38 inch rear rubber tires of the Model DC-3.  However, the Model SC could be purchased for a much lower price than the DC-3.  Many farmers took advantage of this price difference to purchase the Model SC tractor and the Model SC tractor became the best-selling tractor of the Case Flambeau Red line of tractors.  Over its shorter production run (from 1940 until 1955), a total of 58,991 Model SC tractors (or about 3,933 Model SC’s per year) were produced and sold by the company—this is a total of 4,066 more SC’s produced by the Case Company than the total number of DC-3 tractors produced over the longer production run of the DC-3.  In other words from 1940 until 1955. there were about 500 more SC tractors produced each year than there were Model DC-3 tractors during the same period of time.

Among the tractors that flowed out of the J.I. Case Main Works in Racine, Wisconsin and arrived in local Case dealerships across the nation, was the two-plow Case Model SC tractor. In the years before the Second World War and in the immediate post-war years the Model SC actually outsold the larger DC-3 Case tractor.

 

Of course not every year of the production run from 1940 until 1955 was like the next.  History intervened, during this period of time, in the form of the Second World War, history from 1939 until 1955.  Involvement of the United States in the Second World War dated from the surprise bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 by the Japanese Imperial forces.  Following the Pearl Harbor attack, most heavy industrial companies, like the J. I. Case Company were required by the United States government to join the war effort, as the country fought a desperate war in two separate theaters of operations (Europe and the Pacific).  Production of civilian goods gave way to production for the war effort.  However, it took some time for the various companies to be assigned their government military contracts and to start producing wartime materials. For the Case Company production of farm tractors at their factory located in Racine, Wisconsin tapered off somewhat gradually in favor of war materials for the war effort.  The factory at Racine was called the “Main Works.”  During the war, the “Main Works” became involved in the production of bombs and artillery shells, doors for the Sherman tank and parts for the B-26 bomber.

The limited amount of tractors that were produced during the war, rolled off the assembly line at the Main Works were assigned a serial numbers in sequence regardless of the model. There are no separate serial numbers for the S-series, the D-series or the V-series tractors.  The first two numbers of any Case tractor serial number designates the year in which the tractor was assembled at the Main Works.  Even these first two numbers are hidden in some obscurity.   If the first two numbers of a particular are 44, this does not mean the tractor was produced in 1944.  Four years must be subtracted from the first two numbers of every serial number to arrive at the actual production year of the tractor.  Thus, the digits of “44,” in the serial number example cited above, stand for 1940—not for 1944.

 

 

Accordingly, in the fifth year of its production run , a particular Model SC rolled aff the assembly line at the Main Works bearing the Serial Number 4911952.  The first two digits of this particular serial number indicate that the tractor was manufactured at the Main Works in 1945.  Since production in the year 1945 began with the serial number 4900001.  Production of the Model SC with the Serial No. 4911952 must have been produced rather late in the year, 1945.  Indeed a good guess might be that it was produced in December of 1945.  As consistent readers of this blog will remember, in December of 1945, the partnership of Duane Wetter and Merle Krinke were buying property in the small town of LeRoy, Minnesota to establish what would become the local Case dealership called the “LeRoy Equipment Company.”  (See the two part series of articles called “The Rise and Decline of the LeRoy Equipment Dealorship.”

Production of the Model SC Case continued until 1954.  Over the full production run of the Model SC tractor, from 1940 until 1954, a total of 58991 individual SC tractors were made.

The Model SC tractor bearing the Serial Number lwas shipped to the Case dealership in Mankato, Minnesota and eventually sold to a particular farmer operating a farm in western Belgrade Township about 3 or 4 miles to the north of North Mankato on County Road #8 in Nicollet County Minneota.  This was the farm of our Belgrade Township farmer.   Sold into bankruptcy and No. 4911952 was sold to an auction house in Mankato kept No. 4911952 inside a storage shed or garage until an auction was held a couple months later.  At the auction, Ken Weilage purchased No. 4911925 and a couple of other tractors and took the tractors to his 5-acre hobby farm located on the east side of the Hwy. #169 between Mankato and St. Peter, Minnesota.

