1939 John Deere Model L

Shows Up at a Church in Sulphur, Oklahoma

| March/April 1999

  • Model 'L'
    Model 'L' at Sulphur, Oklahoma, United Methodist Church site, October 1998. Owner is Harwood Rowe.
  • 'L' Holding Base
    'L' holding base of north garage door section during 'all hands' raising operation.
  • Gallon Jug
    Gallon jug is for about 3-4 hours operation.

  • Model 'L'
  • 'L' Holding Base
  • Gallon Jug

8816 S. 113th West Ave., Sapulpa, Oklahoma 74066-8488

The 1939 John Deere Model L showed up at a church construction site in Sulphur, Oklahoma, and Duane Lee knew that this little 'L' must have an interesting history.

Harwood S. Rowe was born in 1927. His father farmed with mules until Harwood was 13 years old. His dad exchanged his mules for a Model L John Deere. It took some learning for his dad's changeover. His dad was driving the new L in the yard and suddenly the clothesline came toward him and he yelled WHOA!, but the 'L' didn't. The mishap messed up the breather stack, and the clothesline didn't fare well either.

Changing to the L reduced the annual feed cost for the mules, which was $120 a year. The L cost was about $40 a year.

The L had a belt pulley that turned a small hand-fed ensilage cutter. They also had a very small thresher that was used far and wide for the peanut harvest. On their farm they grew cotton, corn, maize, peanuts and cane for ensilage and sorghum syrup.

His dad took the kids to the swimming hole in the summertime in a small trailer.

Harwood bought this L in 1976 and another in 1978. Some parts were missing from both tractors. The lower section of the grill was missing, so Harwood fabricated a replacement from memory. He had no photos at the time. He built a snowplow/dozer blade around 1981. He used the 12' moldboard plow to plow his large garden and the cultivator to work it down. The L is equipped to pull a trailer when hauling is required.

The Sulphur United Methodist Church is building a new facility which will enclose 22,000 square feet, all steel with brick exterior. Remarkably, the construction is mostly by volunteers. Teams are organized by the Volunteers in Missions & NOMADS.

The NOMADS completed 80 projects in winter 1998. Many of our members are from the 'Deep Snow' Belt of the USA and RV south to the warmer climates until May. This Sulphur project will see many teams and local people donating with a 'labor of love.'

We, NOMADS, and church volunteers appreciated the L during the garage double door wall raising. A 40 foot section in one piece and the JD L held the base while it was braced and anchored. It is also used to do some of the leveling and spreading the gravel on the drive areas of the new church.

Duane Lee's great-granddaughter gave us a laugh a couple weeks ago. She was with he mother at a farm supply store. The garden tractors attracted her and she crawled on one. Her mother asked her to get off. Two-year-old Baylee didn't want to, and Mother replied, 'It isn't ours.' To which Baylee asked, 'Whose is it? John Deere's?'


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