St. Peter Implement Company& the Holmberg/Weyl John Deere Model G Tractor


                                        St Peter Implement Company and

the 1948 Holmberg/Weyl John Deere Model G


Brian Wayne Wells

The first edition of this article was published in the

November/December 2000 issue of

Belt Pulley Magazine

However, since the article has been brought to this website new information has been added to the article that was not part of the oringinal article in the Belt Pulley version.  Furthermore, this article remains under construction as new information continues to be added to the article.   

Along with the celebration of V-J Day which brought an end to the Second World War in 1945 was the anticipated ending of rationing of new farm machinery.  During the war, farmers had been called upon to raise crops from fence-row to fence-row in order to meet the needs of the nation.  In addition, farmers had been expected to operate under the restrictions of having to keep their old pre-war farm machinery functioning.  Most of the iron, rubber and other raw materials which would have gone into the production of new farm machinery had been diverted into war production.  Now, with the end of the war, there was a tremendous demand for new farm machinery.  This demand created new opportunities in sales of new farm equipment.  Among the businesses that felt this change was the Nicollet County Hybrid Seed Company of St. Peter, Minnesota (1940 pop. 5870).

St Peter is another of the small communities on the Minnesota River, located 29 miles up river from Jordan, Minnesota, the home of the Grams and Krautkremer Hardware store (see the article on page 16 in the July/August 2000 issue of Belt Pulley), and 10 miles up river from LeSueur, Minnesota, home of the Ray Christian/Easterlund Implement dealership (see the article on page 18 in the September/October 2000 issue of Belt Pulley).  St. Peter is a beautiful town with wide main street (Minnesota Avenue) and its Minnesota Square Park betraying the marks of its early, well-planned development when it was anticipated that St. Peter would be the capital of the entire state.  That anticipation, however, was thwarted in 1857 when the territorial legislature reconfirmed that St. Paul would be the capital of Minnesota when the state entered the union in 1858, and St. Peter had to content itself with being the county seat of Nicollet County.

Nicollet County stretches westward from the Minnesota River.  Thus, although St. Peter is the county seat, the town is situated on the very eastern edge of the county.  Across the Minnesota River to the east of St. Peter lies southwestern LeSueur County.

Served by a main branch of the Chicago Northwestern Railroad running along the east bank of the Minnesota River from Mankato, Minnesota, through St. Peter and on through the small towns of LeSueur, Belle Plaine and Jordan before arriving in Minneapolis/St. Paul, St. Peter was connected with the rest of Nicollet County to the west by a branch line of the Chicago Northwestern Railroad.  Although now abandoned, the branch line ran out along Ninth Street just below the hill from Gustavus Adolphus College before leaving St. Peter to the northwest, arching around and heading off to the southwest, passing through the small village of Nicollet, Minnesota (1940 pop. 434), before passing over into Brown County at the German settlement of New Ulm (1940 pop. 8,743).

From its location on land leased from the Chicago Northwestern Railroad just south of the current location of South Elementary School, the Nicollet County Hybrid Seed Company had expanded over the years.  Early on, it had obtained a franchise for selling Chrysler/Plymouth automobiles and a franchise for selling John Deere farm equipment in addition to hybrid seed.  The Nicollet County Hybrid Seed Company was owned and operated by Lyle Churchill.  Now, with the huge explosion of demand for new farm equipment, Lyle Churchill suddenly found that the business he was operating had become too large and unwieldy to be operated as a sole proprietorship.  Further complicating his business affairs was the fact that he also owned the Arlington Implement Company of Arlington, Minnesota (1940 pop 1,222), approximately 30 miles to the north, which was the John Deere dealership franchise for that community.  Therefore, some simplicity was needed to run the business efficiently.  Consequently, in 1946, Lyle Churchill sold off the hybrid seed part of the Nicollet County Hybrid Seed Company, which then moved to a new location on the corner of Third Street and Broadway in St. Peter and continued under that name.  Further, Lyle and his wife also sold off the Chrysler/Plymouth franchise part of the dealership, which was then relocated in a building at the corner of Broadway and Minnesota Avenue, and it became St. Peter Auto Sales.  Retaining what he felt would surely be the most lucrative part of the business–the John Deere dealership franchise–Lyle Churchill then moved across the Minnesota River to the LeSueur County side.