This hobby farm had originally been a working farm but in the 1960s the arable land of the farm was surveyed and separated from the building site of the farm.  The arable land was then sold to a neighboring farmer and the building site was sold to man who worked as a financial services manager named Ken Wielage (Tel: [507] 625-4810), who also had a hobby of collecting and restoring old farm tractors.  At this stage, No. 4911952 went through its first repainting and restoration.  Once the restoration was complete, the tractor was driven by Ken Weilage in a number of parades.  In about 1990 the tractor was sold to group of about ten (10) neighbors, who all lived along Washington Boulevard on the shore of Lake Washington, near the village of Madison Lake, Minnesota.  This group of neighbors included John Pfau, the owner of a number of Taco John restaurant franchised in Mankato, St. Peter and New Ulm and was the person who actually found the tractor was for sale by Ken Wielage, the late Ernie Weber, Gordon Strusz (at 4524 Washington Blvd. Madison Lake, Minnesota and Tel. [507] 243-3380); Ray Dumbrowski; and  John D. Jacoby who became the person who was most involved with the operation storage and repair of the tractor for the last 20 years.  At first, Washington Boulevard was a gravel rode.  The neighbors used No. 4911952 to pull an old steel-wheeled grader up and down Washington Boulevard to grade and maintain the road and the tractor was used twice a year to put the neighbors docks in Lake Washington in the spring and pulling the docks out of the waster in the autumn.

In 2013 through 2015 No. 4911952 was displayed on the Mike McCabe farm as a tractor for sale and there was seen by the current author in April of 2015 was and purchased for the Wells Family Farms collection of restored tractors. No. 4911952 is currently undergoing its second restoration.

 

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Case Farming Part IV: The LeRoy Equipment Company

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J.I. Case Company Part IV:

The Rise of the LeRoy Equipment Company

by

Brian Wayne Wells

              (As Published in the July/August 2006 of the

Belt Pulley Magazine)

Poster advertisement of the new Case dealership in LeRoy, Minnesota
Poster advertisement of the new Case dealership in LeRoy, Minnesota

All farm machinery manufacturing companies depend heavily on their various franchisees and sales staff for the success of the company. The story of the sales component of any company consists of hundreds of small individual stories. The J.I. Case Threshing Machine Company is no exception to this rule. One thread in the continuing story of the sales component of the J.I. Case Company began on a farm in Carroll County, Iowa near the small town of Lanesboro on January 1, 1914. On that day, a second child, another son was born to Otto and Hazel (Coomes) Wetter. This son was named Duane E. Wetter. Duane joined the first born, Maurice, who had been born to the family in 1913. Later in 1916, a daughter, Winifred E., born to the family. The Wetter family operated the farm in Carroll County until 1917 when they purchased another farm in Redwood County, Minnesota.   This farm was located in Woodbury, Township within Redwood County.

Just to the south of Woodbury Township lay Lamberton Township. Here on December 13, 1918, another thread in this same story, began with the birth of a fourth son, Merle to the family of John and Ella (Werner) Krinke. Both of Ella Krinke’s parents had immigrated to the United States from Prussia in Germany. While John’s father, Christian William Krinke, had also immigrated from Germany, his mother, Mary, had been born in Wisconsin. After living in Wisconsin, and near Rochester, Minnesota and near Blue Earth Minnesota, Christian and Mary (Adler) Krinke purchased a 320-acre farm three (3) miles northwest of the town of Lamberton, Minnesota in 1905. This was the farm where John Krinke grew up. In 1910, John and Ella had married. In 1912, a son, Darold was born to the couple. Then another son, Kenneth, was born in 1913. In 1914, upon the retirement of his parents, John and Ella took over total control of the farming operations. Meanwhile the family kept expanding. A third son, Donald was born in 1915. Following the birth of Merle in 1918, two daughters were born, Mildred in 1921 and Ruth in 1922. Finally, two more children, Robert born in 1925 and Betty born in 1929 rounded out the family of two parents and eight children.

On the 320-acre farm, John and Ella raised about 20 acres of rye, and 20 acres of wheat for cash crops. However, the family’s largest crop was about 100 acres of corn. Some of the corn was used as feed for the pigs and the beef cattle they also raised on the farm. However, 40-50 acres of the arable land on the farm had to be designated each year for the raising of oats to feed the many horses they used for power on the farm. As the older sons came of age, they helped their father with the field work. To effectively and efficiently operate this 320 acre farm took a lot of manpower and horsepower. As John’s sons grew up they helped their father with the work on the farm. The family had a five (5) horse hitch and a six (6) horse hitch which they employed when plowing in the fall and the spring. Including riding horses, the Krinke family at one point, owned and operated 22 horses on their farm. Additionally, the family milked 10 to 12 Milking Shorthorn cows twice a day as a part of their farming operations. Kenneth, who is currently living in Lamberton at the age of 93 years, remembers that he and his brothers each had to milk three (3) cows every morning before they headed off to school. The family also raised a substantial herd of Hereford beef cattle. Thus, another large portion of the arable land on the farm had to be set aside just for raising hay for pastures for the dairy cows, the beef herd and the horses.

