TRACTOR MEMORIES AND OBSERVATIONS

By Staff
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Courtesy of John M. Hamilton, 2015 Arthur Avenue, Charleston, Illinois 61920
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Courtesy of Orville A. Hendrich, Route 1, Box 334, Palmyra, Indiana 57164, and with the permission of The Corydon Democrat newspaper of Corydon, Indiana.

Box 137, Athens, Illinois 62613.

My first memories of gas tractors go back to the year 1927 when
Frank Kallian and sons threshed at our place near La Valle in Sauk
County, Wisconsin using a 16-30 Oil-Pull tractor and a 28-44
Advance Rumely Separator. This tractor was purchased in the summer
of 1921 and was used for threshing until 1938.

That same fall, our neighbor purchased a used 18-32 Case tractor
and used it in a Case Silo Filler. Then in the summer of 1928, he
purchased a new Case 28 x 46 threshing machine and threshed in our
run until 1934. I recall that in August 1931, while they were
threshing at one of the neighbors the tractor developed valve
trouble. They ran the tractor into a shed, attached a chain hoist
to the rafters and pulled the head off. After this was done, they
took the head to a machine shop in Baraboo, Wisconsin and had the
valves ground. The last year I helped thresh around this tractor
was in the summer of 1946. I recall that it didn’t start too
well when the motor was hot, so they let it run while we ate
dinner.

It was also in 1927 that another neighbor bought a new Fordson
tractor with a Ferguson mounted plow. As I recall, it had a lever
to lift it out of the ground.

In those years, nearly everyone had a little corn to shred after
the silo was filled. One of our neighbors had a Rosenthal 4-roll
corn shredder and in 1929, he shredded at our place using a Fordson
tractor for power. Then in 1931, he traded the Fordson for a new
Wallis 20-30 tractor. I recall my Dad telling that when they were
shredding corn at our place in the fall of 1932, our neighbor broke
the shifting lever in the Wallis tractor and he used my Dad’s
staple puller to shift gears.

When the state of Wisconsin black topped all of the State
Highways in the summer of 1937, this eliminated tractors with spade
lugs from traveling on them. Since the neighbor with the Wallis
tractor was now threshing in our run, he traded the Wallis tractor
for a new Massey-Harris Model ’25’ tractor, equipped with
rubber tires. I helped thresh around this tractor from 1937-1943
and

Can you tell what is unusual about this picture? The wagon has
solid wooden wheels with bearing that has been pressed in. At one
time, the wagon wheels had steel bands around them. The wagon is
made, simply by using an eye bolt for the turning arm and running
the shaft through the eye bolt.

I liked it very much. The owner of the Massey-Harris tractor
died in the fall of 1945. My cousin then used the tractor for corn
shredding and farm work, but since it was rather clumsy for field
work, he traded it off for a Massey-Harris ’33’ tractor in
1950.

When I was a boy, I was fascinated by the Oil Pull tractor. In
the fall of 1932, the Inter State Construction Company of Madison,
Wisconsin, crushed gravel in a pit a few miles from our farm. They
were using two 30-60 Oil Pull tractors. One furnished power for the
Primary Breaker and the other one was operating the Secondary
Crusher and Screening Plant. After they had finished crushing
gravel for Highway 58, they left their equipment at the pit. Then
in December 1933, they pulled both crushers behind one Oil Pull and
took them to La Valle where they loaded them on a freight car. The
other Oil Pull was pulled into a pasture near the pit where it
stood until it was scrapped in 1942.

I recall seeing new Oil Pull tractors at the Juneau County Fair
at Mauston, Wisconsin in the summer of 1928. And I also recall
driving by the Advance Rumely Thresher Company factory branch in
Madison, Wisconsin in the fall of 1930.

In the years that I lived on the farm, my Dad subscribed to
Successful Farming and I looked at the advertisements with great
interest. I will always remember the advertisement in the February
1931 issue which announced the new Rumely 6 A tractor. For some
reason or other, this made a deep impression on me and I dreamed of
the day when I would own one. Little did I realize that one year
later the Advance Rumely Thresher Company would just be history. In
the summer of 1962, I passed through La Porte, Indiana, on a train
and I could see the words ‘Advance Rumely Thresher Company’
painted on the side of the buildings now occupied by
Allis-Chalmers. It brought back many memories.

In the early days of the tractor industry, there were many small
firms in this country who assembled tractors using standard
component parts. One such firm was the Wisconsin Farm Tractor
Company of Sauk City, Wisconsin. When I was a boy, there were quite
a number of these tractors around Loganville, Wisconsin. It was my
privilege to attend the Badger Steam and Gas Engine Club Show at
the Sauk County Fair Grounds at Baraboo, Wisconsin this past
summer. At this show I saw a beautifully restored Wisconsin
tractor.

Since I am a native of Wisconsin, I would like to also mention
the Lauson tractor which was made by the John Lauson Tractor
Company of New Holstein, Wisconsin. They introduced a large six
cylinder tractor in 1929. I saw a Lauson tractor threshing near
Reedsburg, Wisconsin in the summer of 1929.

One of the last tractors built by a small firm in Wisconsin was
the Eagle which was made by the Eagle Manufacturing Company in
Appleton. I believe that they introduced their first six cylinder
tractor in 1930. The only Eagle tractor that I ever saw was an
Eagle 6B row crop tractor. This was at the Sauk County Fair in
Baraboo in August, 1940. The Eagle Manufacturing Company was
purchased by the Four Wheel Drive Auto Company (now called FWD
Corp.) of Clintonville, Wisconsin, in 1941 and I don’t believe
that any more Eagle tractors were built after that time.

In the fall of 1931, I saw a new Rock Island tractor in a
dealer’s shed in Reedsburg. Many years later, I saw one of
these tractors being used in a sawmill near La Valle.

In the above picture, John Bird of Depauw demonstrates a 1885
‘groundhog’ separator powered by an old Witte engine. This
was on the Hendrich farm in August of 1969. Orville A. Hendrich has
a demonstration each year on his farm and everyone is invited
free.

I left the farm in the fall of 1949 and started to attend
Concordia Seminary in Springfield, Illinois. After graduating from
this institution in June 1955, we moved to McClusky, North Dakota.
While living out there, I saw many tractors that I had never seen
in Wisconsin. For example: McCormick-Deering W-40 and WD-40; Oliver
90 and 99; Minneapolis-Moline FTA, VTS and CB; Allis-Chalmers
20-35. One farmer had two large tractors in his yard though they
were not being used. One was an Avery 45-65 and the other was an
Aultman-Taylor 30-60. As far as I know, they are still there.

I do not consider myself an expert in tractors but I do try to
help preserve the history of the firms that helped to bring the
tractor into a prominent place in American Agriculture.

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