The 1954 Farmall Super MTA from South Dakota

The 1954  Farmall Model Super MTA from South Dakota

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 Farmall M is the very popular tractor that has captured the affection of a great number of the collectors of International Harvester tractors.  However, a great number of devotees of the Farmall M, will probably admit that their favorite version of the M is that final iteration of the M series–the Super MTA.  This was true in the family of the current author as both he and his brother–Mark Wells have longed since childhood to have a Super MTA of their own.  The Wells family did not keep this desire to own a Farmall Super MTA a secret from their friends and aquaintances–including Bill Radil.

Accordingly, when, in December of 2018, Bill Radil of Montgomery, Minnesota decided to sell the Super MTA that he had owned for about eight years, he turned to the Wells family.  Bill informed Mark Wells that he offered to give the Wells family the first right of refusal on sale of the tractor.  Needless to say, there was no refusal.  Rather there was an immediate acceptance of the offer to sell the Farmall Super MTA.  Indeed,  payment for the tractor was concluded before the end of the month. 

 

When purchased brom Bill Radil the 1954 Super MTA was in its original unrestored condition.

 

Once the sale of the tractor was concluded, the current author instinctively began to research as much of the history of the tractor as he could research.   Bill Radil had owned the Super MTA since about 2010.  While he did not have a great deal of information about the person who had sold the Super MTA to him, Bill did know the tractor had come from South Dakota.  

Because the tractor is a tricycle-style tractor it stands to reason that the tractor must have come from a row crop growing area of South Dakota.  The row crop growing area of South Dakota is located in the east part of the state.  The western part of South Dakota tends to be too dry and hot in during the summer to grow corn, soybeans and other row crops profitably,  This hot and dry climate of the western South Dakota is better suited to the raising of cereal grains like wheat, rye and barley.   

 Indeed, the states of South Dakota, North Dakota, and, actually,  all states down to the Rio Grande River, through which the 100th meridian passes, are divided by the 100th meridian into two major climatic areas.  To the west of the 100th meridian the climate tends to be  dry and hot in the summer–too hot and dry to be efficient for the raising of row crops like corn, soybeans and editable beans.  This makes the most of the area of west of the 100th meridian more suitable for raising for large scale (horizon to horizon) farming of cereal grains like wheat, rye and barley abound.  While to the east of the 100th meridian the abundant rain and rich soil tends to be more appropriate for the raising of row crops like corn and soybeans.  Indeed, the 100th meridian neatly divides the whole of North America into the row-crop Midwest on the east and the horizon to horizon Great Plains

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The 100th Meridian is regarded as the boundary between the Midwestern region of the United States from the drier and hotter Great Plains region.

Actually, in recent times many climate scientists have pointed  out that the modern day boundary between the row crop growing area of eastern South Dakota and the drier and hotter wheat growing area of western South Dakota has been moving far east of the 100th meridian because of climate change.

 

Climate scientists suggest that the actual climatalogical boundary between the Midwest and the Grain Plains of the United States has moved far east of the 100th Meridian. As the above map reveals, for South Dakota the climatological boundary may have already reached the western border of Minnesota.

 

 Indeed, the states of South Dakota, North Dakota, and, actually,  all states down to the Rio Grande River, through which the 100th meridian passes, are divided by the 100th meridian into two major climatic areas.  To the west of the 100th meridian the climate tends to be  dry and hot in the summer–too hot and dry to be efficient for the raising of row crops like corn, soybeans and editable beans.  This makes the most of the area of west of the 100th meridian more suitable for raising for large scale (horizon to horizon) farming of cereal grains like wheat, rye and barley abound.  While to the east of the 100th meridian the abundant rain and rich soil tends to be more appropriate for the raising of row crops like corn and soybeans.  Indeed, the 100th meridian neatly divides the whole of North America into the row-crop Midwest on the east and the horizon to horizon Great 

Codington County was a typical agricultural community in eastern South Dakota.  The United States Department of Agriculture (U.S.D.A.) had reported in their 1940 census that 91.7% of the county land area was taken up by operating farms.  There were 1,170 individual operating farms in Codington County the average size of a farm in Codington County was 346.7 acres.  

 

A county map of South Dakota showing the location of Codington County in the eastern part of the state.

 

Between, 1941 and 1945, however, World War II had caused substantial changes to farming in Codington County.  United States government purchasing of agricultural products to feed the troops in two theaters of war, tended to drive up prices of farm commodities to record high levels.  By 1945, although the total land area of the county under operating farms had increased to 95.1%, the number of operating farms in the county had decreased to 1,155 individuals farms.  However, the average size of the the individual farm actually increased to 364.1 acres per farm.  Obviously, the war had caused a substantial consolidation of farming in Codington County.  Farms had been sold and merged with other farming operations resulting in larger individual farms.  One might have anticipated that trend toward consolidation would have continued in the post war era.  However the 1950, U.S.D.A. agricultural census revealed that the number of individual operating farms in Codington County had the percentage of land area in the county increased slightly to 95.5 %, the number of farms increased to 1,160 farms.  Furthermore, the average size of an operating farm in the county in 1950 fell to 360.2acres.  These last to facts seem to suggest that the consolidation trend of the war years had been reversed.  However, this reversal can probably be explained by the fact that many of the returning veterans of the Second World War were entering farming.  Most of these veterans would be taking over their parents home farms.  However at least some were starting from scratch and having to purchase their own farms.  This would result in a larger number of farms for the period of time immediately following the Second World War. 