Because of its location on the Minnesota River, some of St. Peter’s development spilled over into LeSueur County, on the east side of the river.  This location had special appeal to Lyle because of its close proximity to the main north and south tracks of the Chicago Northwestern railroad and the Chicago Northwestern freight depot.  Also located on the east side of the river were Hanson Silo Company, the Cargill grain drying and storage facilities, the Hormel livestock buying station, and the large Peavy Company grain elevator.  These businesses brought a heavy amount of rural farm customers to this particular area of St.Peter; especially, the Peavy grain elevator which bought a great deal of the farm products–including sugar beets–grown in the rural St. Peter area during this time.  It was the vacant lot between the elevator and Highway #99 that caught Lyle’s eye.  This location was sure to be convenient for the farm traffic which was headed to the grain elevator.  Thus, he purchased the lot for the new John Deere dealership which he was to name the St. Peter Implement Company.

Because there were no buildings at the new site, a new one had to be constructed.  Even though he had sold off two parts of his St. Peter business, Lyle Churchill soon found that his ownership of the Arlington Implement Company as well as the new St. Peter dealership stretched his resources near the limit.  In Arlington, although he owned the Arlington Implement Company together with Jack Barnard, Jack was working full-time as an agronomist for the Green Giant Canning Company in LeSueur, Minnesota, and served only as a “silent partner” with Lyle in that business.  As a silent partner, Jack had invested some of the capital that was needed for the dealership, but left the day-to-day management to the active partner–Lyle Churchill.  Now finding himself in need of more capital for the St. Peter dealership, Lyle turned again to Jack, who agreed to put up the additional capital needed to buy the land and construct the building.  Once again, Jack would serve as a silent partner and leave the active running of the affairs to Lyle.

To be sure, the market for new farm machinery was burgeoning in the years immediately following the war.  The buyers in this market, however, were of a different type than previously.  The post-war market wanted tractors with more power–three-bottom plow power rather than two-bottom plow tractors.  As noted previously, in 1946 sales of the Model A exceeded sales of the Model B for the first time and for the remainder of the production run of the two tractors.  (The article “Al Fulcher and the Cresco Implement Company” in the May/June 2000 issue of Belt Pulley magazine, citing the article “Taking a Look at the Late Styled Model A: 1947-1952” by J.R. Hobbs in the July 1996 issue of Green magazine.)  Similarly, although the three-plow Farmall M outsold the two-plow Farmall H in 1939 (the very first year of its manufacture), the Model H was the leading seller for the International Harvester Company for the rest of the period of time prior to and during the Second World War.  In 1947, however, the Farmall M replaced the two-plow Farmall H as the sales leader and remained the leader until the introduction of the Model 300 and Model 400 tractors.

Part of the need for more horsepower in row-crop tractors was the fact that the new post-war market for farm machinery was plunging headlong into the four-row system of farming of corn and soybeans.  In 1947-48, George Wagner and Bruno Wacker were already farming by means of the four-row system of row-crop farming on their farms in eastern Sibley County, just north of St. Peter.  (See the article on the Ray Christian/Easterlund Implement dealership in the September/October 2000 issue of Belt Pulley.)

In the post-war era, John Deere tractor production posed a particular problem for dealerships:  there was no longer just one model of 3-plow tractor available from John Deere dealerships, but, rather, there were two models–the Model A and the Model G.  Originally, this was not intended to have been the case.  The 16.22 drawbar-hp. Model A had been introduced in 1934 as a new improved replacement for the tricycle style General Purpose Wide Tread (GPWT) tractor.  In 1935, the 11.84 drawbar-hp. Model B was introduced as a tractor “2/3 the size, horsepower and weight” of the Model A.  (J.R. Hobbs, “The Unstyled Model B” in the July 1995 issue of Green Magazine, p. 20.)  In 1938, John Deere introduced the 20.75 drawbar-hp. Model G tractor.  Thus, John Deere had a one-plow tractor, a two-plow tractor and a three-plow tractor in its tractor line.  However, while the Model A and Model B tractors continued to be improved and streamlined, improvements of the Model G were delayed.  Over the years, improvements to the Model A had increased its horsepower until, in 1946, the “gasoline version” had virtually the same horsepower as the all-fuel Model G.  Therefore, both tractors were considered 3-plow tractors.  Ironically, among the main competitors of the John Deere Model G was the gasoline version of the John Deere Model A tractor.  (J.R. Hobbs, “When the Going Got Tough, the ‘New G’ Led the Way” in the September 1996 Green Magazine, p. 24.)  Just as the Ray Christian Implement dealership located down the river at LeSueur found the John Deere Model A tractor to be the most popular seller in the John Deere line, so too did Lyle Churchill.  However, some farmers were purchasing Model G’s during this period because they preferred the increased weight (6,056 lbs. for the Model G versus 5,228 lbs for the Model A) and the increased cylinder displacement (6-1/8″ by 7″ bore and stroke for the Model G versus 5-1/2″ by 6-3/4″ for the Model A) as a way of obtaining more torque and the lugging ability needed in really heavy soils.  (C.H. Wendel, Nebraska Tractor Tests, [Motorbooks International Publishers: Osceola, Wisc., 1985].)  In the model year 1948, generally these Model G’s would be sold together with a 3-bottom Model 55 plow and a four-row ABG-400 series cultivator.  