Besides the substantial help provided by their boys, John and Ella still needed to hire on additional help during the busy threshing season. Sam Marburger, a bachelor farmer also living in Lamberton township had a 28” Altman-Taylor threshing machine and a steam engine that he used in the summer to perform custom threshing for other farmers in the neighborhood. By the time of the mid 1920s, farming had recovered to some degree from the post-World War I recession that had settled over the farming economy in 1921. At this time, John Krinke perceived that the work would progress much smoother during threshing season if the family had their own thresher. Accordingly, he paid a visit to Oscar Wiebold, the local J.I.Case Company dealer in Lamberton. Eventually he signed a purchase agreement for a 22” Case thresher and a crossmotor Case tractor to power the thresher. After a while they also purchased a tractor plow to be able to use the tractor in the fields as well as on the belt. Soon other neighbors were soliciting John and his sons to do the threshing on their farms also. So the family found that they could supplement their farm income with some income from custom threshing in the neighborhood. Later in the 1920s, the Krinke family obtained a Waterloo Boy tractor which was also used to power the thresher.

John continued to plant his corn with the horses and the wire check two-row corn planter. Wire checking meant that a wire with curls or “buttons” placed every 40 inches along the wire was stretched across the entire length of the field. The wire was then attached to a mechanism on the side of the planter. As the horses pulled the planter across the field, the buttons on the wire would cause the mechanism to trip both rows of the planter at the same time. Thus, not only were the rows planted 40 inches apart, but the “hills” of corn were planted 40 inches apart within the rows. This formed a perfect grid of hills in the corn field which allowed the corn to be cultivated “cross-wise” as well as length-wise. Accordingly, not only were all the weeds between the rows dug up and eliminated by the cultivator, but even the weeds between the hills within the rows were removed by “cross cultivating” the corn. Every year, corn farmers tried to cultivate every corn field on their farm three times—the first cultivation was conducted lengthwise, then the corn was cross-cultivated and finally the corn was cultivated once again in a lengthwise fashion. Cultivation of the corn, thus, required a great number of hours (or days) of work during the summer. No wonder then when a mechanical way of speeding up this summertime task was developed, farmers jumped at the chance to employ this newer method of getting the task done.

Exactly for this reason, John Krinke obtained another tractor. This tractor was a tricycle-style Farmall Model F-12 tractor.   Besides moving faster in the field and having more endurance than horses, the F-12 was designed to be fitted with a two row cultivator. Thus, tractor cultivation of the corn could proceed at a rate of two rows at a time or twenty (20) acres in a single day as opposed to a mere six (6) or eight (8) acres a day when cultivating with the horses one row at a time. John Krinke was made aware of his need to save all the time in the fields as he could. In 1934, his oldest son, Darold got married and moved onto a farm of his own. In 1936, his second son, Kenneth did the same. In 1934, Donald had graduated from high school in Lamberton and had entered Minneapolis Business School.

Meanwhile, his fourth son, Merle, was also growing up. After obtaining an eighth grade education in a country school, Merle had enrolled in Lamberton High School for the “short course.” The short course was only three (3) months long and took place in the middle of the winter. The short course was designed for farm students who needed to help their parents on the farm during the spring and the fall of the year. Also attending these short courses at Lamberton High School was Duane Wetter. Although living in separate townships, the Wetter family and the Krinke family had become acquainted with each other at the Methodist Church in Lamberton. Originally, the Wetter’s had been attending another church in the community, but when that church suddenly burned down, they began attending the Methodist Church. In their first year on their new farm in Woodbury Township Otto and Hazel Wetter had added to their family with the birth of another son, Milo in 1918. Later, two more daughters, Zona in 1920 and Donna in 1923, were added to the family. Now during the short courses at Lamberton High School, the children of both families became more closely acquainted. Furthermore, in the fall of 1932 a new teacher moved to Lamberton from Amboy, Minnesota. This new teacher was Robert W. (Bob) Olson.

