For a while, Bill Hagerdon was content to watch his friends as they built collections of antique farm equipment. But about 20 years ago, the now-retired Mapleton, Iowa, banker found he could no longer resist the itch to start assembling his own collection.
Countless sales, private buys and hundreds of pieces later, Bill has filled several buildings with antique farm relics and parked larger pieces in out-of-the-way areas on his family farm.
“Friends of mine from Mapleton — Orville Lundeen and Carl Maas — piqued my interest,” Bill says. “They collected horse-drawn implements, wagons, buggies and carriages.”
Digging into the past
Bill got his start with walking plows. “I acquired some 30 to 40 of them,” he says, “including large wood-beam plows, left-hand plows, rollover plows and more.” Two John Deere plows — a wood beam rollover plow and a wood beam subsoiler — are among the rare pieces in his collection. “Both of those plows are in excellent condition,” Bill says. “They date back to the 1800s. They’re two of the prized items in my collection.”
As his plow collection grew, Bill began finding small implements. “I started buying other horse-drawn farm implements, like cultivators,” he says. “I also started picking up farm tools.”
As he collected new pieces, Bill made arrangements for sandblasting and restoration; then came the job of finding a place to house the additions to an admittedly varied collection.
“You’ll find everything from the early horse-drawn equipment to hit-and-miss engines and equipment, like grain grinders and pump jacks that go with them,” he says. “I have 15 to 20 engines and all are restored. Most are John Deere, but I also have McCormick-Deering and Cushman engines ranging from 1-1/2 to 6 hp.”
The farm where Bill stores and displays his collection has been in his family for nearly 100 years. “My parents raised me there along with two brothers and two sisters,” Bill says. “It holds a lot of sentimental value for me. The barn, where I have many of my items displayed, was restored with new exterior metal doors and windows so it’s an inviting place to view some of my collection.”
For many years, Bill’s vintage gems were tucked away in storage. Even his family didn’t fully understand the extent of his collection. When family members began planning a 75th birthday party for him, Bill decided it was time to organize a formal display.
“Most of my family was aghast at the sight of the collection,” he says. “They had no idea I had collected such a variety and wide range of pieces. Many of them had never seen most of the items that were in the display.”
The large number of hay tools is a nod to his boyhood on the farm. “I remember well how Dad used the hay track, carrier and large hay forks and slings in our barn every summer,” Bill says. “Along with my brothers, Rich and Ron, I helped a lot with haying in the 1950s.”
Bill’s son Darin initiated the tractor collection the two share when he purchased a 1939 F-20 Farmall almost 20 years ago. “We added my dad’s 1954 Super MTA to the tractor collection, too,” Bill says. “We have about 15 tractors, all restored and in running condition.”
That collection also includes a Farmall Cub with a mounted plow and cultivator as well as an International Harvester Co. Super A, Farmall Model B, Farmall Super C and several H Farmalls. The set is rounded out by a Farmall M, a 1954 Super H and a Super MTA.
A yellow 1946 John Deere Model LI adds a unique touch. L series tractors were first introduced in 1938. Initially, the L featured a Hercules engine; it was eventually replaced with a John Deere 10 hp engine. The LI series was introduced in 1942, designed for industrial use.
The Hagerdons also have a Massey-Harris Pony tractor. Massey-Harris introduced the Pony tractor in 1947. With 10 hp on the drawbar, it was made for small operations and truck farms. The series was produced for about 10 years.
One family’s heritage
Another prized tractor in the family collection is a 1927 McCormick-Deering 15-30 that’s been on the Hagerdon farm since the 1920s. It once powered a large threshing machine and a large family-owned sawmill used for custom work into the 1940s.
“Preserving the past has always been important to my family,” Bill adds. “As we watch the modern ag industry develop and grow, we are able to retain some artifacts and memories and reminisce about our family’s farming past from time to time.
“I see my collection as an inspiration to many friends, both farm and non-farm folks. I hope people who view the collection will have a better understanding of past agricultural history. Lack of storage space has forced me to slow down in purchasing new items but I will always have an eye out for something unique (and small) that I can still handle.” FC
For more information:
— Contact Bill Hagerdon, (712) 880-0276, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Loretta Sorensen is a lifelong resident of southeast South Dakota. She and her husband farm with Belgian draft horses and collect vintage farm equipment. Email her at email@example.com.