Route 4, Huntington, Indiana 46750
In 1915, no one would have thought that the tractor would ever replace the horse 100%, except in the large grain section in the west. During World War I years the tractor industry had made great strides, as I noted in the last chapter. Horses were higher. Fuels had been greatly improved. Labor was scarce and high priced, and was not dependable. The day of the big steam threshing rigs was numbered. Small separators became the rage. By 1920 it was estimated there were over 250,000 tractors in operation in the U. S. and Canada. Why do people buy every new invention that comes out? Any person with any age can remember parents, neighbors, and friends who bought the first automobile, tractor, sewing machine, washing machine, etc., etc., that came out. There has always been a sort of restlessness, a curiosity, or a hankering to try that which is new, whether or not it was a success or failure. They wanted something to better their standards of living, or in other words to be ahead of the neighbors. I recall in 1909 my father bought a gasoline gas outfit that produced gas out of plain gasoline for lighting our home. It served its purpose well for over ten years, or until Delco electric light plants came into use. He wanted something better both times.
Now in case some one never knew, or has forgotten it, we had a depression in 1921. At the beginning of 1921 there were about 186 companies making tractors. By 1929 the number had dropped to 47. Why? During the World War I years many of the small companies who might have been making cars changed to tractors, because the government would allot them steel to make tractors, but not for cars. So during this little depression, they found the going too hard in the tractor field and returned to making cars. However the most of them simply folded up, or changed to making something else. After a few years of hard times, things got to going better for those who survived, until the depression of the early thirties weeded out the men from the boys. Tractor prices had taken a serious drop after or during 1921. For instance Fordsons had dropped to $675. The Moline that had sold for $1325 dropped to $675. Another good make had dropped $700 under its 1920 price.
A 35-70 Nichols & Shephard belonging to Norman Pross of Luverne, North Dakota and a 15-30 Plowman owned by Elmer Larson, Moorhead, Minnesota.
In 1919 the Agric. Eng. Depart, of Ohio State Univ. held plowing contests at Columbus, Middleton, Akron, and Fostoria. They were held in the summer and fall in hard dry ground. To give you an idea as to what tractors were being made and to what tractors plowed at the showings, I have made a list of the following tractors: Cletrac 12-20, J. T. 16-30, Avery 12-25, Case 15-27, Case 10-18, Moline Universal 9-18, Ford-son, Illinois 18-36, Wellington 10-20, Huber 12-25, Parrett 12-25, Reliable 10-20, Waterloo Boy 12-25, Wallis 15-27, Titan 10-20, Aultman Taylor 15-30, International 8-16, Monarch 18-30, E B 12-20, Shelby 9-18, Hart Parr '30', Heider 9-18, Heider 12-20, Bates Steel Mule 15-22, Frick 15-28, Whitney 9-18, and La Crosse 12-24.
Probably the biggest thing that happened was the establishing of the Nebraska tests. A farmer in Nebraska had bought a Ford tractor (not Henry Ford) made in Minneapolis. It was a failure and was replaced by another which was no better. So he bought a used tractor of another make, and it was no better. Discouraged by these failures he purchased a new tractor of a popular make and that one gave him years of good service. As could be expected he was real put out, and being a state Senator, he wrote a bill providing that any tractor sold in the state of Nebraska had to pass a state test. The bill passed without any trouble. The Agric. Engineering department of State Univ. at Lincoln was given the task of setting up a testing lab. which is in existence to this very day. Due to a hard winter they did not get into operation until the spring of 1920. The first tractor to make the test was a Waterloo Boy 12-25. Needless to say this was a measure that was badly needed, and through the years it has functioned as it should. They must have kept politics out of it??
I would like to add here that I have seen two of those Ford tractors--Jim Rathhart of Foreman, North Dakota and Prairie Village of Madison, South Dakota each have one.
Due to some large operations in row crops such as corn, sorghum, cotton etc. motor cultivators began to appear in 1917. They were of two types. The first type was the small tractor that has two large drive wheels in front, one or two in the rear that could be taken off and the rear end of the frame fastened to a standard two-row horsedrawn cultivator. Those of this type were Moline Universal, Indiana, Allis Chalmers, Parrett, Boring, Allen Water Balast and Detroit Line Drive. The other type was a regular motor cultivator, usually built around a two-row cultivator with one or two small wheels in front to guide by. Chief among these were the Avery one-row 4 cyl. or two-row 6 cyl. E B, Bailor and International Harvester. Several small 5-10 tractors like the Avery and Taylor could be used to pull a cultivator, but it took two to operate such a rig.
Tractors that came out from 1917 to 1920 which are still well remembered were: International 8-16, Hart Parr '30', International 15-30, formerly the 12-25 Titan, Indiana, Case 15-27, later to become the 18-32, Wallis K 15-27, had formally been the three-wheeled Model J, La Crosse 12-24, Frick 12-25, Samson M Model M, Minn. 22-44, Case 22-40 later in 1924 it was rerated 25-45. Oil Pull 12-20, 16-30, and 20-40. This last tractor became extremely popular. I can account for at least 48 and I know that's about one half that still exists yet today.