Category Archives: Dairy cattle raising

Any articles that describe the practice of dairying and the raising of dairy cattle.

The 1936 Loren Helmbrecht Farmall F-12 Tractor (Part I)

             The Farmall F-12 (Part I): The 1935 Minnesota State Fair


Brian Wayne Wells

As published in the May/June 2003 issue of

Belt Pulley Magazine

A purebred Jersey milking cow with the characteristic fawn colored body with a black face.

When looking at a map, Minnesota appears as a tall state with a narrow “waist” in the middle.  In actual fact, this “waist” is important in the geography of the state, as it separates the rich agricultural area of the southern part of the state from the acid, sandy, more marginal agricultural soils of the north.  Whereas the land south of the waist is divided between the hardwood forests of southeastern Minnesota and the flat prairies of the southwestern part of the state, the land north of the waist is dominated by soft woods – pine and fir trees.  Minnesota is known as the “Land of 10,000 Lakes,” but in actuality, that figure may be closer to 100,000 lakes, with most of the lakes located in the northern part of the state.  With the exception of the Red River valley which forms the border between Minnesota and North Dakota, farming tends to become more marginal as one travels north of the waist.

A map of the State of Minnesota showing the location of Sherburne County in the “waist” of Minnesota


Consequently, the waist of Minnesota forms an important watershed in the state in terms of geography, agriculture and fishing.  One of the counties of the waist is Sherburne County.  The east border of Sherburne County runs directly north from the Minnesota River at a point just 50 miles northwest of the Twin Cities.  From another point on the Minnesota River directly across from the City of St. Cloud (1930 pop. 21,000), the north border of the county extends straight east until it meets the eastern border of the county forming a 90# angle.  Thus, with the Minnesota River forming the hypotenuse of the triangular shaped county, Sherburne County appears on the map as a near perfect right triangle, lying along the northern bank of the Minnesota River as it flows southward from St. Cloud to the Twin Cities of Minneapolis (1930 pop. 464,356) and St. Paul (1930 pop. 271,606).  Located between these two population centers of the state, Sherburne County was, in the mid-1930s, one of the least populated counties in the entire state.  (1930 pop. 9,709).  Much of the land of the county was hilly and remained covered with trees–not well suited to agricultural crop growing.  Indeed a great portion of Sherburne County would later be set aside by the national and state governments through the establishment of the Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge and the Sand Dune State Forrest.


A road map of Sherburne County showing both the new Interstate 90 and the older U.S. No. 10 trunk highway extending from the City of St. Cloud, Minnesota, just off the northwest corner of the county, to Hennepin County Minnesota, just off the southeast corner of the triangular-shaped Sherburne County.  Minneapolis,  Minnesota’s largest city, lies in Hennepin County just off this map.


Outside of these two recreational areas, farming in Sherburne County was confined to either the area located along the northern bank of the Minnesota River or the townships in the western part of the county near St. Cloud.  The sandy soil of the area of the county along the Minnesota River and U.S. Highway No. 10, which runs roughly parallel to the Minnesota River, was found to be perfect for farming potatoes.  Indeed, from about 1890 to the late 1920s, this area was second only to the famous Red River Valley of the North in the production of potatoes in the State of Minnesota.  However, the Great Depression which began in 1929 caused many people in the towns of the United States to start growing their own potatoes in their back yards in order to save money during the hard economic times.  Thus, the commercial market for potatoes collapsed and potato production in Sherburne County came to a near complete halt.  Farmers of the area suffered from the effects of their lack of diversification in their farming operations.  They struggled to get into raising corn or other crops in an attempt to save their farms.  Specialization in potato production would return to this part of Sherburne County in the 1950s, but in the interim, potatoes in Sherburne County would be grown only on a much reduced scale.

In the other major faming area of the county, near St. Cloud, farmers were also hard hit by the economic effects of the Great Depression.  However, this was a dairy producing area.  It was a land of rolling hills.  The farms were small with irregular shaped fields.  Generally, the fields were used for pasturage of dairy cattle.  Whatever flat land existed was planted in corn.  While this might appear from the surface to be a diversification of the farming operations of the county, it really was not.  The small amounts of corn that were raised in this area of the county would generally be used by the farmer on his dairy farm each year to feed his cattle.  Thus, during the Great Depression, farmers of this area also suffered from a lack of diversification.  The one advantage dairy farmers had over potato farmers of the area was that, while town families may have been able to save money by growing their own potatoes, they could not save money by milking their own cows.  Thus, even though butter prices hit a new low of 184 per pound in the summer of 1932 (John D. Hicks, Republican Ascendancy, [Harper Bros.: New York 1960], p. 267) and milk prices did not do well throughout the next year, established farmers were able to hang on until dairy prices returned to acceptable levels again.

A dairy farm very much like our Palmer Township farmer’s farm.


One of the townships of the western, dairy area end of Sherburne County was Palmer Township.  Farming an 80-acre farm in the northwestern part of Palmer Township was one particular farmer.  He had been operating this farm since taking over the operations from his wife’s family.  His farm was far enough removed from the Minnesota River and U.S. 10 that it had never been a potato farm.  This farm was a dairy farm and had been a dairy farm since his father-in-law had begun farming.

A township map of Sherburne County, Minnesota, showing the locations of Palmer Township where our Palmer township farmer lived and of Santiago Township where the creamery was located where the family sold the cream from their Jersey milking herd.  .


Just as his father-in-law had done before him, he took pride in the small herd of registered, purebred Jersey milking cows that he raised on the farm.  The fawn-colored, black-faced Jersey cow is the smallest in stature of all the traditional breeds of dairy cattle—with cows weighing only about 1000 pounds at full maturity.  (Sara Rath, About Cows [Voyageur Press: Stillwater, Minn., 1987] p. 23.)  (By way of comparison a Holstein cow can weigh around 1,500 pounds at maturity. Ibid. p. 21.)

A line of purebred Jersey cows in stanchions in a barn ready for milking.


As a result, Jersey cattle did not produce as great a quantity of milk with each milking as did the popular Holstein cow, but Jersey milk was the richest milk in terms of butterfat content of any of the traditional breeds of cattle.  It was a point of pride with our Palmer Township farmer, as it was with other Jersey dairymen, that the golden or yellow colored Jersey milk traditionally contained on average about 5.2% butterfat, whereas Holstein cows traditionally yielded milk with only about 3.23% butterfat.  (Encyclopedia Britannica, [Chicago 1976], Vol. 5, p. 425.)  Holstein milk was sometimes derogatorily referred to as “blue milk” because it was so low in butterfat content.  This fact led to a common joke among dairymen which goes: There was a Jersey dairy farmer talking with a Holstein farmer.  The Jersey farmer said that Holstein blue milk was so “thin” that he could drop a dime in a pail of milk from a Holstein and still see the dime through the blue milk.  The Holstein farmer replied that he could also see a dime dropped into a pail of Jersey milk–because there was so little milk from an individual Jersey cow that the milk would not cover the thickness of a dime!  (an interview with Marilyn [Hanks] Wells in November of 2002.)  Continue reading The 1936 Loren Helmbrecht Farmall F-12 Tractor (Part I)

