5 East 6th Street, Prophetstown, Illinois 61277
To have one antique tractor collector in the family is bad enough, at times; to have three collectors in one family can be unbearable. It can also be a way to bridge the generation gap. Grandpa Jim is 81 years old, grandson Joe is 15, and Lyle is the one in the middle. Grandpa and Joe lay claim to most of the tractors and Lyle is the mechanic.
We have a large collection of tractors and machinery and a few gas engines. In our collection are three Hart Parrs, several John Deeres, Farmalls, a binder, a sawmill, a model 'T' truck, all belonging to Grandpa. Lyle and Joe have two Case tractors, an Oliver 80, a Case threshing machine, the Lehr and 'LI' Deere, the latter two being Joe's pride and joy. We also have the gas engines, and some horse-drawn implements, and since I can't beat 'em (I am daughter-in-law, wife, and mother), I now collect dishes, toys and furniture and join 'em at the shows.
The first antique tractor we had was a Farmall F-20; then we bought the Lehr. At that time it wasn't antique just unusual. Next we got a John Deere GP, and from then on it became a way of life. Buying, selling, trading, fixing up, tearing down, scrounging for parts, taking vacations to coincide with steam shows is second nature to us. Grandpa brought the model T home from a vacation trip. He literally had most of it in bushel baskets. I told him he would never get it to run, but this summer he entered it in a local parade and won first prize!
Most of our tractors do run, some might, and some never will, but we have 27 tractors, so there is always one to work on.
We belong to antique clubs in Geneseo, Sycamore, Stephenson County and Bureau County, all in Illinois. We attend all the shows in this area that we can and we try to have as many tractors to exhibit as possible. Joe enters his 'LI' in almost all the parades in the area. He had it in the parade celebrating the 100th birthday of Tampico, Illinois the birthplace of President Reagan, which is about 18 miles from where we live.
For those unfamiliar with the Wirth's 'Big Boy,' it was manufactured by the Lehr Company, founded by four men named Leas, Early, Harkins and Rosar. The Big Boy was an 'orphan' tractor manufactured by Custom Manufacturing Corporation of Shelbyville, IN. It was only made for a couple of years. Lehr then became Dunham Lehr and today manufactures farm implements.
So, if you ever get to our part of the country, stop and take a look. We'd love to meet you. We live 7 miles southwest of Prophetstown, Illinois on Spring Hill Road. If you can't stop by the farm, look for us at the shows. You can't miss usJim is the old guy on the Hart Parrs, Joe is the kid in the John Deere T-shirt driving the LI and Lyle is the one running back and forth between them, carrying the oil can and the wrenches.
P.S.: Our older son, Tim, has now come home from the Army. He has taken a big hand in helping his dad farm and helping to restore the tractors and he has a 4 year-old son who will undoubtedly be the 4th generation in the antique collecting business! In fact, the hand-me-down tractors that he rides and the little ones that he plays with are getting to be worth their weight in gold. Maybe you could say we are a four-generation antique tractor family. But the family that antiques together, stays together and prays a lot! And we have a lot of fun together at the same time. One couldn't ask for more.