Firsthand Account from a McCormick Harvester Co. Salesman

McCormick Harvester Co. salesman’s letters home paint picture of international agriculture in the early 1900s


| March 2010



Daniel B. Klopfenstein, farm equipment salesman at the turn of the century for McCormick Harvester Co. in international sales

Daniel B. Klopfenstein, farm equipment salesman at the turn of the century for McCormick Harvester Co. in international sales.

Courtesy Richard Stout

Grateful acknowledgement is given to Richard Stout and Ashley Stout, Washington, Iowa, who compiled and provided this material to Farm Collector. The complete 16-page transcript follows; read more about Daniel B. Klopfenstein in the version from the March 2010 issue of Farm Collector, “It’s a Small World.” – Ed.

Daniel B. Klopfenstein was born in 1857, in Henry County, Iowa. In the 1890s, he began selling farm equipment for the IHC line.

In the early 1900s, he was recognized as a top salesman and machinist and the McCormick Harvester Co. offered him the chance to travel overseas in their interests. Seeing the many opportunities, he accepted their offer. The following are newspaper excerpts and letters he wrote during his trips, telling of his work and the countries he visited. – Richard Stout

Note: The lines of dashes (----) in the articles below represent unreadable sections from the microfilm copy of the Washington Democrat and the Evening Journal, both newspapers based in Washington, Iowa.


Feb. 18, 1903, Washington Democrat
Down Near the Equator / Carhue, Argentine, S.A. / December 25, 1902

Mr. A.R. Miller, Washington, Iowa

Dear Friend: Well, today is Christmas, but it does not seem so, as the day is just like a July day, nice and bright. I just came in from the harvest fields. They go right ahead today, the same as any other day. We have been cutting wheat for over a week now, and it will take another week and then they will be through here and we will go farther south, I was on one ranch a few days where there was 30 square miles of wheat and oats and they have 250 binders and six steam threshing outfits and have 14,000 men working on the ranch and they kill 25,000 sheep every year for food alone, and sometimes more. But the superintendent said it was more than average that amount. 

That is one of the largest wheat farms in Argentine. I was on a larger astancho for sheep and cattle. I was where they shear 165,000 head of sheep all by clippers, the same as clippers to shear hair, only larger and run by steam. They shear a sheep every two minutes. On this same place were 65,000 black cattle and 15,000 branded mares, mostly Clydes and Normans and English Coach and they are good ones. It makes one think he is in Iowa when he sees all these good horses. They are fat as hogs. I saw them pump water all day long with a horse by a water elevator. This is with buckets on an endless chain and it would run the size of a man’s left right along. This is a great country for water. They get an endless supply at 40 feet. Where I am now, they need not wall wells only 3 feet down. The rest of the way is rock. They are limestone, but not hard. They can pick through them anywhere. One can get a solid bottom for their buildings. No sinking sand, but the solid rock below, and this is the way over a great deal of Argentine.