Bob Olson had a fairly active life. Born in 1893 in Sterling Township in Blue Earth County near the small town of Amboy, Minnesota (1900 pop. 432), Bob had served as a United States Army pilot during World War I. Coming home from the war in late 1918, he enrolled in school at the University of Minnesota and became a teacher. While at the University he met Mabeth Starrett. They fell in love and were married in 1920. Unable to find a teaching job, Bob and Mabeth moved back to the home farm of Bob’s parents in Amboy. Rural living was a new experience for Mabeth, but she soon adapted to life on the farm where she and Bob lived for a number of years. Two children were born to the young couple—a son, Bob S. Olson in 1924 and a daughter, Helen in 1926. Bob helped his father on the large family farm. However, in 1932, Bob was hired to teach an industrial arts class at the High School in Lamberton. Accordingly, Bob and Mabeth and their children moved to Lamberton. Among the students in Bob Olson’s industrial arts class during the winter months of the 1932-1933 school year was Merle Krinke. Although Duane Wetter had graduated from Lamberton High School on the previous June 2, 1932, he may well have met Bob Olson, anyway and Bob Olson might well have had an impact on the life of Duane Wetter. At any rate the lives of Bob Olson and Duane Wetter have some surprising parallels.

Like Bob Olson, upon graduating from high school, Duane went to Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul to further his education. He attended Dunwoody Institute in Minneapolis and studied the new and growing technology of refrigeration. After finishing his studies at Dunwoody, Duane obtained employment at the Minnesota Department of Highways in 1939. That fall, war broke out in Europe. As the war stretched into its second year, United States’ involvement in the war seemed more likely all the time. Even before the United States became involved in the growing world war, Duane joined the war effort by journeying to Winnipeg, Canada, to join the Royal Canadian Air Force (R.A.F.) and became a pilot. He met and married Esther Else. Together they moved off to Sherbrook, Quebec, where Duane became a flight instructor of other prospective fighter pilots. While the couple was living in Sherbook, Esther became pregnant and gave birth to a son, Berwyn. In May of 1944, after the United States had become involved in the world war, Duane and many other American citizens serving as pilots in the Canadian R.A.F. took advantage of the agreement between Canada and the United States to transfer from the R.A.F. to the United States Army Air Corp.   (Following the Second World War, the Army Air Corp would become an independent branch of the armed forces—the United States Air Force.) Thus, Duane was shipped out to Europe as a replacement pilot attached to the 316th U.S. Fighter Squadron of the 324th Fighter Group, stationed in Luneville, France. Thus just like Bob Olson a generation earlier, here was Duane Wetter serving as a pilot for the United States Army Air Corp in a war against the Germans and stationed in France.

Duane was assigned to a Republic Company-made P-47 (Thunderbolt) fighter and began flying combat missions on February 14, 1945. He would end the war as a survivor of seventy five (75) combat flight missions and also would win a number of decorations for valour during his service in Europe. Following the war, Duane stayed on in Europe to become part of the occupation forces stationed at Stuttgart, Germany. Duane was discharged from the military and was finally able to make his way back to Minnesota only in November of 1945.

In the meantime, Bob Olson had also impacted two other students in his short time at Lamberton High School. In the industrial arts class during that school year of 1932-1933 were Donald and Merle Krinke. During the fall and spring months, the Krinke boys were needed by their parents for help on the farm. However, during the “short course” held in during the winter months both Donald and Merle sought to further their education. During the short time that the boys knew Bob Olson in the winter of 1932-1933, Bob Olson made an impression on these boys that lasted far beyond their school days.

At the end of the school year, Bob Olson made a decision to leave teaching and take advantage of a business opportunity in Lamberton. He purchased a franchise from the J.I. Case Company to sell farm machinery in the rural area around Lamberton. This was 1933, starting a business at this time appeared to be a foolish decision. Business activity all across the nation was at a standstill because of the worst economic depression in the history of the United States. Bob’s outgoing personality and business sense were assets for his new business, but the biggest asset to his new business was the improvement in the economy. As 1933 gave way to 1934, the economy started to improve ever so slightly. Everybody breathed a sigh of relief and everybody began spending money again with more confidence in the future. Farmers, began once again to feel that there was a future in their occupation and began to purchase new farm equipment.

Case Model CC left side picture
The Case Model CC tractor was first introduced to the public in 1929. This left-side view of the tractor shows the famous “chicken’s roost” steering bar that was characteristic of many early Case tricycle style tractors.

