I read with great interest Bill Vossler’s article, “Legends of
the Silver King Tractors” (Farm Collector, November 2005).
It was a good article and conveyed the history of the
Fate-Root-Heath Co. in great detail.
I stumbled upon a mystery about the Fate-Root-Heath Co. and
their tractor a couple of years ago, and wonder if Bill or anyone
else can shed any light on it.
As Bill pointed out, not long after the Plymouth tractor’s
introduction, Chrysler-Plymouth dealers started getting people in
their showrooms wanting to buy a tractor. Walter Chrysler’s legal
department swung into action, claiming ownership of the Plymouth
name, which they had used on their low-priced cars since 1928. This
is when the single, broken-down 1910 Plymouth car finally earned
its keep. It proved that Fate-Root-Heath had built a Plymouth car
long before the Chrysler Corporation was even a gleam in Walter’s
eye. However, FRH sold the rights to the Plymouth name to Chrysler
and cast about for a new name for the little tractor, settling on
A while back I bought a copy of The Tractor Field Book,
published in 1934. In it was an entry for the new tractor built by
the Fate-Root-Heath Co. of Plymouth, Ohio, as well as a full-page
advertisement from the same company, but something is different.
I’ve only ever heard of the two names, Plymouth and then Silver
King, which brings up my question about the tractor in the 1934
The Tractor Field Book. The full-page advertisement is
headlined: “It’s New, Modern, Revolutionary! The FRH Tractor.”
Further down, it reads: “The FRH Tractor is revolutionary in
design, construction and performance. The FRH offers all of the
newest improvements in tractor building …” and: “It’s a Different
Kind of Tractor – this new FRH.” The photos of the tractor show the
vertical radiator bar without a cast-in name, and nowhere do the
names Plymouth or Silver King appear.
Did Fate-Root-Heath build any tractors without either the name
Plymouth or Silver King? Or was the FRH name in the advertisement
merely a stopgap to meet a catalog deadline during the time they
and Chrysler were negotiating about use of the Plymouth name? I
would guess that a genuine FRH tractor, in the unlikely event that
one ever existed, would be a real gem in the crown of any Silver
Isn’t rusty iron fascinating?
– Sam Moore
2337 State Route 45 S.
Salem, OH 44460-9496