The Willmar Thrun 1937 John Deere Model B (Short Frame) Tractor (Part I): The Mankato Implement Company

The Mankato Implement Company (Part 1 of 2 Parts):

                    Wilmer Thrun 1937 John Deere Model B (Short Frame) Tractor


Brian Wayne Wells

As published in the March/April 2002 issue of

Belt Pulley Magazine

            As has been noted on previous occasions most farm equipment dealorships grew out of the traditional small-town general store or hardware store.  (See the article “The Grams & Krautkremer Hardware: John Deere Dealor in Jordan Minnesota” in the July/August issue of Belt Pulley Vo. 13, No. 4, p. 16 and the article “Ray Christian/Easterlund Impliment of LeSueur, Minnesotaand the Wagner/Wacker 1947 John Deere A” in the September/October 2000 issue of the Belt Pulley Vol. 13, No. 5, p. 18.)  These early “dealorships” sometimes held the franchises to multiple competing farm equipment companies.  (Regular readers will remember the fact that the Miles Supply in the small settlement in Clear Creek Township in Eau Claire, Wisconsin had both a John Deere franchise and an International Harvester franchise.  (See the article “The Rosenthal Cornhusker Company of Millwaukee, Wisconsin [Part IV]: the Cornbine” in the November/December 2001 issue of is Belt Pulley Vol 14, No. 6.)  Indeed, some small towns would have two franchises from the same company.  Two John Deere dealors in the same town would create as much competition between John Deere and  John Deere as it would between John Deere and International Harvester within that town.  Barbara Marsh, A Corporate Tragedy: The Agony of International Harvester (Doubleday: Garden City, New York, 1985) p. 99.)  This situation was not conducive to the efficient sales network that the farm equipment companies wished to establish.

Both International Harvester and the John Deere Company began to change this situation.  John Deere initiated a plan for “key dealorships” program.  Realizing that farmers in the 1920s were willing to drive further (over the increasing number of newly paved roads) to find large dealerships which would serve their entire farm machinery needs, John Deere sought to establish larger dealorships in larger towns–especially county seats of the various counties across rural America.  Ibid.

One such county seat was Mankato, Minnesota (1920 pop. 12,469), located on the Minnesota River on the northern edge of Blue Earth County.  Because John Deere had no franchise holder in Mankato, the Company decided to establish a Company-owned dealership in Mankato–Mankato Implement Company.  (This was not Mankato’s first experience with a company-owned dealership.  International Harvester had established a company-owned dealership at 301 So. Second Street in Mankato in 1905.  Later this company-owned dealership was moved to 426 No. Front Street where it stayed for nearly 60 years.  Long-time readers of the Belt Pulley will remember that in the article “Deering and McCormick Grain Binders” in the May/June 1995 issue of Belt Pulley Vol. 8, No. 3, p. 21, was accompanied by a small reproduction of a poster from the International Harvester Company dealership located at 426 No. Front Street in Mankato, Minnesota.  It was implied in that article the John and Mary Depuydt 10 foot McCormick-Deering grain binder had been purchased from that dealership in the 1940s.  Additionally, readers may remember that in the article “The Wartime Farmall H” contained in the July/August 1994 issue of Belt Pulley Vo. 7, No. 4 p. 14, it was noted that Fred and Bruce Hanks had made their way to Mankato for some shopping in the winter of 1944-1945.  There they purchased a pair of new drop center cast iron wheels and matching rims for the 1942 Farmall H they had just purchased.  Although the name of the dealership was not mentioned in that article, the wheels and rims for the Farmall H were purchased at the International Harvester company-owned dealership in Mankato.)

In 1930, John Deere also decided to establish a company-owned dealership in Mankato, Minnesota, originally it was planned that the dealership would also serve as a “branch house” or a distribution center for the other smaller John Deere dealerships around southern Minnesota.  For the purposes of establishing this dealorship/block house, John Deere sent Joseph Rolstad to Mankato in the spring of 1930.  He took a room at a boarding house located at 328 Center Street and served as the first general manager or “branch manager” of the new company owned dealership which became known as the Mankato Implement Comany.  A building was purchased at 212 North Front Street and the new dealership was initiated.  Later the premises next door, at 210 North Front Street were also acquired and merged with the dealership and the address of the Mankato Implement Company dealership was officially changes to 210 No. Front Street.  Later it was decided that the branch house for the entire state of Minnesota would be the Deere and Webber Company distributorship located at 800-828 Washington Avenue North in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  Thus, the Mankato Implement Company lost its destination as a branch house and became a straight dealership.

The building at 800-828 Washington Avenue North which housed the Deere and Webber Company in Minneapolis, Minnesota the branch warehouse for John Deere dealerships all over the State of Minnesota.


It had never been the intent of Joseph Rolstad to serve as the permanent manager of the new dealership.  He was merely assigned the duty of coming to Mankato to get the dealership up and running and then move on to another assignment as soon as a permanent manager had been hired.  A couple of permanent managers were tried but eventually, in the spring of 1934, Lore E. Smith was hired as permanent manager of the Mankato Implement Company.  Lore and his wife, Marie, moved into a house at 918 No. Second Street in Mankato. In addition to the new dealership at 210 North Front Street, John Deere had purchased a building at 1101 North Broad Street in Mankato to serve as their warehouse.  Continue reading The Willmar Thrun 1937 John Deere Model B (Short Frame) Tractor (Part I): The Mankato Implement Company

Sandwich Manufacturing Company of Sandwich Illinois

The Sandwich Manufacturing Company of Sandwich Illinois


Brian Wayne Wells

As published in the July/August 1998 issue of

Belt Pulley Magazine

A Sandwich Company single-cylinder “hit and miss” engine showing the “Brewster green” color that graced most of the Sandwich Company machines.

Farm equipment companies that did not sell a “full-line” of farm equipment they were referred to as “short line” companies.  Usually these short line companies did not produce farm tractors and most often did not even produce stationary engines.  Inevitably, these small companies were swallowed up by larger companies and, in the process, the individual identity of these small companies was lost.  Often, however, many of the greatest improvements in farm machinery were made by these short line companies.  One of the most inventive and creative of all short line companies was the Sandwich Manufacturing Company of Sandwich, Illinois.

The Sandwich Manufacturing Company factory Works in Sandwich, Illinois.


The Sandwich Company began as a concept in the mind of one person–Augustus Adams.  Augustus Adams was born in Genoa, New York, on May 10, 1806.  Genoa is located in the “Finger Lakes” Region of New York near Syracuse.  Today, the town is known as the birthplace of Millard Fillmore (1800-1874), who was later to become the thirteenth President of the United States.  Following the death of his father, Samuel Adams, in 1817 (not the famous hero of the American Revolution), Augustus was sent to live with his brother-in-law in Chester, Ohio.  There, he alternated between attending school and doing farm work in the area.  He was studious by nature and devoted a great deal of his leisure time to studying and reading.  In 1829, he returned to the Finger Lakes Region and settled in Pine Valley located in Chemung County near Elmira, New York.  In Pine Valley he opened a foundry and machine shop, which he operated until 1837 when he was smitten by the dream of seeking his fortune in the west.