The dealership was housed together with a hardware store and a plumbing and heating business. However on the farm equipment side of his new business, Bob found that, more and more, that the row crop tractor was the single item of farm machinery that farmers wanted most. This made sense given the fact that corn was the primary crop grown in Redwood County. On average, 37.5% of all farm acreage in the county was growing corn. The second most produced crop in the county was oats—with 26.3% of all farm land in the county growing oats. However, oats and hay were grown on all farms largely as feed for the animals, in particular the horses that were used for power on the farms. If both hay (10.4% of all farm land) and oats were removed from consideration, corn then made up of 59.3% of all “cash crops” grown on the farms of Redwood County.

Small wonder then that Bob Olson found that the Case Model CC row crop tractor was in large demand by the farmers showing up at his new dealership. The row crop tractor was allowing farmers to mechanize all the farming operations on their farm especially the cultivation of corn. This meant that slow animal power could be done away with on the farm altogether. The decline in the number of horses in Redwood County, is shown in the decline in the amount of acreage devoted to oats in the county. In 1925, 123,000 acres of oats were harvested in Redwood County. On average, between 1925 and 1935 108.6 acres of oats were harvested each year in the county as a whole. However, starting in 1936, oats started to decline in importance—from 100,100 acres harvested in 1936; to 87,000 in 1938; to 84,100 acres in 1942 and finally to 79,500 acres in 1944. (To be sure, oat production made a recovery back up to an average of 103,800 acres for the period of time from 1945 to 1955. However this is due to the sudden rise of the egg production in Redwood County during the Second World War. In the immediate, post war period Redwood County became the home for 500,000 chickens who were laying upwards of 100 million eggs each year.)

Early versions of the Model CC Case tractor weighed just 3, 640 pounds and had a maufacturer's suggested price of just $1.025.
Early versions of the Model CC Case tractor weighed just 3, 640 pounds and had a maufacturer’s suggested price of just $1.025.

Bob Olson sold a great number of Model CC tractors in the first years of his dealership. In 1936, he sold a Model CC to John Krinke. This particular Model CC was fitted with rubber tires front and rear on the tractor. Donald Krinke had graduated from Lamberton High School in 1933. In 1936, Merle Krinke also graduated from Lamberton High School. Like Duane Wetter, both of the Krinke boys also headed off to college in Minneapolis. Merle entered Augsburg College and later attended the University of Minnesota just as Bob Olson had done a generation earlier. Following his higher education in Minneapolis and no doubt under the influence, to some degree, of Bob Olson, Donald Krinke sought and obtained a job as the district manager for the J.I. Case Company in the area including Redwood and neighboring counties.

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In 1939, Case introduced their “flambeau red” series of farm tractors. This Case Model DC was the top of the line row crop tractor of the flambeau red series.

 

However, in 1940, with war clouds looming, and with the United States involvement in the Second World War looking increasingly likely, the U.S. Congress re-instated the Selective Service draft. Merle Krinke’s number was drawn in the draft lottery and it was a very low number, suggesting that he was soon to be drafted into the military. Not waiting for the draft, Merle quit school and enlisted. Perhaps, the influence of Bob Olson caused him to enlist in the Army Air Corps. The Army Air Corps unit to which Merle was attached was guarding the Panama Canal. Thus, in 1940, well before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Both Duane Wetter and Merle Krinke were involved in the spreading world war.

On December 7, 1941, the United States suddenly became involved in the world war.   Merle re-enlisted and continued his service until 1945. In April of 1944, Merle was, however, permitted a 30 day leave from his military service. During this leave he returned to Lamberton, Minnesota. He had a good reason for wanting to return home at this time. He wished to get married. In the years, that he had known the Wetter family, he was attracted by Duane’s sister, Zona. They had begun seeing each other and writing each other while Merle was away in the service. Now, in 1944, while on his 30 day leave from the Air Corp, Merle and Zona had decided to marry. Thus, on April 8, 1944, they were married. All too soon, however, Merle had to return to Panama. Only at the end of the war in September of 1945 was he allowed to come home for good and resume married life. Upon his return from the military, Merle obtained a job at the the Myhere and Nelson Implement dealership in Montevideo, Minnesota. The Myhere and Nelson dealership owned the J.I. Case Company franchise for the area around Montevideo and surrounding Chippewa County. Montevideo was located on the Minnesota River about 60 miles to the northwest of Lamberton. Merle commuted to his new job while continuing to live in Lamberton. After only a very short time at his new job, in Montevideo, Merle became aware of an opportunity to open a new Case dealership in another town.

