507 South Seventh, Atwood, Kansas 67730
On March 27, 1999, I went to Grantville, Kansas (northeast of Topeka), for the late Eldon Bright sale. One of the tractors my brother Art and I purchased was a Gibson I. The body was fairly straight, but the steering wheel and exhaust had been bent two years earlier when the shed in which it was being stored collapsed under the weight of snow. The motor was also stuck, because of the water from the melted snow.
Art had previously purchased and restored a Gibson D, and later a Gibson E. The fact that the Gibsons were made so close to home (Longmont, Colorado) sparked my interest.
I started restoring our treasure by first freeing up the motor and then completing a little work on it. At that time, I decided to take the Gibson I to a professional, Bill's Repair Shop in Superior, Nebraska, where Art and I have taken other tractors. Researching the Gibson further, we learned that Gibson made between 50,000 and 60,000 tractors, which included eight different models. Approximately 500 Gibson H's and approximately 500 Gibson I's were produced. Because of the rarity of our Gibson I, we asked Bill to restore it completely. Bill happened to have a Gibson I of his own that he had restored.
Art and I decided to go to the Rock Island, Illinois, sale together. On our way, we stopped off at Bill's to leave some parts. Bill was busy and asked me to show Art his collection. I happened to look at the serial number of Bill's Gibson I and noted it to be I 608. I told Art that our tractor was I 609. We finished touring Bill's very impressive tractor collection, visited with Bill for a short time, and went on our way to Rock Island, forgetting to tell Bill about the serial numbers.
A couple of weeks later, Bill called to say he had a load of tractors done for us, so I headed back to Superior. Our Gibson I was very impressively restored. At the time, I told Bill about the serial numbers being I 608 and I 609.
We took our Gibson I to its first show in Stockton, Kansas. When that show ended on July 25, we loaded a load of tractors and headed for the next show at the Antique Thresher Show in Bird City, Kansas, July 29.
On July 26, I arrived at Bird City with our first load of tractors. I noticed a Gibson I out in the line of tractors, so after unloading, I took a minute to go over and look at it. I wanted to see the difference between it and ours. It was equipped the same, and then I noted the serial number to be I 607. I was so taken aback, I had to take a second look. I have heard of two consecutive serial numbers but have never heard of three of any brand. It just doesn't happen. After looking again, sure enough, it was I 607. WOW! I couldn't believe it-I found three! That was like winning the lottery.
On my way back to Stockton, I phoned Art and told him the story. I said, 'I must have looked at it wrong-it couldn't be.'
Art's son-in-law, Lonnie Coon, was helping me haul the tractors to Bird City. We loaded both trailers and headed back to Bird City. We hurried with the unloading, Lonnie thinking that I had lost my mind, and me still not believing what I had seen earlier. When we finished unloading, Lonnie and I both went to look at the Gibson I and the serial number. Sure enough it was true! The number was as I had first read it-I 607.
On July 28, I called Bill Anderson and told him about the serial numbers of the Gibson I's. I told him it sure would be nice to get the 'Three of a Kind' together. Bill said he was not planning on taking his Gibson I, and it would take some work to get it dug out. However, on July 29, at the Bird City Thresher Show, Bill and his wife Peggy Anderson pulled their Gibson I into the show. WOW! We now had three Gibson I's with three consecutive serial numbers at one show! Since the weather did not permit us to get pictures of the rare threesome at that time, we decided to take them to Clay Center, Nebraska, tractor show, where we did get some good pictures of the rarity.
Gibson I S # I 607: Spent most of its time in Flagler, Colorado; owned by Tri-State Antique Engine and Thresher Association of Bird City, Kansas.
Gibson I S # 608: Spent most of its life around Stockton, Kansas; owned by Bill and Peggy Anderson, Superior, Nebraska.
Gibson I S # 609: Came from the late Eldon and Mildred Bright in Grantville, Kansas. Now owned by Arthur and Mae Wilkens (Wilkens Mfg. Inc.) of Stockton, Kansas, and Jim and Betty Wilkens of Atwood, Kansas.
The 'Three of a Kind' can be seen at Bird City Antique Engine Show at Bird City, Kansas, starting the last Thursday in July 2000. (July 27-30 2000.) Hope to see you there.