A generation before John Babsone Lane Soule pronounced his famous quote of “Go West, young man” in the Terre Haute Indiana Express in 1851 (later popularized by Horace Greeley), the dream of seeking riches on the Western frontier was firing the imaginations of many young people.  (John Bartlett, Familiar Quotations [Boston 1968], p. 768.)  So it was with young Augustus Adams.  Augustus had married Lydia A. Phelps on October 21, 1833, and started their family.  Over the next few years they had four sons: Darius (August 26, 1834); J. Phelps (September 18, 1835); Henry A. (January 21, 1837); and John Q. (July 23, 1839).  However, Augustus was extremely reluctantly to take his family to the untamed western frontier, and so he left them in New York while he struck out for the town of Elgin, located in northern Illinois, northwest of Chicago.  He intended that the family would follow as soon as he could make decent living arrangements for them on the frontier in Illinois.

Darius Adams, first-born son of Augustus Adams.


Augustus, who from his own experiences in working on a farm, knew that much hard, laborious hand work was involved in raising and harvesting crops.  Consequently, he understood that the future of any business would be assured if the business could build labor-saving farm equipment, and over the next several decades, the company that Augustus Adams founded would do just that.

Continue reading Sandwich Manufacturing Company of Sandwich Illinois

The PAPEC Company of Shortsville, New York (Part 1)

  Today Last 24 hours Last 7 days Last 30 days Total
Hits 147 1163 7944 29072 1267961
Pages views 95 714 5032 19598 985820
Unique visitors 31 206 1044 3959 242241
Unique visitors ‪(1h interval)‬ 45 411 2652 11539 543826
Unique visitors ‪(30 min interval)‬ 54 476 3021 12951 574397
Hits per unique visitor 4.66 5.66 7.61 7.34 5.23
Pages per unique visitor 3.03 3.48 4.82 4.95 4.07
The PAPEC Company of Shortsville, New York (Part 1)


Brian Wayne Wells

As published in the November/December 1995 issue of

Belt Pulley Magazine

The 1987 restoration of a PAPEC Model 127 silo filler at Shortsville, New York.
This is the PAPEC Model 127 silo filler that was restored at Shortsville, New York by a group of former employees of the PAPEC Company as described in this article.

The storing of forage in a silo to cure into ensilage became popular in the United States in the 1890s.  To mechanize that process, the stationary silo filler was invented.

Silo fillers started out as complicated machines which chopped bundles of green corn plants and piled the chopped corn into stacks to be elevated into silos.  Eventually, stationary silo fillers were modified and simplified to a single-stage machine which chopped corn into the appropriate size and then blew the ensilage up a large pipe for distribution inside a silo, all in one step.  This was the stationary silo filler as it is most commonly known.

Many small companies sprang up at about the turn of the century to supply the farmers’ demand for these silo fillers.  One of these companies was founded by Billy Hamlin in Lima, New York, in 1901, and was organized with capital from members of the Hamlin family.  Billy Hamlin had originally wanted to name the company the Union Manufacturing Company; however, he found that there were already six other companies with that name in New York State at that time.  Accordingly, he decided on a name that would emphasize the main product manufactured by his company–silo fillers.  The name he created was the Pneumatic and Propeller Ensilage Company.  The only drawback about the name was that it was hard to pronounce and so the name was shortened to the mnemonic P.A.P.E.C., or Papec.

Filling silo with corn ensilage by means of a PAPEC Model K-3 silo filler
A PAPEC silo filler at work.

Billy Hamlin had purchased a Canadian patent for an “ensilage cutter” and set about refining the design cutter to make an improved silo filler.  Thus, in 1901, Papec began production of a model of silo filler based on the Canadian patent, but with substantial improvements.  This model went through other improvements over time and eventually became the Model C silo filler.  However, in 1904, the venerable Model C was phased out of production and replaced with the Model D.  The Model D would remain in production until 1917.

Empire Tool Company building was sold to PAPEC in 1909
This picture was taken prior to 1909 and is actually the workforce of Empire Tool Company of Shortsville, New York, who worked in the Empire Tool Company buildings in the background. However in 1909, the PAPEC Company purchased these buildings from Empire Tool and began making silo fillers at the site.


Both the Model C and Model D silo fillers were very popular with farmers.  A 1931 Papec advertisement proudly stated that there was still an active market for knives for the Model C more than 27 years after production had ceased.  A 1944 Papec advertisement made similar statements about the Model D which had been out of production for 27 years.

The Papec Company lost money regularly every year from the time of its founding through 1909.  The shareholders blamed Billy Hamlin for the continual losses and deposed him as president of the company in 1909.  At this stage, three remarkable men were enlisted by the shareholders to get the Company on the right track.  Frank Hamlin, now of Naples, New York, remembers that these three men were unique:  “One was a money man” (George W. Hamlin, father of Frank Hamlim, who became the Treasurer); “one was a good manager” (Ward H. Preston, who would serve as President until 1953); “and the third was an ingenious mechanic” (Fred Bullock, who became the plant manager).  These men were each strong individualists.  (An interesting sidelight is that Fred Bullock was a perennial candidate for governor of New York on the Socialist Party ticket until he became Vice President of Papec, at which time he became a Republican!).  Ward Preston, affectionately called “The Commander” by personnel at the factory, was a colorful personality.  He was a person squarely aimed at getting the job done.  Photographs have captured him on hand in the factory when the 20,000th Papec silo filler was completed in 1949.  On another occasion, in 1931, he was photographed at the occasion of the delivery of the first Papec with a galvanized feeder to a local New York farm.

Ward Preston in forground looking at the front of the feeder before crawling up on top of the feeder
Ward Preston inspects a new Model 127 PAPEC silo filler before crawling up on the feeder and pushing the sides of the feeder further apart by jumping on the feeder.

While looking the new machine over in his barnyard, the new owner was asked how he liked it.  The farmer responded that he felt the end of the galvanized feeder was a little too narrow.  Whereupon, to the surprise of those present, The Commander, even then an elderly man, crawled up into the feeder and jumped up into the air and came down with his feet against both sides of the ends of the feeder–spreading the end of the feeder.  “How’s that?” The Commander asked.  The stunned farmer managed to reply that the improvement to the machine was just fine!

These men were individualists, and by all reasonable expectations the new management should have been rent asunder by conflict between these strong personalities.  However, these three men realized that for Papec Company to survive they would each have to work together.  Each of the three men developed a respect for the others and refrained from interfering with those sections of the company outside their own area of expertise.  The result was a harmonious relationship within the management of the Papec Company.

Bridge leading to the PAPEC factory over the river in Shortsville, New York.