With the lifting of the wartime restrictions on the economy of the United States a huge pent-up demand for new farm machinery was unleashed. Having been unable to purchase new farm machinery all during the Second World War, farmers now poured into local dealerships to buy up the machinery that was now becoming available. Furthermore, the prices of farm commodities had reached new highs as the North American farmer attempted to feed the armed forces which were spread around the world. Since the war, the farm machinery manufacturing companies were busy not only making the new machinery as fast as they could get re-tooled from their wartime production for the armed forces, but they were also in a rush to open as many outlets from which to sell the new machinery. Record numbers of new franchises were being sold by all the farm equipment manufacturers. At the Myhere and Nelson dealership in Montevideo, Merle Krinke heard about yet another Case franchise that was being offered to anyone that was willing to start a dealership in the small town of LeRoy, Minnesota (1940 pop. 752). LeRoy, Minnesota is located in the extreme southeastern corner of Mower County, Minnesota. Mower County is situated in the Southeastern part of the state on the Minnesota/Iowa border in fact, the town of LeRoy is located only about ½ a mile from the Iowa border. Continue reading Case Farming Part IV: The LeRoy Equipment Company

Dairy Farming in Massachusetts (Part I)

                               Dairying in Eastern Massachusetts (Part 1)

by

Brian Wayne Wells

As published in the November/December 2003 issue of

Belt Pulley Magazine

Dairy farming in Massachusetts involves not only milking twice a day but also the bottling of the milk and the delivery of the bottled milk to the doors of consumers.

The small hamlet of Concord, Massachusetts is famous in American history.  In 1775, a British arsenal was located there.  On April 19 of that year, British troops seeking to secure the arsenal from the increasingly rebellious Massachusetts colony, were marching from Boston harbor toward Concord, when they were met in Lexington, Massachusetts by a collection of militia, called Minutemen.  The Minutemen had been roused from their beds early in the morning of April 19 by Paul Revere.  At Lexington, on the road to Concord, a shot rang out which became known as the “shot heard around the world.”  The battle that ensued at Lexington was the start of the American Revolutionary War.

The Minute Men monument in Lexington, Massachusetts which our Concord Town farmer drives by on a regular basis on his milk delivery route to homes in suburban Lexington.

 

In 1775, Concord was one of many small communities that dotted the Massachusetts colony.  Farm families, living in or around the settlement of Concord and the other small villages of this part of Massachusetts raised food and products largely for their own use only—subsistence farming.  Boston had little economic connection with Concord or any of the other villages of the area except in its role as a sea port.  However, as time passed, Boston became more urban and was unable to produce the food required for its citizens.  Thus, the farms of the Concord moved into the “market economy” and began producing goods for sale in Boston.

In its role as one of the major international ports of the United States, Boston grew rapidly into a major metropolitan area.  One of the major food stuffs required by Boston was fresh milk—a great deal of fresh milk.  Because of this demand for milk and because of the rocky and hilly, timbered lands of eastern Massachusetts, it was natural that farmers there specialized in dairying.

Although there was a settlement which was referred to as the village of Concord, the term “Concord Town” referred to the geographical unit, which included the rural area around the village of Concord.  By 1938, Concord (1930 pop. 7,477) was beginning to lose its rural feel and was becoming a suburb of Boston.

An aerial view of a farm very much like our Concord Town farmer’s farm.

 

One of the dairy farms that still operated in Concord Town in 1938 was operated by a particular farmer.  He lived on the 80-acre farm that had been in his father’s family dating back to the early 1800s.  He was married with four children.  Dairying had been a major part of his family farming operation since the beginning.  This job meant not only milking his herd of Guernsey cattle twice a day, but it also meant pasteurizing the milk in a large vat and then bottling the milk and delivering to the door of their customers along the milk route which was largely contained in the village of Lexington.

Purebred Guernsey milking herd lying down in the pasture in mid-morning to chew their cud after having grazed soon after the early morning milking.

 

Chores began at 5 a.m. when our Concord Town farmer would leave the house to check on the fire in the boiler in the milk house prior to heading for the barn.  As he walked to the milk house one January morning in 1938, he noted that this January was having its share of unusually cold mornings.  Arriving at the milk house, he could hardly wait to get inside and close the door behind him.  Once inside, he found that there continued to be some warmth still emanating from the firebox of the boiler.  Good!  The fire wasn’t entirely out.  He carefully removed the ash from the stove, revealing the red embers from yesterday’s fire.  After adding a handful of cedar single kindling and loading up the firebox with an arm load of wood, our Concord Town farmer, adjusted the air vents on the door of the ash compartment.  Both vents controlled the size of the fire in the firebox and, thus, controlled the heat in the boiler.  Early in the morning on a cold winter’s day like this our Concord Town Farmer would open the air vents slightly more than usual to bring the fire quickly up to normal heat.

