Memories of Wren Oaks


| September/October 1992



The Pioneer Tractor

The Pioneer at Hesston.

7450 S. Lemon Rd. Bancroft, Michigan 48414

Many of you have heard about the Earl Marhanka estate auction in August, 1991. Advertisements for the auction appeared in the spring and summer issues of GEM last year. I want to give you some information about the events in the years preceding the auction as experienced by me, a nineteen year old college student who has spent some time over the years working with the Marhanka collection.

My father, Ralph Myrkle, has been an 'old iron' buff as long as I can remember. Through the years he has acquired four Farmalls: F-12,20,30 and an H; two John Deere B's, both unstyled; a McCormick-Deering 10-20; an Oliver 70; an Emerson Brantingham 2? HP stationary engine; a 12-24 Hart-Parr and two Rumely Oil Pulls, 20-40 G and 30-60S. He also has a few implements, including a Nichols & Shepard-Red River Special threshing machine. I grew up around this machinery and have developed a natural affinity for it. Mother has always been tolerant and encouraging; I must admit that things might not get fixed up and painted without her prodding.

In 1985 my father got a call from my cousin Mark Hemenway. An antique truck club was going to be having a meeting at Earl Marhanka's Wren Oaks Farm. Mark had been asked to get a few things out of the barn, to show the club. Knowing my father's interest in such things, Mark asked if he would help him out. There was no hesitation.

I was only twelve years old at the time and could not fully grasp what an opportunity this was. Mr. Marhanka had a collection of vast proportions: over 450 pieces, made up of tractors and trucks. What is more amazing is that he kept his whole collection in one barn! The barn is a pole building 70 ft. x 1250 ft. built in several sections that expanded with the collection. There were two 'bumper to bumper' rows of equipment down each side and two down the middle. Pages could be written about each piece.

The event itself was surprising, as Mr. Marhanka was a solitary man who seldom allowed his collection to be shown this may have been our only chance to see it. Mr. Marhanka had an unparalleled Rumely collection, so we had at them. Unfortunately, none of the Oil Pulls had been run in almost twenty years. Needless to say, this cut down on our productivity. After quite a lot of work, we were able to get the smallest, the 12-20, and two of the largest, the heavyweight and lightweight 30-60's, running acceptably. As we were a tractor oriented group, we didn't spend as much time with the trucks. I am not sure how impressed the truck folks were.