First Things: Family Connections and Tractor Collections

For some people, tractor collections are the glue that sustain their family connections across generations.

family connections, tractor collections - editor Nancy Smith

At farm shows and reunions, attendees are often more than happy to talk about their tractor collections with FC Editor Nancy Smith.

Photo: Farm Collector Magazine Staff

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Family tractor collections, when they exist, commonly span three and sometimes four generations. Among collectors, they're common, and strong.

A recent letter from reader Tom Terfehr in Connecticut tells how he has come to better understand what he calls his 'quiet passion for these old machines,' and how they strengthen his family connections across time. The Terfehrs have used some of the same tractors to farm land in Effington Township, Minn., for many years, and Tom writes, 'I find such peace when I work on them, drive them along Minnesota country roads or across the farm fields.'

Or take the Hadley family. Larry Hadley is a grandson in this chain of generations, and his penchant for saving the older generation's tractors hasn't stopped with just his grandfather's first machine. Larry also has collected one tractor from each of his great-uncles on both sides of the family. 'They're all deceased now,' he says, 'but they farmed with all colors. It's kind of a different collection.' He has his Uncle Jim's 1936 Oliver 70, Uncle Madison's 1956 John Deere 420, Uncle Dick's 1949 Case DC, Uncle Ted's 10-20 McCormick-Deering, Uncle Bert's 1935 orange Allis-Chalmers WC and Uncle Ernie's 1950 yellow Minneapolis-Moline, and he and his wife, Roberta, also own a 1937 Massey-Harris Challenger that's just like the one her grandfather owned.

'I'm just carrying on,' Larry says. 'I'm just the next one in line.'

That's an exciting place to be — the next one in line — when you're sustained by such a special bond. Thanks to both Tom and Larry for sharing their great tractor stories with me. Thanks to all of you who have called or written, or taken the time to talk with me at shows about your vintage farm machines and what they mean to you. I love hearing all these stories; I think they represent a very reassuring undercurrent in modern life. So please, keep them coming! FC