When our Concord Town farmer arrived at the milk house on his farm in the early morning he found that the fire in the boiler had not totally gone cold. He revived the fire from the coals that had survived the with kindling first and then wood logs.

 

The firebox heated the boiler reservoir water tank located directly above the firebox.  Pipes leading from the reservoir water tank, wrapped themselves around a stainless steel tank in the milk house.  This tank contained the fresh milk from the previous evening’s milking.  Our Concord Town farmer now opened the valve on the water pipe to allow the water to start flowing through the pipes again.  The water from the boiler would flow through the pipes wrapped around the stainless steel tank would slowly begin to raise the temperature of the milk.  Raising the temperature of the milk to 72ºF would “pasteurize” the milk.  Pasteurizing the milk greatly reduces the microbial growth within the milk and prevents diseases that might be caused by drinking “raw” (unpasteurized) milk.  The temperature of the milk must be maintained at 72ºF for 12-15 seconds to be effective.   However, the temperature must not get above 72ºF, or the milk would “cook.”  Ever mindful that he did not want the temperature of the milk in the stainless steel tank to rise above 72º F, our Concord Town farmer positioned the air vents on the boiler to allow for a carefully controlled fire.  Checking the temperature of the milk in the stainless steel tank, he found that it was below 40º F.  On a morning like this there was no trouble keeping the milk cold enough.

The milk tank which was heated to only to 72 degrees Fahrenheit (F). Only just enough to pasteurize the milk and not “cook” the milk.

 

Then he was off to the barn where his son had already begun feeding the cows silage and their ration of feed grain in the bunks in front of their stanchions.  Our Concord Town farmer took the mechanical milkers from their drying racks, where they had been placed after dismantling and washing following the previous evening’s milking chores.  The mechanical milkers were now re-assembled by placing the rubber inserts into each of the teat cups on the mechanical milker.  Then he started the little “hit and miss” engine that ran the vacuum pump.  The vacuum pump was connected to a pipeline that ran down each row of stanchions on either side of the alleyway in the barn.  These pipelines contained valves and nozzles located at each stanchion.  With a hose connected to the nozzle, the mechanical milker was placed on the first cow to be milked.  Vacuum held the mechanical milker on the teats of the cow being milked.  A “pulsator” converted the vacuum into an action of vacuum and release.  This pulsator action when applied to the rubber inserts inside the four teat holders, milked the cow better than if the cow had been milked by hand.  It took only a couple of minutes for the mechanical milker to empty all four “quarters” of the udder on the first cow.  Our Concord Town farmer then turned off the vacuum valve near the nozzle of the vacuum line and then removed the milker from the cow.  He then opened the lid of the milker and dumped the milk into a pail setting in the center of the alleyway of the barn.  Then, he attached the milker to the next cow to be milked.  While the milker was milking the next cow, our Concord Town Farmer took the pail out to the milk room in the barn and dumped the contents of the pail into the milk strainer which sat on top of a 10-gallon milk can.  The strainer would remove any large impurities, like a stems of straw, that may have made its way into the milk during the milking process.

A drawing of the milk pasteurizer with a cut-away view of the mechanism on the inside.  The mechanism inside the tank stirs the warming milk so that the pasteurizing tank so that all the milk in the tank reaches 72 degrees  at the same time and then turns the heat off so that the milk is not over-heated or cooked.

 

Following the milking of the entire Guernsey herd, our Concord Town farmer would take the mechanical milkers up to the milk house.  There he would bleed off some of the hot water in the boiler reservoir tank and begin the process of disassembling, washing and disinfecting the various parts of the milkers.  The milking machines would then be hung up on the racks to allow the water to drain off and completely dry all parts of the mechanical milkers.

Father and son cleaning up the milking machines following the twice daily milking of the Guernsey herd.

 

Meanwhile, his son harnessed up the horses and brought them around to the front of the barn and hitched them to the sled that contained all the milk cans that had been filled during the morning milking.  The sled would then be driven up to the milk house where the contents of each milk can would be dumped into the stainless steel tank with the milk from the previous evenings milking.

Moving milk in 10-gallon milk cans by horse-drawn sled over the winter snows from the barn to the milk house.

