Allis-Chalmers traces its roots to the Decker & Seville company, who began producing stone burr flour mills in 1847. In 1861, Edward P. Allis purchased Decker & Seville at a sheriff's sale and renamed the enterprise Edward P. Allis & Co. Reliance Works. The Allis-Chalmers 6-12 General Purpose was produced from 1919-1926.
Early model tractors were used not only to pull implements but also, via belts, to power hammer mills, husker-shredders, threshing machines and other equipment. However, the 48-inch center-to-center dimension of the 6-12's drive wheels fit exactly into 48-inch rows, and also worked successfully in 40- to 42-inch rows, making possible varied applications in plowing, mowing and cultivating. Farmers simply sawed off the excess length of the wooden tongue on their cultivator, drilled new holes and they had a motor cultivator.
The Nebraska Tractor Test rated tractors on drawbar and belt horsepower. In 1920, the Allis-Chalmers 6-12 was rated at 6 hp on the drawbar and 12 hp on the belt. Allis-Chalmers produced 303 General Purpose 6-12 tractors in 1919 (about 1,470 in the total run). About 30 are thought to exist today.