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Farming with a Coop E-3 Tractor in Illinois: Part 2

Farming in Illinois  with the Coop Model E-3 Tractor

 (Part 2 of 3 Parts): The Kewaunee Company

by

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 the blog portion of website called Wellssouth.com. )  Our Sterling Township farmer had purchased this tractor without the  remote hydraulic 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 Cockshutt 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 rock shaft lift arms were attached 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.

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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

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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

Farming with the Coop Model E-3 in Illinois (Part I):

Farming with a Coop Tractor (Part 1):

National Farmers Union

    by

    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.

 

 

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.

 

Founding Hall of the National Society of the Grange in Solon, Maine.

 

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 [1877]). 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.)

 

Munn vs. Illinois is argued before the United States Supreme Court.

 

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.

 

The first organizing meeting of the Farmers Union. Newt Gresham stands second from the right in the back row.

 

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).

 

Charles C. Talbot, organizer for the National Farmers Union and President of the North Dakota chapter of the Farmers Union in the 1930s.

 

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.

 

William (Bill) Thatcher (1883-1977) General Manager of the Grain Terminal Assciation

 

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.

 

Hubert Humphrey brings Bill Thatcher to the White House in April 1961 to meet President Kennedy.

Continue reading Farming with the Coop Model E-3 in Illinois (Part I):

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

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

The 1944 Farmall Model H Tractor

by

Brian Wayne Wells

Fuzzy newly formed seed-pods of the soy-bean plant
Fuzzy newly formed seed-pods of the soy-bean plant

As noted, previously, Butternut Valley Township is located in the extreme northwestern corner of Blue Earth County, Minnesota.  (See the first article in this series called “Soybean Farming in Butternut Valley Township [Part 1]” also published in the blog section of this website.)   Also, as previously noted, in 1942 Butternut Valley Township was the home of a particular diversified 160 acre family farming operation.  Our Butternut Valley Township farer and his wife had lived on this farm since they were married in 1919.  As a diversified farming operation, he and his wife milked a Holstein dairy herd, raised pigs and had a chicken flock.  They sold milk and eggs off the farm for regular income.  Each summer they marketed the pigs they had raised to provide cash income in the summer.  In the fields, they raised oats and hay.  Originally the oats were raised to feed their horses as well as their chickens and the hay was used to feed both the cows and the horses.

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

 

Since obtaining a “used” 1929 Farmall Regular tricycle-style tractor in 1937, he had greatly reduced the number of horses his farm.  Thus, he had been able to reduce the number of acres planted to oats and hay each year.  The largest crop on the farm was corn.  Part of the corn crop was cut in August each year, while it was still green.  This corn was then fed into the silo filler and blown into the silo which stood next to the barn.  The silage in the silo would be used all winter to feed the dairy herd.  The remaining corn would be picked in the late autumn and the ears of corn would be stored in the corn crib.  Part of this corn would be shelled and saved to fatten the pigs for market.  The rest of the corn would be sold to provide cash income in the winter.  Consequently, the corn was a cash crop as well as source of animal food.

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

 

Since the attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese in December of 1941, a new market for plastics had arisen.  Soybeans was the main raw product used in making plastics.  Accordingly, since 1941,. the market price for soybeans had been soaring.  Because he now planted less acres in hay and oats, our Butternut Valley Township farmer decided to plant that extra acreage to soybeans in the spring of 1942.  The growing season of 1942 was almost perfect.  Both soybeans and corn were bumper crops.  Furthermore, the price of these two farm products rose to high levels.  Consequently, our Butternut Valley Township farmer had one of his best years in terms of farm income.  As a result, he seriously think about upgrading his farming operation by trading the old 1929 Farmall Regular in on the purchase of a new modern farm tractor.

The gray Farmall with red-colored wheels.