 

Our Concord Town farmer’s son would open the vents on the firebox of the boiler a little more to increase the heat of the fire.  He then added some more wood to the fire and then checked the thermometer in the stainless steel tank.  The temperature of the milk in the stainless steel tank must reach 72º F, but must not rise any higher.  The hot water circulating in the pipes leading from the boiler to the stainless steel tank and returning to the boiler, would gradually raise the temperature of the milk to 72º F.  It would take about three hours.  Time enough for the empty milk cans to be thoroughly, washed, disinfected and placed in a rack upside down to completely dry.

While he washed the milk cans, his son unhitched the sled and took the horses down to the barn, hitch up the Case No. 3 manure spreader, he then let all the cows out of their stanchions and allowed them to walk out of the barn to stretch the legs and to get a drink of water at the stock tank outside the barn.  Then he pulled the manure spreader into alley way of the barn.

A Case No. 3 horse-drawn manure spreader.

 

On such a cold morning, his first task after crawling down from the manure spreader was to immediately close the barn doors behind the manure spreader in order to keep the warmth of the barn inside.  While the horses waited patiently harnessed to the front end of the manure spreader, he would clean out the gutters on either side of the alleyway.  Before loading the manure from the gutters into the manure spreader, our Concord Town farmer’s son slid his fork under each of the steel slats of the apron on the floor of the manure spreader.  He needed to make sure that none of the steel slats was still frozen to the wooden floor of the manure spreader.  He knew from experience that a broken apron chain would mean that the manure would have to be unloaded by hand, and that was something that he did not want to experience again.

After the gutters had been cleaned, he untied the reins of the harness from the left side of the manure spreader and drove the horses and the manure spreader out the doors at the opposite end of the barn into the cow yard.  Then, he returned to barn and put out fresh hay for the cows.  Meanwhile the lactating cows were starting to make their way back into the barn.  They moved by habit to their appropriate stanchion in the barn and began to eat the fresh hay that was being laid out for them.  On a usual morning, the lactating cows would have been in no hurry to get back into the barn.  And he might have to allow them to be outside for a while longer.  However, on this cold morning, the cows were gathered around the barn yard door, anxious to return to the warmth inside the barn.  Their coat of hair was rather thin and compared with the non-lactating cows and the yearlings who were used to the weather outside the barn.   After all the cows were back inside and fastened in their stanchions again, he would head to the fields with the load of manure.

He remembered to swing by the milk house on his way to the fields, just to pick up the pan of wood ashes from the boiler, which his father had places outside the milk house earlier in the morning.  The breath of the horses created visible steam as the horses walked out to the fields.  It was a cold morning, however, the sun was finally beginning to rise in the east.  He looked at the neighbors house on the next farm and saw that the smoke from the chimney was rising up into the clear sky in a tall straight ribbon.

While, our Concord Town farmer’s son was taking the manure to the field, his father was cleaning up around the milk house and kept watching the temperature of the milk in the stainless steel tank.  After about three hours, with the temperature at 72º F, the heating of the milk was stopped and then he began the bottling process.  Now, the newly pasteurized milk was bottled in one-quart bottles.  Our Concord Town farmer had ordered his bottles from the Warren Glasswork Company in New York City.  These glass bottles had been made with our Concord Township farmer’s name embossed on the side of the bottle.

A pasteurizing tank raised on a platform and with a valve on the front bottom of the tank which allows a person to fill milk bottles with the warm milk from the pasteurizing tank following the pasteurizing process.

 

As the individual bottles were filled with milk and capped, they were each placed in a bottle crate.  In summer these crates full of warm milk would have been moved immediately to the ice house on the farm to cool.  The “ice house” on the farm of our Concord Town farmer’s farm was really a cavern excavated out of a nearby hill.  On a winter’s day like this one, however, the bottled milk could merely be placed outside the milk house to be chilled.  On cold mornings like this one, the problem was to avoid having the bottled milk get too cold and to freeze inside the bottle.  Following the bottling process our Concord Town farmer went into the family’s house to get cleaned up and to change clothes.

After changing clothes, he went out to the shed and slid into the seat of his Divco Model S3 delivery truck.  The cream colored truck had his name emblazoned on both sides in bright red letters.

 

The Divco truck which our Concord Town farmer drove made his milk delivery route consume much less time than the horse-drawn milk delivery wagon.

Continue reading Dairy Farming in Massachusetts (Part I)