The John Deere Model No. G, bearing the Serial No. 29039 visits the remains of the old John Deere Tractor Works in Waterloo, Iowa,  where it was built on December 18, 1947. No. 29039 was making its way from Minnesota to West Virginia in the summer of 2012, where it would be painted.

One such Model G tractor, Serial No. 29039, rolled off the assembly line in  Waterloo, Iowa, on December 18, 1947, about a year and half after Lyle Churchill had established his dealership on Highway #99.  (This tractor was the subject of an article “You Know, I Always Wanted One of Those” written by the present author’s brother, Mark Howard Wells, appearing in the September/October 2000 issue of Belt Pulley magazine, at p. 12.)  The next day, on December 19, 1947, No. 29039 was shipped out of Waterloo on board an Illinois Central train destined for St. Peter, Minnesota.

A map of the Midwestern United States showing the extent of the Illinois Central Railroad and its northern terminous located at Albert Lea, Minnesota.

The Illinois Central Railroad advertised itself as the only north-south railroad in the midwestern United States.  The Illinois Central rail new work ext     network of rail lines stretched all the way from the Gulf of  Mexico to Chicago and on north to Albert Lea, Minnesota.     xedtrain, following the same trek north to the Minnesota State line as was taken by the Goff/Hanks 1931 John Deere Model D in 1931 (see the article “Beske Implement of Minnesota Lake, Minnesota” in the March/April 2000 issue of Belt Pulley), would pass through the small border town of Lyle, Minnesota and travel on to the end of the Illinois Central rail line in Albert Lea, Minnesota.

  transfer to a Chicago Milwaukee St. Paul & Pacific Railroad (Milwaukee Road) train at Albert Lea, Minnesota; and then make connections in Wells, Minnesota.  The train, with the flat-bed railroad car bearing No. 29039, would then continue up the Milwaukee Road tracks, past Minnesota Lake and make another connection in Mankato with a Chicago Northwestern train headed up the Minnesota River Valley to Minneapolis/St. Paul.  The first stop out of Mankato for this train would be the Chicago Northwestern freight depot at St. Peter, very close to the new St. Peter Implement building.  Once in St. Peter, No. 29039 was off-loaded at the freight depot, where it was picked up by some of the employees of St. Peter Implement and taken the short distance to the dealership to be “prepped” for sale to a prospective buyer.

Along the way on the trip to West Virginia in the summer of 2012, No. 29039 stopped off at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana to visit the famous “round” barns located on the campus.

One prospective buyer could be reached by travelling west on Broadway Avenue, back across the Highway #99 bridge to the west, through the intersection of Minnesota Avenue and Broadway where St. Peter Auto Sales was now located on the northeast corner, then proceeding straight past the new location of the Nicollet County Hybrid Seed Company at Broadway and Third Street, turning northwest onto Highway #22, and then turning to the left onto County Road #15 before leaving the St. Peter City limits.  Once out of the city limits of St. Peter, County Road #15 travels up and out of the valley and out onto the flat plains of central Nicollet County.  This is Traverse township.  Here lived our farmer who had expressed interest in just such a new tractor.

