Here Today, Gone Tomorrow
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Emerson-Brantingham Implement Co. of Rockford, Ill, was also a very successful farm machinery company. In 1912 it bought a pair of tractor companies - Reeves & Co., and Gas Traction Co. -whose tractors were respected and began selling Reeves and Big Four tractors. By 1917, the company manufactured its own E-B tractors, which lasted until at least 1928.
One of the best-known orphan tractors is the Buffalo-Pitts, made by Buffalo-Pitts Co. of Buffalo, N.Y. Though it's a well-known name, little is known about the company. As historian C.H. Wendel writes in Standard Catalog of Farm Tractors 1890 to 1960, 'Information on the Buffalo-Pitts tractors is exceedingly difficult to find.'
Then there's the Fairbanks-Morse tractor, manufactured by Fairbanks, Morse & Co. of Chicago, the extension of a company organized in 1820. The firm sold tractors from 1910 to 1918, though it's unclear why the company quit making tractors.
Another well-known company is Reeves & Co. of Columbus, Ind. The story of inventive genius Milton Reeves, . who started building grain threshers in 1874, is interesting. He received the Edison Award in 1910 for his farm related inventions and gave all the credit to his wife as his inspiration.
Nichols & Shepard Co. was a well known business that originated in a blacksmith shop owned by John Nichols in Battle Creek, Mich., in 1848. Nichols & Shepard became well known for its steam-traction engines, which were very well built and had an excel lent reputation. Grain threshers were also part of the company's success. Its tractors were sold from 1911 through 1927, and several are found in private collections today. Though Wallis tractors, built by the Wallis Tractor Co. of Racine, Wis., weren't well known, but they became well known when they merged into the J.I. Case Threshing Machine Co. The Wallis tractor logo was a bear with 'Wallis' on the side, and the company sold tractors named 'Cub' and 'Cub jr.' long before International Harvester Co.
Who are they again?
Many companies aren't well known, but nevertheless interest or entertain old-iron collectors. The Four Drive Co. of Big Rapids, Mich., for example, was perhaps the first viable four-wheel-drive tractor. Or the Kardell tractor, manufactured by the Kardell Truck & Tractor Co. of St. Louis, made the Kardell 'Four-in-One' tractor and used the slogan, 'Four machines in one - and each machine has special features.' The Indiana tractor, manufactured by Indiana Silo & Tractor Co. of Anderson, Ind., weighed only 2,200 pounds, and though it was a dangerous machine when backing up with loads - it tended to flip - it was manufactured and sold from 1919 through 1924, probably the worst economic time in the history of American agriculture.