Just 4 years later, 1954, the percentage of land in Codington County under agricultural production fell to 91.6%.  The number of individual farms in Codington County decreased to 1,078 operating farms and the average size of a farm in Codington County had grown to 375.9 acres.  The period from 1950 until 1953 was the period of United States involvement in the Korean War.  Just as with the Second World War, there was an increase in farm produce commodity prices with the coming of the war.  Although the Korean War was actually a military campaign carried out under the United Nations and although many nations sent contingents soldiers to defend South Korea to 

The United States had a large contingent of soldiers involved      

 

Although state-wide across South Dakota as a whole there had been a decrease in the number of operating farms from 72,454 farms in the 1940  68,705 farms in 1945 to  s the Now in the post-war the the recent war–

 

Located in the eastern part of South Dakota is Codington County.  The population of the county as a whole had been 18,944 in the 1950 census.  This was an increase in population of 11.3% from the pre-war, 1940, population figure of 17,014.  The United States Department of Agriculture found that in 1940 

 

 

Along the eastern edge of the county are three (3) townships, running north to south.  Of the three the center township is Waverly Township.  This township is the home of a particular diversified farming operation of a particular farmer–our Waverly Township farmer. 

 

A township map of Codington County shows three townships along the eastern boundary of the county the center township (here colored in orange) is Waverly Township.

 

The county seat and largest City in Codington County is Watertown (1950 pop. 12,699)  The population of Watertown had risen 19.6% from the 1940 population of 10,617. 

The Ramona, Kansas, 1935 John Deere Model D bearing the Serial No. 123360

The John Deere Model D bearing the Serial No. 123360: The Ramona Kansas Tractor

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.

 

A restored 1935 John Deere D tractor, similar to the Ramona tractor when sold new through the Tatje Bros. Implement dealership of Ramona, Kansas.

 

As noted in the article called “Alfred Fulcher and the Cresco Implement Company of Cresco, Iowa” which is  included as part of this website and blog, Wells Family Tractors obtained a 1935 “unstyled” John Deere Model D tractor upon the recommendation of Marilyn (Hanks) Wells, mother of the current author.  Marilyn Wells had always been intrigued by the Model D because a 1931 version of the tractor had been the first tractor that her father,  Howard B. Hanks, grandfather of the current author, had ever owned.

On the right is a county map of Iowa, highlighting the location of Howard County. On the left is an outline of Howard County with the town of Cresco highlighted.

This 1931 two-speed Model D was first purchased by John T. Goff in 1931 from Beske Implement of Minnesota Lake, Minnesota.  The story of this 1931 John Deere Model D is contained in an article called “Beske Implement of Minnesota Lake, Minnesota” which is contained in this website and blog.  Howard and his  wife, Ethel (Buck) Hanks, rented the John T. Goff farm in Mapleton, Minnesota in 1935 and continued to operate the farm until March 1, 1945, when they purchased the “Bagan farm” in Beaver Township, Fillmore County, Minnesota, near LeRoy, Minnesota.

This 1926 two-speed John Deere Model D is similar to the John T. Goff/Howard Hanks 1931 two-speed John Deere Model D.

While on the Goff farm Howard Hanks used the 1931 Model D on a near daily basis and came to appreciate power farming.  Thus, in 1945, as the Hanks family moved off the Goff farm to take possession of the Bagan farm in Fillmore county, they purchased the 1931 John Deere Model D from John T. Goff and transported the tractor to the Bagan farm near LeRoy, Minnesota.

Howard Hanks and 11-year old Bruce Hanks operate the 1931Goff/Hanks two-speed John Deere Model D plowing in the fields in 1935 on the Goff farm south of Mapleton, Minnesota.

By 1950, Howard and his oldest son Fred Hanks, were farming the Bagan farm as a partnership.  Fred had been pushing to modernize the farm with newer farm machinery.  Thus, when Howard and Fred were on Sunday afternoon sightseeing  trip in August of 1950, they saw a 1935 three-speed John Deere Model D sitting on the used tractor lot of the John Deere dealership in Cresco, Iowa, they decided to stop and look at the tractor.  In the post-World War II era old steel-wheeled, two-speed tractors like the 1931 Model D with its top speed of only 3-1/4 miles per hour, were really becoming obsolete on a modern post-war farm.  However, Howard loved the old Model D.  While recognizing the shortcomings of the 1931, two-speed Model D, he was favorably disposed toward obtaining this newer version of the same tractor–especially a Model D with rubber tires and a 5 mile an hour top speed.  Accordingly, Howard and Fred purchased the 1935 Model D from the Cresco Implement Company in exchange for the 1931 Model D and some additional “boot” money.  This 1935 Model continued to be employed on the Bagan (now Hanks) farm until the 1970s, when the tractor was sent to the Francis Mims junk yard.

A more detailed discussion of this 1935 Model D is contained in the article called Al Fulcher and the Cresco Implement Company dealership which is a part of this website and is cited above.   Continue reading The Ramona, Kansas, 1935 John Deere Model D bearing the Serial No. 123360