            Papec began to make money.  For the next 45 years (until 1954) Papec prospered through the sale of silo fillers and forage equipment.  During this long period of growth, the company lost money for only three years–one year immediately following World War I and for two years during the depression.

It was a long period of growth for Papec.  By 1909, the Papec Machine Company had outgrown their facilities in Lima, New York, and had moved to another location in Shortsville, New York.  Shortsville was located about 25 miles to the east of Lima.  In Shortsville, the Papec Machine Company purchased the old Empire Grain Drill Works building site located near the Canandaigua outlet which flowed through Shortsville.  In the early 1800s, the Empire Grain Drill Works had depended on water from the outlet as the source of power for the site.  (Of course, by 1909, the building had long since been connected to electric power.)  The building site contained a 300-foot-long foundry building and was a good site for the future expansion of Papec.

The Bridge over the river in Shortsville, NY leading to the old Empire Tool Company factory which became the PAPEC factory in 1909.
The Bridge over the river in Shortsville, NY leading to the old Empire Tool Company factory which became the PAPEC factory in 1909.

As the years went by, improvements were made to Papec silo fillers.  Eventually Papec offered a line of silo fillers of different sizes including the Models F, H, and O.  An advertising booklet dating from about 1931 promotes the Papec Model R and Models 81, 127 and 158.  The model numbers of the last three silo fillers correspond to the area of the opening of the throat in square inches:  e.g., the Model 81 had a throat size of 6-3/8″ x 12-3/4″, for a total of 81 square inches; the Model 127 had a throat size of 8-1/2″ x 15″, for a total of 127 square inches; and the Model 158 had a throat size of 8-1/2″ x 18″, for a total of 158 square inches.  The Model R had a throat size of 6-1/8″ x 10-1/8″ throat, for a total of 62-plus square inches.

The Company also made Model N, L and K hay choppers which were identical to the Models 81, 127 and 158 silo fillers, respectively, except the hay choppers were reinforced with heavier construction at certain points to allow for the difficult task of handling dry crops.  Additionally, Papec expanded into the manufacture of the Model 8 and Model 10 Feed Cutters and 13-inch and 16-inch hammermills.  By 1944, the large Model 158 silo filler had been discontinued, and the Model 127 became the largest silo filler built by Papec.

The whole Papec product line was painted with a complicated color scheme, including red, black, and two shades of green, with yellow stenciling or decals.  Originally, the sides of the feeding table of the Papec silo fillers were wooden.  Papec painted these red.


A restored PAPEC stationary silo filler showing the complicated color schemes of th various models of PAPEC silo fillers.


Meanwhile, other improvements were introduced into the line of silo fillers.  In about 1928, Papec discontinued the use of cast iron belt pulleys and contracted with the Rockwood Pulley Company of New York City to supply all the belt pulleys for Papec silo fillers.  Therefore, about from 1928 on, the Rockwood fiber pulley was used exclusively on all Papec silo fillers.  In 1931, Papec introduced a new style of feeding table for their silo fillers and hay choppers.  This new feeding table had galvanized sides so that only the floor of the feeding table remained wooden.  The galvanized feeding table was made standard equipment on the Models 81, 127 and 158 silo fillers.  Only the Model R continued to have a wooden feeding table.  By 1944, however, Model R had been converted from the wooden feeder to the galvanized feeder to match the rest of the Papec line of silo fillers.

Although New York was the fourth largest dairy producing state in the nation, the first three dairy states (Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan) were located a considerable distance from Shortsville.  Because forage equipment was used predominately by dairy farmers, Papec needed to find some way of marketing their product to their richest target:  dairy farmers in the upper midwest and Canada.  In Canada, Papec arranged for the Cockshutt Plow Company Limited to serve as wholesaler and distributor for the Canadian provinces.  Cockshutt had wholesale warehouses at Truro, Nova Scotia; Moncton, New Brunswick; Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island; Montreal, Quebec; Smiths Falls and Brantford, Ontario; Saskatoon, Saskatchewan; and Edmonton, Alberta.  Additionally, Cockshutt had a string of dealerships which were served by these wholesale facilities.  By this single agreement, Papec was positioned to reach nearly every dairy farmer in Canada with sales and service.  The export market was served by Papec facilities at 1 Park Avenue in New York City.  In the United States, Papec established its own Papec wholesale outlets in Indianapolis, Indiana, and Kansas City, Kansas.  As to the remainder of the United States, however, Papec depended on individual wholesaling contracts.  Washington, Oregon, California, and Idaho were served by a contract with John Deere Plow Company, whereby Papec would be marketed through the John Deere dealerships in those states.  The John Deere Company and Deere family brother-in-law C.C. Webber, had formed the wholesaling firm of Deere and Webber Company located at 800-828 Washington Avenue North in Minneapolis, which served as the wholesaler for John Deere equipment in Minnesota.  As a result of Papec’s contract with Deere and Webber, Papec equipment was offered for sale at every John Deere dealership in the state of Minnesota.   In Pennsylvania, Papec contracted with Landis Brothers at the corner of North Queen Street and Walnut Street in Lancaster to serve as wholesaler of Papec equipment for the whole state of Pennsylvania.  Brown County Warehouse Company, located at 501 Liberty Street in Green Bay, served the important state of Wisconsin.  Michigan was served by Western Michigan Storage Company, located at 128-138 Coldbrook Street Northeast in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

In the rest of the nation, Papec sought to make individual contractual arrangements with dealerships.  John Deere dealerships frequently offered the best opportunity as a potential outlet for Papec equipment, because the John Deere line of farm equipment did not include a stationary silo filler.  (Don Mcmillan and Russell Jones, John Deere Tractors and Equipment, Vol. I [New York, N.Y.: American Society of Engineers Press: 1988], p. 272).  As noted in John Deere Tractors and Equipment, the John Deere Company did not get into the manufacture of forage equipment until 1936 with the introduction of their first model of ensilage field harvester.    Consequently, until they began manufacturing their own field harvester, John Deere dealerships were inclined to contract with Papec to supplement the line of John Deere equipment offered by their dealerships.

Once the distribution network had been arranged, Papec needed to insure sufficient transportation to get their products to the wholesaling agents across the nation.  According to Tim Record, historian of the Shortsville/Manchester area of New York State, Shortsville was excellently served by the New York Central Railroad and the small LeHigh Valley Railroad.  However, Papec most often used the Vanderbilt-owned New York Central lines to get their machines to their intended markets.


The New York Central Railroad system covered the rural areas of the eastern United States and the was connected to Chicago which allowed New York Central to transfer to other railroads and, thus, cover the rural and small town areas of the entire Midwest of the United


As farming operations modernized after World War II and filling silo changed from the use of silo fillers to the use of field harvesters, Papec gradually phased out production of the stationary silo filler in favor of production of field forage harvesters.  The ease of handling corn chopped in the field and bringing it to the silo by forage wagon was doing away with the technology of binding corn, just as surely as grain combines had done away with the process binding small grains and feeding the bundles into a thresher.