In the years just prior to the recent war, our Traverse township farmer had mechanized his 160-acre diversified farm with an un-styled John Deere Model A.  With its two-plow and two-row capacity, he had been able to become “established” on his farm due to the relatively high prices his farm produce had fetched in the marketplace during the war.  During the war, he had kept his un-styled John Deere A functioning by performing much of the routine maintenance of the tractor himself, regularly lubricating the tractor every few days of work, and changing the oil at the beginning and end of the season at a frequency of every few weeks during periods of heavy usage.  He tried to follow the timetable prescribed by the owner’s manual which recommended oil changes every 60 hours of work.  For the oil change in the late fall, he changed from the S.A.E. 40 weight oil that he used throughout the summer to S.A.E. 20-W weight oil for usage during the winter.  While changing the oil, he also found it was easy to do the additional job of tightening the connecting rod bearings.  To perform this procedure, he needed only to remove the top cover to the crankcase, unbolt the connecting rod caps and remove a couple of the laminated layers of the brass shims between the connecting rod and the cap until the cap and connecting rod fit snugly against the crank shaft journal when the bolts were tightened to their proper tension again.

Two-cylinder engines needed to have this procedure done more often than smoother running, four-cylinder engines.  Still, our farmer found that such a procedure could be done easily in his own shed during the winter season.  Our Traverse Township farmer also appreciated that the John Deere two-cylinder design, with the cylinders positioned in the engine horizontally rather than vertically, allowed him to perform this work quickly and easily as he stood beside the engine looking down on the work, rather than lying on his back looking up into the bottom of the engine, as he would have had to do with conventional engine blocks with vertical cylinders.

He really had only a few concerns about his John Deere Model A.  Among these was the fact that at some locations on his farm, and under special weather conditions, the rich black gumbo soil would cause his Model A to work excessively hard and sluggish.  He attempted to solve this problem by cutting down the rear steel wheels and adding rims and rubber tires to the rear of the tractor.  He then added calcium chloride to the rear tires, which added a tremendous amount of weight to the tractor.  Nevertheless, the Model A still seemed to have trouble in heavy soil conditions.  Also, our Traverse township farmer did not feel that the competitors to the John Deere A offered any better solution to this problem.  Brand-loyalty to a particular manufacturer of a tractor has always been a common feature of farmers around the world.  Our Traverse Township farmer was no exception.  The ease of working on John Deere tractors as well as the lower initial cost had made him brand-loyal to John Deere equipment.

Now, after supper in 1947, as he rose from the table and went into the living room to sit in his chair, listen to the radio and pick up the latest issue of the Furrow magazine, our farmer knew that the post-war ear was revealing itself as a new world–something totally different from the farming world of the wartime and pre-war era.  Since the war, he had begun to see that the future of agriculture was moving securely toward 3-bottom plow power and four-row crop planting and cultivating systems.  Like many farm families in the St. Peter area, our Traverse township farmer and his family had been attending the John Deere Day open houses held at the St. Peter Implement dealership in St. Peter.  Ever since the last open house in early February, he had been reviewing in his mind the possibility of upgrading his mechanized farming operations with a four-row corn planter, a four-row cultivator and a three-bottom plow.  He had paid special attention to the advertising movies played at the John Deere Day which had featured the new Model B, A and G tractors.  He learned that the new Cyclone pistons, with the “eyebrow” on the top of the piston placed near the intake valve to create “turbulence” of the air and gas mixture within the piston, had been fitted into John Deere tractors.  Other improvements were made to the tractors which resulted in an increase in horsepower.  Noting there was very little difference between the Model A and Model G tractors in terms of horsepower rating, our Traverse township farmer found that the real secret to field performance was the actual lugging ability.  John Deere advertised the Model G as the “heavy duty” three-bottom plow tractor with the capability of functioning on the lower priced fuels.  As he compared the two tractors, our farmer found that the Model G had much greater torque and greater weight which translated into greater lugging ability.  He recognized that there was really very little difference in the price of the “low priced” distillate and the “higher priced” gasoline.  He also recognized something that was not mentioned at the John Deere Day open house but was commonly known among his neighbors:  the Model G had a reputation of being a “thirsty” tractor, as noted in the article by Mark Wells mentioned above.  (This fact has been brought home to the present author on at least two occasions when he has run out of gas while using Model G Serial No. 29039 on the “people mover” transporting the public to and from the parking lot at the LeSueur County Pioneer Power Show.)  Still, our Traverse township farmer noted well the point that the Model G had “buckets more torque” than the Model A.  He felt that when moving from two to three bottoms for plowing, he would need all the additional torque and lugging ability the tractor could muster.  Consequently, he felt that the disadvantages of the Model G in terms of additional operating fuel costs would be more than offset by the better performance in the heavy soil conditions that occasionally plagued him.

