1408 N. Van Buren, Ottumwa, Iowa 52501
The Wilson tractor was manufactured in Ottumwa, Iowa in 1921-24
at 1102 East Main Street. At the same address was the American
Mining Tool Company, which had a foundry and machine shop where
mining tools and supplies were made. The Wilson Company was
incorporated March 29,1920, and shares of stock were issued. It was
re incorporated May 16, 1921. The officers were: Fred D. Wilson,
president; Albert D. Wilson, vice president; Horace R. Wilson,
secretary; and Albert H. Wilson, treasurer. In 1918-19, Albert D.
and Horace had a hardware store. They sold the store and joined
their father and brother to start the tractor factory. Fred was the
engineer and designed the tractor and later the Road
A total of 25 roller and ball bearings, exclusive of the motor,
were used in the tractor. All four wheels are alike, as are the
four sprockets, the four radius rod boxings and all wheel bearings.
The two halves of the main transmission case are duplicates, as are
both worms, both worm gears, both multiple disc clutches, both
cross shafts, both drive pinions, both bull gears and both bull
gear cases. All of the gears and bearings are enclosed in dust
proof cases and run in oil. This tractor had a differential
steering device that could be steered by levers or with lines from
a pulled implement.
In the early 1920’s the tractor market was very competitive.
The Wilsons did not have a sales organization and also were short
on operating capital. After three years, the family decided they
were better off staying in the hardware business. The patents for
the tractor and road maintainer were sold to the Austin-Western
Company in Chicago, Illinois. Fred Wilson became an engineer for
Austin-Western. Albert became sales manager for A-W in Iowa and
Horace in Montana and Wyoming.
The Wilson road maintainer was designed to be used with the
Fordson tractor. This device had runners and a planning blade that
would shave off the high spots and deposit the dirt in the low
spots. The Wilson tractor was painted grey, and I suppose the road
maintainer was painted the same color.
In the early 1920’s the town of Batavia, Iowa had one of
these Wilson tractors pulling a road grader to maintain their
In 1907-08 while living near my father, the Wilson family tried
to develop a mechanical corn picker, but the success of this
venture is unknown. Dad told about the Wilsons working on a horse
drawn corn picker. The picker might have been sold to John Deere,
because Fred Wilson was an engineer for John Deere for a short
time. The material and information for the Wilson Company was
furnished by Merle Wilson, a descendent of the Wilson family, also
by the Ottumwa Public Library and the Wapello County Court