The new PAPEC forage harvester advertised in a 1949 silo filler. This engine powered field harvester changed silo filling across the United States conducted by a stationary machine located at the site of the silo, a process which was largely completed in the corn field and then the prepared ensilage was brought to the silo.


The Papec Corporation also recognized the direction in which the market for farm forage equipment was headed and started manufacturing forage wagons in 1946. They also began manufacturing their own Papec field harvester.  However, even with Papec’s extension into the area of field forage harvesters, the company was still in a period of decline.  The whole farm machinery market was dwindling.  Furthermore, whereas John Deere had wanted to co-operate with Papec in selling stationary silo fillers, John Deere had long been working on their own design for a field forage harvester and no longer had any interest in working with Papec for the sale of either the stationary silo filler or the Papec field forage harvester.


Processing of the ensilage in the corn field with the new pull-type forage harvester led to the development forage wagons. This particular PAPEC forage wagon reflects that the major design improvement in forage wagons–the automatic front un-loading capability of the wagon controlled by the operator from the tractor seat.


The year of 1949 proved to be the high water mark for earnings and profits for the Papec Corporation.  After 1954, sales and profits continued to sag throughout the remainder of the 1950s and 1960s.  The Company was headed into a long period of decline.  At its peak in 1950, Papec employed 300 people.  Among the long-term employees at Papec were Glen Brackett and Harold Lyon, who were both employed in the engineering department.  In the 1920s and early 1930s, Ken VanSickle worked as a draftsman, Carl Dudley served as plant superintendent, and Harry Sheet also worked at Papec.  In later years, Wayne Holtz and Randy Woodhams served as superintendent and John Kolberg served in the paint department.  Paul Bailey and Paul Sleight also worked at the Shortsville, New York, plant of the Papec Company.

In 1950, the PAPEC Company manufactured the 20,000th silo filler and the event was recognized by "the Old Commander"--Ward Preston.
In 1950, the PAPEC Company manufactured the 20,000th silo filler and the event was recognized by “the Old Commander”–Ward Preston.

In 1953, “The Commander”–Ward Preston–announced his retirement effective as of November 1.  He also announced that Frank Hamlin would be taking over the operation of the Company.  Frank Hamlin, who despite being the son of one of the founders of the company, had started with the Company as a laborer in the sheet metal department.  Over the years he had been groomed by “The Commander” to take over the Company.  Now, at 47 years of age, after 25 years of employment in various positions in the Company–and, incidentally, the largest shareholder of stock in Papec–Frank Hamlin became the President of the Company.

After financial losses in 1968, 1969, and 1970, Papec was sold in 1972 to the Lansdowne Steel and Iron Company of Morton, Pennsylvania.  Papec went through a corporate down-sizing under the management of Landsdowne Steel.  However, this did not save Papec from continual decline, and in November of 1979, all manufacturing ceased.  In February of 1981, Landsdowne closed down all the facilities in Shortsville.  After attempting to make a profit selling replacement parts, Papec closed down all operations in April of 1981.  While lying vacant, the historic old building at the Shortsville site–which had originally been the home of Empire Drill Works–was destroyed by fire.

A PAPEC silo filler at work in hay.
A PAPEC silo filler at work in hay.

Fortunately for restorers of Papec implements, in 1981 the entire parts inventory owned by Papec was purchased by the Randy Hale family of Shelbyville, Tennessee, who then formed J.H. & R. EnterprisesJ.H. & R. Enterprises, located at 1049 Madison Street, Shelbyville, Tennessee  37160-3621, Telephone: (615) 684-9737, offers parts books for sale on the old stationary silo fillers, and by use of these books, Papec parts can still be ordered for stationary silo fillers, or any of the other Papec machines, by the original Papec part numbers.  For the restorer of Papec farm equipment, this source for replacement parts is invaluable.  However, there is one shortcoming.  In the late 1950s, Papec changed its Company colors from the complicated two shades of green, red, and black with yellow lettering, to the simpler yellow with black lettering.   From this point on, even the replacement parts for the older Papec equipment were painted yellow or black.  Therefore, the parts in the inventory of J.H. & R. provide no clue as to the shade of green paint used on the old Papec stationary silo fillers because all of these replacement parts are painted yellow or black, reflecting the Company’s newer colors.  There seems to be no Company records which would help the restorer of Papec machines discover the right shade of paints.  The only clue as to the correct paint shade seems to be a 1987 restoration of a Model 127 silo filler performed by several former Papec employees in Shortsville, New York.

In 1987, Shortsville celebrated its Centennial.  In celebration of Papec, the town’s dominant employer until the 1970s, some of the former employees of Papec and other interested townspeople restored a Papec Model 127 silo filler.  Involved in the restoration were the Mayor of Shortsville Francis (Cap) Walker, his wife Ann Walker, who served as village historian, former Papec employees Paul Bailey, Paul Sleight, Harold Lyons, Wayne Holtz, Randy Woodhams and John Koberg, as well as Jim Tobey, Bill Fox and John Liberty.

The silo filler selected by the Shortsville group had a small Rockwood pulley.  The silo filler was in very good shape and did not need much repair.   It did, however, need to be repainted and re-stenciled.  Working from memory, the former Papec employees used a regular gloss or semi-gloss black for the wheels.  Farmall Red (IHC #2150, PPG-Ditzler #71310 or Martin-Senour #99-4115) was used for the cast iron feed roller housing and the frame and shafts supporting the knife sharpening wheel.  A regular silver paint was used on the galvanized portion of the feeder.  As for the two shades of green, Cap Walker, who works at the local hardware store, spent one evening with the former Papec employees in the project at the hardware store mixing batches of the store’s collection of Benjamin Moore paints to get the most accurate shades of green.  Resulting from that evening session was the conclusion that the lime green color used on the axles and frame is Benjamin Moore Impervo Enamel #420.  Working from a color photo of the restored Model 127, the author found that this shade of lime green is most closely represented by Martin-Senour #274A (Signal Green).  The dark olive green is Benjamin Moore, Morse House Paint #110-43, (Essex Green).  The author found this color to most closely match Martin-Senour #281A.  Cross-indexing of paints to Martin-Senour paint numbers means that these shades of paint will be readily available to restorers across the nation at their local NAPA auto parts stores.

The complicated color scheme of the PAPEC silo filler is clearly evident in this picture of the Model 127 restored in Shortsville, New York by members of the retired work force in 1987.

The 1987 restoration of the Model 127 Papec in Shortsville, New York, may be the final word we ever have on the exact shades of paint used on early Papec equipment.  Since 1987, all of the former employees of Papec involved in the restoration project have died.  Furthermore, as time goes by, the restored Papec in Shortsville will become even more important.  Not only will it serve as a research tool for restorers, but it will stand as a permanent monument to all those men and women who labored in the design, manufacture and sale of the Papec line of equipment.