Thus, because of a well-reasoned loyalty to John Deere tractors based on his past experience and because of his knowledge of the tough, heavy, soil conditions which could arise on his farm, our Traverse township farmer finally settled on a plan of trading in his old unstyled Model A two-row Model 999 horse-drawn corn planter which he had converted into a tractor-drawn model, his two-row Model GPA 262 and his two-bottom Model 4A plow to the dealership for a new Model G tractor, a Model 490 four-row corn planter, an G-400 Series four-row cultivator and a three-bottom 55B plow with 16″ bottoms.  He had already been in preliminary discussions with Lyle Churchill about just such a deal, but now, in December 1947, as he got up from the chair and peered out the window into the clear, cold, full moon night at the flat snow covered fields of his farm one last time before he headed to bed, our Traverse township farmer thought that tomorrow he would go to St. Peter and finalize the deal for the new farm machinery

This is exactly what he did, and the tractor he brought home for the 1948 growing season was Serial No. 29039.  Because he raised only corn and soybeans as row crops and did not raise sugar beets as some of his neighbors were doing, he would not have to purchase the specialty options of the Model GN with its narrower rear axle housing and single front wheel.  (A Model GN of this configuration can be seen on page 21 of the March/April 2000 issue of Two Cylinder magazine.)  Instead, No 29039 had two wheels with 6.00 by 16″ 6 ply tires up front.  Electric starting and lights had been made standard equipment on the Model G in 1947 and the battery was located under the seat.  Although 29039 came with a rock shaft and the remote cylinder, our Traverse township farmer did not order a hydraulic Model 55H plow to go with the tractor.  Instead, he preferred the rope trip clutch style of plow and ordered the Model 55B with 3-16″ bottoms.  Because of this, he had to purchase from a third party a clip to mount on the big square seat of No. 29039 to hold the trip rope.  (This clip is still mounted on the tractor seat of No. 29039.)  The base cost of the Model G on September 1, 1944 was $1,267.00.  (“The John Deere Model ‘G’ Series of Tractors” Two Cylinder March/April 2000, p. 15.)  However, now, in the post-war period, the tractor’s price was on a steep increase.  By March 15, 1952, the price of the same Model G would be $2,811.50.  Figuring in the option of 6-ply rather than standard 4-ply tires up front added another $10.50.  The optional foam rubber seat was another $5.00.  (Ibid.)  Thus, the total suggested retail price of No. 29039 in late 1947 was probably halfway between $1,267.00 and $2,827.00, or about $2,000.00.  Of course, Lyle Churchill might have been in for some hard bargaining from the Traverse township farmer, and he would have had to allow something for the used tractor and machinery which were being traded in to the dealership as part of the purchase contract.

Along with the new tractor, our Traverse township farmer purchased a Model 55B plow.  The Model G-400 Series cultivator which he also purchased had the Quick-Tach front-end unit complete with shields and rubber tired gauge wheels, and the Model 490 corn planter came complete with a reel full of check wire for check planting and two anchor stakes to hold the check wire securely at the end of the field when check planting. With this new equipment, our Traverse township farmer went into the 1948 crop season with vigor.

Lyle Churchill’s activities in 1948 were as furious as ever, as he operated two dealerships in towns located 30 miles apart.  His sudden death in the summer of 1948 created quite a hole in these two businesses, and left a vacancy which could only be filled by a person of energy.  For the right person, the purchase of the St. Peter Implement Company promised a bright future.

