Forward to the 3 “Lost Articles”–The French and Hecht Company, the Electric Wheel Company (Part I) and the Electric Wheel Company (Part II)

The May, 2020 Introduction to the “Lost Articles” written in 2008-2009

One of the blessings of the requirements of “shelter in place” and “maintaining social distancing” that we are experiencing now as a result of the the Covid 19 pandemic of 2020, is that we have time—a great deal of time—to devote to tasks that have been long neglected.  As the consistent reader of this website is already aware, I had been writing articles on the history old farm tractors, on agricultural practices and on the history of agricultural equipment manufacturing companies since 1990.  I began writing for Belt Pulley magazine upon the invitation of Kurt Aumann, who as a 17-year old high school student actually founded Belt Pulley magazine in 1986. 

Kurt Aumann at 17 years of age when he founded Belt Pulley magazine.

No wonder then that in his senior class at Nokomis High School he was selected by his classmates as the person most likely to succeed.

By January of 1988, Belt Pulley magazine began appearing as an enumerated regularly published magazine.  Indeed, the January/February 1988 issue of Belt Pulley was Volume 1 Number 1.  I wrote almost exclusively for the Belt Pulley magazine during the period of time from 1993 until 2009 when Belt Pulley ceased publication.  An article written by Walter “Chick” Bishop called “Why to Restore” carried in Volume 1 Number 6 (the November/December 1988 issue) of Belt Pulley, reflected that the reason to restore old farm machinery was to save the old names of farm machinery, e.g. “Names like Waterloo Boy, Hart-Parr, Mogul, Twin City, Rumley, Heider, Aultman-Taylor, Holt, Case, International Harvester, Minneapolis, Titan Avery, Bull Wallis, Allis-Chalmers, Fordson, Moline, Massey-Harris, Keck-Gonnerman, John Deere and over 150 more…”

This list struck me when I first read it. It summed up the Belt Pulley magazine philosophy. This was why the magazine was devoted all makes of farm tractors and, indeed, also devoted to all “short-line” companies (those companies like “New Idea,” “Papec” and “Sandwich” that make farm machinery without making farm tractors). The vision of Belt Pulley also extended to any company that supplied parts and products for the farmer. This is what brings up to the current articles on French and Hecht and Electric Wheel.

During my writing career for Belt Pulley magazine I would sometimes refer back to the list of names in Chick Bishop’s article to find subjects for articles. Indeed, the “Keck and Gonnerman” series of articles grew out of an actual referral back to Chick’s list.

Early in my writing career Jane (Aumann) Waterman served as the editor to whom I would send the articles. For years I sent articles to her thru the mail on digital discs along with suggested pictures. I tried to get the articles into a format on the digial discs would be compatible with the computer systems used in the Belt Pulley offices at the time. However, the pictures were sometimes mere newspaper clippings and photo copies. Still it was glorious to be writing about the hobby that was dominating my life. Despite all the telephone calls to Belt Pulley and all the articles, only years later did I actually meet Jane in person.

Early on in my writing career for Belt Pulley I developed a pattern work that consisted of sending the editor a new article just as the previous article was going to print–sometimes the new article was sent to the before the previous article had gone to print.  In this way the editor would often have two articles of mine in their possession. One article was being finalized and prepared for publication and the second article was resting “on the shelf” waiting its turn for publication.

In the chaotic months before the closure of the magazine these three articles were lost to me. I suffered another crash of my computer hard drive and I feared that these completed articles were permanantly lost.

The last months of the existence of Belt Pulley magazine coincided with my new marriage in 2009. Later in 2010, I retired from the practice of law. There was just too much going on. I began to forget about these articles altogether. These 3 researched and completely written articles from 2008 and 2009 seemed gone to me. They would have to researched and written all over again. I feared that many of the people tht I had counted on for information during the research of the articles would be deceased. I really agonized over the loss of information.

Chronologically, these 3 articles should have been published immediately after the two-part article “North Dakota Potato Farming with a 1937 Farmall F-20” which can be found in the list of articles carried on this web page and was published in the September/October 2008 and the November/December 2008 issues of Belt Pulley. However, these three articles were put on the shelf at my request so that I could send in the two-part article on “Egg Farming in Dryden Township in Sibley County, Minnesota,” which can also be found among the articles carried on this web page.

This is where things stood until May of 2020, in the middle of the Covid 18 pendemic when I found an old thunb drive which contained some old partial drafts of articles. Looking through the documents on the old thumb drive I found the three articles for which I had been searching. Additionally, I discovered that the French and Hecht article contained its own cover letter which I used to include when I sent an article to the Belt Pulley magazine. The two part series of articles on the Electric Wheel Company, however, did not contain a companion cover letter. This cover letter indicates that I had probably mailed the French and Hecht article in to the magazine and although the Electric Wheel Company was complete I had not yet mailed it to the magazine. I have enclosed a copy of the French and Hecht cover letter immediately below.

                        BRIAN W. WELLS

  •                                                 Attorney at Law
  •                                                    3 Larabee Lane
  •                                               Winfield, West Virginia  25213-9785
  •                                                      (304) 347-5156 (work)
  •                                                      (304) 586-0305 (home)
  •                                                        (304) 549-5049 (mobile #1)
  •                                                        (304) 543-1621 (mobile #2)
  •                                                              FAX: (304) 344-3359
  •                                                  E-Mail:
  •                                    ________
  •                         March 28, 2009

Brandon and Charlotte Pfeiffer

6040 Ford Rd. N

Mount Vernon, Indiana  47620

Telephone: (812) 985-7640


Chad and Katie Elmore

N3712 County Road North

Jefferson, Wisconsin  53549-9726

Telephone: (920) 674-9720 (work)

           (217) 594-2825 (home)

      FAX: (217) 563-2111


Dear Chad and Katie and Brandon and Charlotte:

     Enclosed you will find an article on the French and Hecht Company of Davenport, Iowa.  You will see that I have, once again, attached some pictures which are related to this article. 

                             Sincerely yours,

Brian Wayne Wells


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