The Algoma Foundry and Machine Company of Algoma Wisconsin

Algoma is “OK”:

History of the Algoma Foundary and Machine Company of Algoma, Wisconsin


Brian Wayne Wells

As published in the March/April 1995 issue of

Belt Pulley Magazine

The restored Lindstom silo filler in 1994.
The restored OK silo filler manufactured by Algoma Foundry and Machine Company which was formerly owned by Roy Johnson, Harris Quist, Howard Nelson and Leonard Johnson and later sold to Maynard Mohn od Center City, Minnesota.

The ensilage process of chopping green corn or hay and storing it in a silo was first developed by August Goffart, a French experimenter, in 1877.  (Robert C. Nesbit, Wisconsin: A History [University of Wisconsin Press; Madison, Wisconsin, 1973], p. 291.)  In 1880, Dr. H.S. Weeks, of Ononomowoc, Wisconsin, also conducted experiments with ensilage stored in silos.  The success of Dr. Weeks’ experiments led some pioneering farmers to construct silos for storage of this new type of cattle feed.  Later experiments found that three cows could be fed for seven months on one acre of silage crops while it would take two acres of hay to feed just one cow for the same seven months.

At first, there was a major resistance to this new method of chopping and storing ensilage based on the belief that the fodder would eat away at the stomachs of cows or cause them to lose their teeth.  As of 1904, there were only 716 silos in the entire state of Wisconsin.  However, in the early 1900s, William Dempster Hoard, editor of Hoard’s Dairyman, began promoting silage for dairy herds in his magazine.  Thus, following the First World War, silos started to spring up across the nation as farmers began to see the advantages of silage.


Most commonly, silage was cut into pieces about an inch in length.  Machines were developed to facilitate this procedure, and the ensilage cutter–or stationary forage harvester–was born, with the dairy state of Wisconsin becoming the center for manufacturing and sales of silage equipment.  One of the companies that realized the potential market for ensilage cutters in Wisconsin was the Algoma Foundry and Machine Company of Algoma, Wisconsin.

The Algoma Machine company factory located east of the 4th Street Bridge
The Algoma Machine company factory located east of the 4th Street Bridge

Algoma is a small city of 3,600 people located on the shore of Lake Michigan at the base of Door Peninsula.  The entity that was to become the  Algoma Company was first established there in 1883 as A. Hamacek and Company by Adolf and Anton Hamacek.  A. Hamacek and Company made horse-drawn farm machinery and operated an electric light plant for those Algoma residents who had electric lighting in their homes and businesses.  On August 28, 1891, Adolph Hamacek left the partnership and moved to Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin.  Anton, however, continued to operate the business alone until the spring of 1893 when he formed another partnership with Joseph Wodsedalek and August Ziemer from Kewaunee, Wisconsin.  On August 6, 1895, a fire totally destroyed the business’s two-story building located in the 600 block of Fremont Street in Algoma.  Following the fire, the partnership purchased a new property, just east of the new Fourth Street Bridge in Algoma, owned by John Ihlenfeld.  This was an excellent location which was served by a spur of the Green Bay and Western Railroad.  The partnership then moved their operations to the single-story building located on that property.

During World War I, one of the partnership’s employees, Joseph Sticka, a machinist, conceived of his own design for a stationary forage harvester and left the employ of the partnership to establish his own business.  However, the business he established was not sufficiently capitalized and he soon sought the backing of his old employer.  Thus, in 1920, the partnership began mass producing the forage harvester developed by Joseph Sticka.

In March of 1920, the partnership was transformed into a company and incorporated as the Algoma Foundry and Machine Company.  Joseph Wodsedalek became president and Joseph F. Sticka became a director.  E.W. Anderogg, general manager of the Algoma Net Company, also became a director.  While continuing his work at the Net Company, Mr Anderogg sat on the board of the Algoma Foundry and Machine Company as representative of the interests of his boss, M.W. Perry, president of the Algoma Net Company.  M.W. Perry, although a minority shareholder, had loaned the Algoma Foundry and Machine Company a great deal of money.  Therefore, M.L. Perry had much influence over the company.

Shortly after they became incorporated, the Algoma Company introduced a new line of modern farm equipment bearing the trade name OK.  This line included forage harvesters–or ensilage cutters–forage blowers, feed grinders and hammermills.  This expansion, however, was ill-timed.

Workers in the Algoma Foundry and Machine Company in Algoma Wisconsin.
Workers in the Algoma Foundry and Machine Company in Algoma Wisconsin.

Although it is commonly accepted that the Great Depression began with the stock market crash in 1929 following a period of prosperity throughout the 1920s, the facts are that in the rural areas of the nation the depression actually began in 1921 with the fall in the price of farm products following the end of World War I.  Farmers were feeling the effects of the depression as early as 1921.  This meant that there was little demand for new farm machinery from that time until the nation began to recover in the 1930s.  As a result, the Algoma Foundry and Machine Company suffered deficits for the first nine years of its existence.

A financial statement, dated Feb. 1, 1929, noted that the corporation had a $38,807.20 deficit in its annual budget at that time.  The board required action and the corporation underwent a financial reorganization whereby the persons who had loaned the company money were made preferred stockholders in the corporation.  Suddenly, all the creditors of the company became the owners of the company.  In short, this meant that M.W. Perry became the majority shareholder of the company with 51% of the shares.  He also bought out all of the remaining inrterests of the Joseph Wodsedalek family.

On March 2, 1929, a new management team was installed.  M.W. Perry became the new president and E.W. Anderogg became the new general manager of the Algoma Foundry and Machine Company.  Following the reorganization, the compamy underwent a corporate down-sizing and under the new leadership managed to finish the year in good order and even showed a profit.  Consequently, in 1929, the corporation made its first profit in the face of the financial dislocations which occurred on Wall Street in October of 1929 and continued profitably for the next three years.

In the Spring of 1932, E.W. Anderogg was made treasurer.  The Company then began to cast about to find the right person to fill the position of general manager and were fortunate in obtaining the services of E.J. Albro for this position.  He had served as manager of the farm equipment division of the Montgomery Ward Company for 15 years, from 1917 to 1932.   In his position at Montgomery Ward, E.J. Albro had supervised the purchasing of thousands of dollars of fly nets from the Algoma Net Company.  Now he used his influence to arrange for Montgomery Ward to purchase all of their hammermills from the Algoma Foundry and Machine CompanyMontgomery Ward would sell these farm implements under their own name and eventually would become the Algoma Foundry and Machine Company’s largest single customer, absorbing 35% of all of the farm equipment they produced.

The silo fillers produced by the Algoma Foundry and Machine Company continued to follow the original design conceived by Joseph F. Sticka; however, with some small improvements made to the original design.  Two sizes of silo fillers were offered, e.g., a 13″ throat model and a 15″ throat model.  These two models came out of the factory, along with the hammermills and all of the other farm equipment offered by the Algoma Foundry and Machine Company, cloaked in the green paint that in the early years symbolized the OK line of farm machinery.  A bright yellow “OK” insignia would appear on both sides of the hinged casing covering the knife wheel.  Another insignia declaring “Mfd. by Algoma Foundry and Machine Company, Algoma, Wisconsin” was stenciled on both sides of the transport frame underneath the feeding table.  Although no paint numbers now exist which could allow a restorer to recreate the exact shade of this green paint, according to John Beitling, long-term employee of the paint department, the shade was very close to the green color which was habitually used on 1948-1950 Chevrolet pickups.