 

After selling his corn, our Butternut Valley Township farmer was able to pay off all his debts and find that he still had a comfortable balance of funds in the bank.  As a result, he again visited the Fesenmaier Hardware dealership.  He had heard rumors that more Famall H’s with rubber tires were starting to be manufactured, again, due to the fact that more rubber was starting to be released by the government for civilian production.  This time he told the staff at the Fesenmaier dealership to place his name on the list for a rubber-tired Farmall H.  However, he told them he only wanted a Farmall H with rubber tires, electric starting and hydraulics.  He needed the new tractor now more than ever before.

Wartime advertisement of the Farmall Model H.

 

In the spring of 1943, our Butternut Valley Township farmer increased the amount of acreage he planted to soybeans.  He kept waiting for his Farmall H to arrive at the Fesenmaier Hardware dealership.  However, very few Farmall Model H tractors arrived at the dealership in New Ulm, Minnesota in 1943 because the manufacturing capacity of the International Harvester Company was still being dominated by government-military contacts.  By 1943, ⅔ or 66.6% of the Company’s sales contracts were for military hardware.  (Barbara Marsh, A Corporate Tragedy: The Agony of International Harvester  p. 71.)  Consequently, production of farm tractors by the IHC declined even more.  Although already greatly curtailed, production of the Farmall Model H fell off by another 6% in 1943 when compared with the previous year.  Rubber pneumatic tires for the Farmall H had been almost totally unavailable since July of 1942.  However, starting in July of 1943 rubber tires for the Farmall H started to become available again on a limited basis.  (Guy Fay and Andy Kraushaar, Farmall Letter Series Tractors [MBI Publishing Co.: Osceola, Wisconsin, 1998] p. 73.)  Thus, the rumors that our Butternut Valley Township farmer had heard in the early spring of 1943, that rubber tires were once again becoming available for Farmall tractors, proved to be a bit premature. Continue reading Soybean Farming in Butternut Township (Part 2 of 2parts)

Allis-Chalmers Farming (Part IV): A 1938 A-C Model WC at Work

Statistics recorded with Counterize - Version 3.1.4

A 1938 Allis-Chalmers Model WC Tractor 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.

The province of Smalund is located in the southeastern part of Sweden. In the nineteenth century Smalund became impoverished and a great number of residents of Smalund emigrated out of Sweden and settled in great numbers in Minnesota in the 1880s.

 

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.

The young Albert E. Anderson.

 

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.

A blacksmith shop located in Smalund Sweden which has been restored back to the 1880s.

 

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.

Loaded with emigrants from all over Scandinavia, the S. S. Oscar II leaves one of its regularly stops in Christiana (Oslo), Norway on its way from Copenhagen, Denmark to New York.

 

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.

Immigrants on the staircase in the Grand Hall of Ellis Island were unaware that they were being carefully watched as they climbed the stairs. The speed and ease with which they climbed the stairs became the main “medical examination” for most immigrants that passed through Ellis Island.

 

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.

The granary in Huntley, Minnesota is one of the few active buildings existing in the small unincorporated town of 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.

The Albert Anderson family during the Second World War. (left to right) daughter Florence on left, son Paul C., Albert’s wife Phoebe, Albert himself looking down at the dog and then their youngest son Albert Eldon on the right side of the picture. .

 

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.

Image result for Allis-Chalmers Manufacturing Company
The Allis-Chalmers “Tractor Works” in West Allis, Wisconsin. The rapid increase in the popularity of the row crop style Model WC tractor, put pressure on the Tractor Works for increased production and also on the sales network for expansion of the local dealerships.

 

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 a “new” 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.

The bottom two counties on this map are Faribault and Martin Counties locat3d on the Minnesota and Iowa border. These counties encompassed the marketing territory encompassed by the Allis-Chalmers franchise sold to Albert Anderson of Huntley, Minnesota.

 

Continue reading Allis-Chalmers Farming (Part IV): A 1938 A-C Model WC at Work

Allis-Chalmers (Part III): The Two-Row Mounted Corn Picker

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