Home made Tractor

No. 1. Home made Tractor, built in 1914 by Henry Matz.

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Walters, Minnesota

My first tractor had no name as I built it myself in the year 1914 or 1915. It took several months to build it. I worked on it only in spare time and evenings. It had two speeds, one forward and one reverse speed about 2 miles per hour. If more speed was was needed I would speed up the engine. I used a 6 Horse Power Galloway stationary engine and with an adjustable saw frame I used to travel all over the neighborhood and sawed wood for miles around. I got $1.50 per hour which was fairly good wages those days. There were not many tractors, only for threshing and heavy belt work. All farming was done with horses. There were some tractors such as Hart Par, Titen, Mogal, used for threshing. Later on I sold my home made tractor and bought my first factory made tractor which was a Samson, and it was a very good tractor. Some of my neighbors had 'Fordson', 'Titen', and 'Happy Farmer', and as years went on more different tractors became in use so at last it put all horses out of work. Now it is quite rare to see a team of horses in the field.

With old horse farming we used to make money even when butter fat was $0.16, hogs $0.03, and corn $0.10 per bushel. I know one year people used corn for fuel when it was $0.10 per bushel. Those days also wheat was $0.30 a bushel or even $0.36 and labor was $1.00 per day.

When I was 17 years old I ran a Minneapolis return flue Steam Engine, an old straw burner and got $1.50 per day. One fall we put in thirty-six days of threshing. Those were long hour days. I got $54.00 for those thirty-six days. Work started in the morning at 4 AM and we worked until way late at night. I will not say those were the best days. But with all our modern machinery now days it is still hard to make both ends meet. We often think what a big change in the past 50 or 60 years. What will it be in the next 50 years?