When Montgomery Ward began placing large orders for hammermills and other equipment, the purchasing contract required that such equipment be painted Montgomery Ward red and that the equipment bear no insignias.  Marvin Zirbel, another former employee of the Algoma Company, remembers that to save cost the Company made the decision to change the color of its entire line of OK equipment to Montgomery Ward red, Martin-Senour 99L-1637.  (Later, in 1964, when Massey-Ferguson bought the corporate entity which included the Algoma Company, Massey-Ferguson personnel found that the red paint used by the Algoma Company was indistinguishable from their own Massey-Ferguson red.)  The bright yellow insignias and lettering, however, would still appear in the same locations on the silo fillers and on all of those machines which were not sold to Montgomery Ward but were offered to the public through jobbers and wholesalers under the Company’s own name.

Marvin Zirbel and Ben Schneider work in the foundary of the Algoma Machine Company factory.
Marvin Zirbel and Ben Schneider work in the foundary of the Algoma Machine Company factory.

In 1943, one of these OK silo fillers rolled out of the plant cloaked in its red paint job and insignias.  It was one of the smaller models with a 13″ throat.  It traveled by railroad flatbed out of Algoma, across Wisconsin and into Minnesota, where it was sold to its first owner.  After only one season, the silo filler was resold in 1944 to Roy Johnson (a beef farmer), Harold Nelsen and Harris Quist (who milked Holstein herds on their farms), and Leonard Johnson (who milked Jersey cows).  They bought the silo filler together, along with a McCormick-Deering corn binder which had a wagon loading attachment.  (A two-row version of this binder with the wagon loading attachment can be seen in the 1934 International Harvester movie, Farming the Farmall Way.)  The four Lindstrom-area farmers used the silo filler to fill their own silos on all four farms and for some custom work in their neighborhood as well.  Harold Nelsen remembers that the OK silo filler was a “light runner”–a smooth and easy operating machine–powered most often by a Farmall H.  Each summer the silo filler was towed from farm to farm in the Lindstrom neighborhood by the Farmall H and performed admirably.

Following World War II, a flood of new and more efficient farm machinery came onto the market.  In 1944, International Harvester had introduced the No. 55-T baler, their first successful cotton stripper, and the new No. 2 field forage harvester.  All of these machines were advertised as “one-man harvesting machines.”  (See the 1944 IH movies called “One-Man Harvesting” and “One-Man Cotton Harvesting.”)

Like other farmers across the nation, these four farmers saw the advantages of single-stage processing of ensilage in the field, rather than carrying bundles of corn to the silo for processing.  Thus, in about 1949, Roy Johnson bought one of the new McCormick-Deering field choppers.  The other three farmers then hired him to fill the silos on their farms and the OK silo filler was sold to Maynard Mohn of Center City, Minnesota.  After a few years, the Mohn family also upgraded their silo filling operations; however, the OK silo filler remained stored under cover on the Mohn farm until it was put up for sale several years later at an auction.

John Bjornstad, grandnephew of Maynard Mohn, former owner of the OK silo filler inspects the knives of the OK silo filler.
John Bjornstad, grandnephew of Maynard Mohn, former owner of the OK silo filler inspects the knives of the OK silo filler.

John Bjonstad, grandnephew of Maynard Mohn, having observed the OK silo filler several times on the Mohn farm, expressed an interest in seeing the silo filler saved from the cutting torch.  At the auction, therefore, John’s grandfather, Paul Holm, of Almelund, Minnesota, purchased the silo filler for his grandson.  John and his grandfather then transported the silo filler to the site of the LeSueur Pioneer Power Show near LeCenter, Minnesota.  There, in 1990, the silo filler was set up and operated by John and his grandfather as an exhibit at the Show.

John Bjornstad and his wife pose beside the silo filler that he remembers from his childhood.
John Bjornstad and his wife pose beside the silo filler that he remembers from his childhood.

Following that Show, the silo filler was wintered at the Pioneer Power site; however, due to the shortage of storage buildings, the OK silo filler was stored outside for one of the first winters since it had been manufactured.   Unfortunately, it has not been operated as an exhibit in any of the Shows since 1990.

In August of 1994, the OK silo filler was found by the author and his brother, Mark Wells, of Billerica, Massachusetts, in about the same location where it had been stored following the 1990 Show.  Even in 1994, after four years of sitting outside in the elements, the knives and shear bar seemed to be in very good condition. The pressed-paper pulley showed evidence of having recently been treated with fuel oil.  It appeared, however, that the growing layer of rust threatened to obliterate the “OK” decal hinged blower cover and the “Algoma Foundry and Machine Co.” stencilling on the frame under the feeding table.  It was at this point that the author and his brother began to think about restoration of the OK silo filler.  Research into the proper paint scheme, the correct shade of paint, and remaking of the proper decals is currently being conducted and plans are being made for a 1995 restoration.

The Algoma Foundry and Machine Company continued to function independently until September 14, 1962, when the company was sold to Badger Northland Company, Inc.  The Algoma Company became a division of the Badger Company, with Karl Kuehn of Kaukauna, Wisconsin, serving as head of the Algoma farm equipment division.  Badger was manufacturing a short line of farm equipment, which included silo unloaders and barn cleaners, when they bought out the Algoma Company.  They hoped, through the acquisition of the Algoma Company, to broaden their line of Badger products to include forage equipment, particularly their field chopper.

In 1964, Badger Northland was in turn acquired by the Massey-Ferguson Company.  By this time, however, no silo fillers or forage equipment were being made at the Algoma site.  It was a sign of the times that only garden tractors (the Massey-Ferguson model 10) and snowmobiles were being made in the old foundry building.  In the summer of 1970, operations at the Algoma plant were entirely discontinued by Massey-Ferguson.

Before the merger with Massey-Ferguson in 1964, the president of Badger Northland was Wisconsin native Vincent Rolf.  He had been one of the founders of the Badger Farm Equipment Company in Kaukauna, Wisconsin, in 1949.  In 1965, he along with almost all of the original founders of Badger formed a new company called Calumet Corporation of Kaukauna, Wisconsin.  Calumet manufactured liquid pumps, liquid manure spreaders, and a line of trailers for transporting boats, snowmobiles, and garden tractors at its plant in Dundas, Wisconsin.  Upon learning that the old foundry building in Algoma was available, Calumet moved its manufacturing operations from Dundas to the foundry building in December of 1970, operating there until 1973.

Over the years, many people of the Algoma area were employed at the foundry:  Lester Zimmerman was a machinist at the foundry; George Bietling, Marvin Zirbel amd Doug Silmer worked there at different times; as noted previously, John Beitling worked for many years in the paint department; and Emil Bostick, now of Luxembourg, Wisconsin, worked in the stenciling department.