That person turned out to be Kenneth Santelman.  Ken Santelman was born in 1919 in the southeastern Minnesota town of Red Wing (1910 pop. 9,048).  He married Marcy Roasch of Zumbrota, Minnesota, on April 10, 1943.  At that time, Ken was farming near Zumbrota.  In 1944, they were blessed with the birth of their first child Emily Ann.  A year later in 1945 a son Bruce was born.  However, farming was not what the young couple really sought, and with the end of the war, Ken got a job working for Skellgas Company, a seller of propane gas.  Ken’s job was to deliver 100 lbs. cylinders of gas from the Skellgas selling point in Pipestone (1940 pop. 4,682), located in the extreme southwestern corner of Minnesota, to various retail dealerships around southwestern Minnesota and eastern South Dakota.  However, changes were afoot in the Skellgas Company, and after a year of living at Pipestone, Ken and Marcy and their family moved to Detroit Lakes (1940 pop. 5,015) in western Minnesota for the summer of 1946.  This summer is fondly remembered by the family.  Living on the shore of a lake, Ken was able spend his free time fishing.  In the fall of 1946, the family moved to Watertown, South Dakota (pop. 13,388), where Skellgas had finally established its selling point for eastern South Dakota and southwestern Minnesota.  Ken’s father loaned the couple some money to help them buy a house in Watertown and they seemed settled in their new home.

In 1948, Ken Santelman heard about the sale of the St. Peter Implement Company, which intrigued him.  The Santelman’s had been looking for an opportunity to get into the farm machinery business because they felt that farm machinery sales would offer a good prospect for the future.  Purchase of the St. Peter Implement Company offered a chance to get into the farm machinery trade by means of a going concern.  Thus, they would not have to experience all the risks associated with “starting from scratch.”  Furthermore, Ken and Marcy were pleased at the prospect of running their own business in the beautiful and friendly town of St. Peter.  Additionally, despite the size of its business region, the only competing farm implement sales business in St. Peter was the H.B. Seizer Implement dealership which held an Allies-Chalmers franchise and an Oliver franchise.  (The H.B. Seizer Implement dealership is mentioned in the article “Story of an Oliver 100 Series Plowmaster Plow” on page 8 of the Winter 1995 issue of the Hart-Parr/Oliver Collector magazine.)  To be sure, the Ray Anthony’s International Harvester dealership was located in the unincorporated settlement of Norseland, Minnesota.  (The Ray Anthony dealership is mentioned in the article “Farming with an International 10-20 Titan” located on page 16 of the May/June 1996 issue of Belt Pulley magazine.)  However, Norseland was located a full 12 miles northwest of St. Peter and thus Anthony’s natural sales district would be more centrally located in the northwestern and central parts of Nicollet County and would not have an impact on the sales territory of western LeSueur County and/or eastern and southern Nicollet County.

Everything about the venture seemed to hold promise.  There was only one important barrier to overcome:  like Al and Gladys Easterlund, who would be purchasing the Ray Christian Implement dealership in LeSueur a couple of years later, Ken and Marcy did not have all of the necessary capital to buy the franchise outright.  Despite the offer from Ken’s parents to extend the previous loan they had made to Ken and Marcy for their Watertown home, and despite the fact that they could then put up all the money from the sale of their house in Watertown, they still found that they needed further capital.  Consequently, they asked Jack Barnard to continue as a “silent partner” and to increase his share of investment in the business to aid them in purchasing the concern from the widowed Mrs. Churchill.  Once the deal was concluded, Ken Santelman replaced Lyle as the “general partner,” handling the day-to-day affairs of the business.

            St. Peter Implement continued to do well as the 1950s began.  However, in his second year as John Deere dealer for the St. Peter area, Ken Santelman discovered one of the unfortunate aspects of his location on the east side of the Minnesota River:  St. Peter’s  east side is located in the “flood plain.”  In the spring of 1951, one of the largest floods in the history of the upper Minnesota River valley inundated the east side and the businesses located there, including the St. Peter Implement Company.  In the spring of 1952, flooding was again a problem; however, this time the major damage was further down river, at Jordan and Shakopee in Scott County, and luckily there was little flooding in the St. Peter area.  The 1950s also saw the Santelman family grow in size with the addition of Kathryn in 1950 and the birth of twins Mark and Mary in 1958.

