Seats on horse-drawn implements helped boost farm productivity during and after the Civil War.
The horse-drawn, 1-row corn cultivator was the first implement on which an operator seat was mounted. Even with the added weight of the driver, a single team of horses usually provided all the “pull power” the implement and rider needed.
The operator of this Van Brunt press drill needed a set of extra-long reins and a loud voice to drive this 3-horse team. The two small wheels in front of the drill helped carry the weight of the tongue and double-trees.
In 1875, the John Deere Plow Works in Moline, Ill., began selling a riding 1-bottom plow named after the inventor, Gilpin Moore. Within a decade, nearly 150,000 Gilpin plows were sold annually. The riding 2-bottom gangplow was added to the Deere line in the early 1880s. Moore also helped design early John Deere gangplows.
A 4-horse hitch was needed to pull this disc harrow over a freshly plowed field. No factory safety committee today would approve a design putting the operator’s seat directly above the disc harrow blades.
This ground-driven, 6-foot-sickle bar mower needed maximum traction to run properly. Because of that, the seat was placed directly above the axle, so the operator’s weight was carried by both wheels.
George Brown of Galesburg, Ill., designed, patented and manufactured one of the first successful horse-drawn, riding 2-row mechanical corn planters. Charles Deere and Alvah Mansur, owners of the Deere sales branches in Kansas City and St. Louis, were so impressed with the performance of and farmer enthusiasm for Brown’s planter that they built a factory in Moline, Ill., to manufacture a similar corn planter.
Deere & Mansur planter: Nearly 100 years ago, the horse-drawn, 2-row nos. 9, 99 and 999 riding corn planters were manufactured at the Deere & Mansur factory in Moline, Ill. Prior to 1912, that factory was not officially a part of Deere & Co. Therefore, when introduced, these three planters were painted red and had yellow wheels. This photo of a no. 999 planter was taken from an early St. Louis sales branch catalog.