It is a different world now than when the foundry was first opened in 1895, reflecting the changes in farming methods which have occurred in the interim and reflecting the transition of the United States from an agricultural nation into an industrial nation.  Restoration of old farm machinery is one way in which the agricultural history of the nation can be preserved for future generations.  It is hoped that restoration of the 1943 OK silo filler will compose one more chapter of that history, a chapter which will recognize not only the farmers that used the silo filler but also the men and women who made the silo filler.


The Case Model NCM Baler and a Family’s Crucial Year

  Today Last 24 hours Last 7 days Last 30 days Total
Hits 149 1165 7946 29074 1267963
Pages views 97 716 5034 19600 985822
Unique visitors 32 206 1044 3959 242241
Unique visitors ‪(1h interval)‬ 47 413 2654 11541 543828
Unique visitors ‪(30 min interval)‬ 55 477 3022 12952 574398
Hits per unique visitor 4.66 5.66 7.61 7.34 5.23
Pages per unique visitor 3.03 3.48 4.82 4.95 4.07
The Case Model NCM baler and a Family’s Crucial Year


Brian Wayne Wells

As published in the January/February 1995 issue of

Belt Pulley Magazine

Editorial Note

The following article was published in three different magazines.  Each version of the article approached the story of the 1947 wet year in a different way.  Accordingly, there are important differences in each version of the story and, therefore, each version has been included in this reproduced here for the reader to study these differences.

Case color advertisement 2

            As related in an earlier article, the Howard Hanks family had moved to LeRoy, Minnesota from Mapleton, Minnesota in 1945.  “The Wartime Farmall H,” Belt Pulley, July/August 1994, Vol. 7, No. 4, p. 13.  They had purchased the big 400-acre Bagan farm five miles east of LeRoy, Minnesota.  The payments on the newly-purchased farm were a big concern.  The expense involved with moving a family from a renting operation to ownership of a farm was no small matter.  Then there were the usual expenses entailed in raising a large family.  Furthermore, three of the oldest Hanks children were planning to be married in 1947.  What the family needed was a period of normalcy to consolidate their financial position; however, as 1946 ended, it looked as though the family was not going to get that period of normalcy.  The Second World War had ended and prices for farm products had fallen.  On the other hand, wartime price controls had ended and farm equipment prices immediately climbed.  Then, too, there was the weather.

The fall of 1946 harvest season was very wet.  The family had to borrow a Farmall M which belonged to Reuben Jacobson just to pull the big John Deere No. 7 combine through the soggy soybean fields.  The Hanks’ 1942 Farmall H, with its new cut down steel rear wheels which were now fitted with rims and rubber tires, was unable to pull the combine as it had in the fall of 1945.  The Reuben Jacobson Farmall M had wheel weights and fluid in the tires and thus was used to harvest soybeans on the home farm, as well as for all of the custom work.

The rains started in the fall of 1946. During the fall harvest that year the Hanks family had to borrow a Farmall model M tractor to pull the large John Deere No. 7 combine through the mud of the soybean field that year.


The rain continued throughout the fall of 1946, and in the spring of 1947 it started again with a vengeance.  By the time of the first wedding that year (Bruce Hanks and Mary Keller on April 2), the ground was a quagmire.  Even the roads were a mess, and the farm tractors were employed to help negotiate these roads.

More rain came all through the spring and early summer.  Field work had to be delayed to the point where the situation began to look grim.  By the time of the second family wedding that year (Lorraine Hanks and Robert Westfall on June 25), it was clear that even the garden had failed because of the continuing rain.  As with most families of the time, gardening was not a mere hobby, but was a real source of food for the family.  The failure of the garden meant that household expenses would be just that much higher for the summer and for the following winter.

The oldest son, Fred Hanks, who had been serving in the United States Army in Italy, arrived home just in time for the second wedding on June 25.  He was shocked to find that the soybeans were not yet entirely planted, even at this late date!  The family did not complete planting soybeans until July 6.  They felt as though planting soybeans so late in the season would be a waste of time and money, and 1947 was showing every sign of being a make-or-break year for the family.  In addition, they were counting on the income that would be derived from custom combining in the neighborhood, and prospects for that income were not good unless the rain stopped.

The third family wedding that year (Marilyn Hanks and Wayne Wells) was held on July 12.  Howard and Ethel Hanks, parents of the bride, were hosting the reception at their house on the Hanks farm.  Ethel Buck Hanks, mother of the bride, was distressed that she did not have any crystal or a matched set of glassware to make the reception dinner a formal affair, and the family’s dire straits held no promise that there would be money for even such a small luxury as this.  However, Howard went uptown and negotiated with the proprietor of the hardware store to borrow a set of gobbets and a matching set of sherbet stemware.  This crystal would be used for the reception, then packaged up again and returned to the store.  Ethel was extremely pleased with the goblets and sherbet stemware when Howard brought it home several days prior to the wedding.  Ethel carefully unpacked the goblets and sherbet stemware and washed each piece in preparation for the wedding reception.  She loved the beautiful glassware and wished that she could keep the goblets and the sherbets for the weddings in the family that she knew were coming up.  However, she knew that the glassware was only borrowed from the hardware store and the glassware would have to be returned.  Accordingly, following the wedding reception, she carefully washed each piece, wrapped it and sadly placed it back into the box for the journey back to town.

The new son-in-law, Wayne Wells, had taken over the farming operation on the 160-acre farm owned by his father, George Wells, which was two miles to the west of the Hanks farm.  Wayne Wells and the Hanks family were planning to cooperate in some farming activities, i.e., corn planting and haying.  They anticipated putting the loose hay in the barn as they had in past years; however, Wayne, who had been thinking of new ways to improve the efficiency of the farming operation, explored the possibility of baling the hay for storage in the barn.  He also saw the possibilities of doing custom baling in the neighborhood.  Many of the same farmers who paid to have their oats and soybeans combined may also pay to have their hay and straw baled.  Since there were very few pickup balers in the neighborhood, the Wells and Hanks families would have a monopoly on the whole market.  Furthermore, with daughter Hildreth, age 17, and son John, age 12, still living at home on the Hanks farm, Bruce and Mary living on the Tony Machovec farm about 1/2 mile south of the Hanks farm, and with Fred’s return from the Army, there would be more than sufficient people to outfit a baling crew and still keep up with the chores.

J.I. Case advertised their new Model NCM baler as the “modern way to befter hay.” Rather than storing hay loose in the barn, the new method harvested and stored hay in the form of square bales.

The Hanks family was receptive to the suggestion of purchasing a baler in hopes of earning extra income from custom baling.  Later, they saw an advertisement for a used Case NCM baler.  In the middle of the rainy summer, it seemed like a gamble considering all of the other pressing concerns.  However, as the old saying goes, “You have to spend money to make money.”  They decided to act.

A Case Model NCM hay baler.

Continue reading The Case Model NCM Baler and a Family’s Crucial Year