| November/December 1976

Route 4, Huntington, Indiana 46750

In reading over some old Pennsylvania Farmers I ran across an interesting series of arguments on plows. One side said left hand plows were the best and, of course, the other side promoted right plows. Why the two different plows were made was not completely solved, but as all plows were made by local blacksmiths or small one horse factories who made plows for the neighbor only; and in one locality made right hand and another made left hand, so it depended where you lived. I was raised in central Illinois and all plows were left hand until the event of tractor plows. I never saw a right hand plow until came across one at a farm sale where the owner had come from Tennessee. During World War I the manufacturers got together and decided to make right plows only to save on material for added duplication.

We used walking plows, three horse sulkey plows, two and three bottom gang plows, using four to eight horses, usually six head of horses or mules on a two bottom gang. Three horses were hitched on the tongue and three hitched in front of them tandem. This was an ideal hitch and overcame side draughts, etc. There was a great number of makes of plows as a great number of companies were making horse drawn implements of all kinds. In 1797 Charles Newbold of Burlington, New Jersey made the first cast iron plow, but this plow never became popular because farmers thought the cast iron poisoned the ground and stimulated weed growth. The first good light weight as cast iron plow was made by Jethro Wood in 1814. Those plows worked good in the eastern states where the soil was sandy, gravely or where they would scour easily.

In the middle west these plows would not scour in the light prairie soils. Steel plows were first made by Major Andrus in partnership with John Deere.

Then came Parli and Orendorf better known as P and Q whom in later years sold out to the International Harvester and that gave them a plow to add to their line of implements. The Oliver Plow Company of South Bend, Indiana became one of the most popular plow companies.

Any number of companies could be mentioned. There used to be a number of plowing matches like The Big Rock and Wheatland in northern Illinois. Plowmanship was the art of plowing regardless of the plow or the ground condition. As I ride across the country I seldom see a real good job of plowing unless its on stubble or bean ground. Plowing under a heavy coat of corn stalks is another matter. There is a lack of pride in plowing any more and the larger the farm, the poorer the quality of plowing.