Meanwhile, across the bridge located up out of the immediate river valley, our Traverse Township farmer was busy putting No. 29039 to work on his farm.  Throughout the years of plowing, the farmer had grown to appreciate the lugging power of the Model G, and No. 29039 showed none of the difficulties that he had sometimes experienced in plowing with his un-styled Model A.  The farmer also appreciated the G-400 Series cultivator and the Model 490 corn planter.  Throughout the 1950s, the tractor, with its three-bottom plow and four-row capabilities, had kept our farmer near the forefront in modern farm machinery in his neighborhood.  Although in previous generations the farmer and his wife might have expected to live out their years on their land their parents had done, times were now changing.  Now, with Social Security providing a floor of independence to retired couples, the farmer and his wife turned their minds to thoughts of selling their farm to their youngest son and retiring to a house in the city of St. Peter, and this is what they did.  Meanwhile, their son was already modernizing the farm equipment to keep up with the trend toward bigger and more powerful tractors of the “New Generation” of John Deere.

Coinciding with the introduction of the “New Generation” tractors was the clear trend toward 32″ rows for row-crop farming that threatened to put an end to tricycle style tractor designs and front-mounted cultivators which were limited to use in only traditional 40″ rows.  The usefulness of the Model G tractor for heavy field work–like plowing–had long since been overshadowed by more powerful tractors.  While this new trend threatened to totally eliminate the Model G altogether, progress toward 32″ rows was slow, and thus No. 29039, with its four-row, Quick-Tach Model G-400 Series cultivator, retained its attractiveness at auctions.  Its usefulness, however, tended to be limited almost exclusively to cultivation of row-crops.  We can picture No. 29039 as having the cultivator mounted on the tractor for a great portion of the year, if not all year long.

In the fall of 1964, Ken and Marcy Santelman sold the dealership and retired.  They had been living in a house on Swift Street and were neighbors of Clarence and Cora Rodning, farmers who were also retired and now living in St. Peter.  (The young Clarence Rodning was the subject of the article “Farming with an International 10-20 Titan” on page 16 of the May/June 1996 issue of Belt Pulley magazine.)  Later, Ken and Marcy moved to Hutchinson, Minnesota.  Now, they currently split their time between Minnesota in the summertime and Mesa, Arizona, in the wintertime.

No. 29039 was sold from one owner to another until in the late 1960s the tractor was purchased by Ted Holmberg, who also lived in Traverse Township.  Ted Holmberg was born and raised on an 80-acre farm 4½ miles out on County Rd. #5 (the old Fort Road).  He lived on the same farm with his son John who helped him with the farm operation.  They raised corn and soybeans exclusively with no livestock.  John continued to help with the farm work until he left for military service.  Old No. 29039 and the G-400 Series cultivator continued to perform well on the Holmberg farm.  After John got out of the military, Ted retired to a house at 918 Church Street in St. Peter where he still lives today and John took over the operations of the home farm.  However, John became a helicopter pilot, and, using the farm as a base, he created a business using helicopters for spraying crops in the area.  Thus, John sold most of the farm machinery which was no longer needed.  In 1982, he sold No. 29039 to Ron Weyl, an employee at the Minnesota State Security Hospital in St. Peter.  Ron and his wife, Rosemary, live on a farm in Tyrone Township in LeSueur County, Minnesota, where Ron shares the farming duties with his brother on the family farm–a farm which was originally settled by Ron’s ancestors who had immigrated from Germany.  Like the Holmberg farm, the Weyl farm is exclusively a crop raising farm with no livestock.  When Ron brought No. 29039 to the Weyl Farm in 1982, the Model G was still a useful tractor in the cultivation of crops.  Eventually, however, the usefulness of the Model G was exhausted and the tractor was retired to the shed.  As noted in the article by Mark Wells, No. 29039 was again offered for sale in August of 1994 and purchased along with its G-400 Series cultivator in the Spring of 1995.  In August of 1995, No. 29039 was brought the short distance from the Weyl farm to the LeSueur County Pioneer Power grounds.

Restoration of No. 29039 continues with an eye toward the Pioneer Power show in the year 2002 which will feature John Deere tractors.  Meanwhile, No. 29039 has once again found a useful role to play.  With the corn on the Pioneer Power grounds still being planted in 40″ rows, No. 29039 together with its Quick-Tach G-400 series cultivator provide the Association members with fond memories of cultivating corn years ago.  Thus, in addition to being part of the permanent exhibits, No. 29039 also has a chance to rise above the role of “just another pretty face” and to become one of the growing number of “service tractors” used not only during the show but throughout the year.  Indeed, what better role could there be for a tractor in retirement?

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