Battlefield Bounty

| December 2004

'LaVaughne and I have been collecting things ever since we were married,' Stanley Wolf of rural Gettysburg, Pa., explains about their collection of rare and unusual tractors, implements and primitive agricultural tools. The fourth generation entrepreneur and farmer amassed the collection of more than 50 tractors and 500 additional agricultural pieces over a span of over 45 years.

'When I was a kid, I hunted for bullets and other battlefield artifacts on our farm,' Stan says, explaining that the collecting bug really bit him as a youngster. 'The original farm that my great-grandfather homesteaded was sold to the government for the monument in 1924; I was raised a short distance away, and I found lead everywhere.' Stan's fascination with the battle of Gettysburg eventually led him to create a battlefield tour and souvenir business. 'The history of the area is really important to our country, and to me, because my family was here during the battle,' Stan says.

Just as the battlefield artifacts provided a physical link to Stan's ancestral ground, he started collecting primitive farm tools as a remembrance of relatives, neighbors and friends. 'When one family or another would sell out, I always tried to find an old tool or something to buy at their sale to remember them with,' Stan says, opening the door to his private museum. 'Eventually, we just started looking for really unusual pieces, and those with local interest.' In time, the collection grew large enough to warrant some kind of permanent display on the Wolfs' farm.

Making a museum

Stan and LaVaughne never imagined that they would have so many primitive farm tools that it would be difficult to keep track of them, much less display them in any organized way. 'We collected these things one at a time, and one day realized there were several hundred pieces,' Stan explains. 'We had the building, so we decided to try to organize things a bit.'

On one wall of the museum, Stan has organized old carpenter's tools that belonged to a local man who built covered bridges, barns and churches in theĀ  early 1900s. A small single-goat treadmill is prominently displayed near a salesman's sample Clipper seed cleaner. The treadmill was used to power a butter churn, and the fully functional little seed cleaner convinced many local farmers to purchase the real thing. Primitive walking plows with wooden beams, planters and other farm implements line another wall. Rope twisting devices are displayed alongside root cutters. Pulleys, harnesses, manure forks, straw forks and countless other items decorate the enclosure. At the far end of the building, the Wolfs display a collection of milk bottles from every known Adams County, Pa., dairy.

One of the oldest pieces in the collection is a screw-type wagon jack that dates to about 1820. 'We had some history experts out to help date some of these things,' Stan explains. The jack is unusual because it is very coarsely threaded, and the cast iron screw and nut are mounted on a base made from a tree trunk.