Treasures Preserve Family Heritage

A 1919 Twin City tractor and 1928 Chevy truck are proud survivors for JD Schmidt.

| December 2017

  • JD at the wheel of his John Deere Model R, presiding as grand marshal over Wagon Mound’s 104th Bean Day Parade.
    Photo by Leslie C. McManus
  • “My uncle was a mechanic, and he was a very particular kind of guy. When he worked on something, it didn’t go together until everything was just right,” JD Schmidt says. “That’s why some of this stuff is still going.” Shown here: the 1928 Chevrolet truck.
    Photo by By Leslie C. McManus
  • JD (at 21 months) aboard his dad’s Twin City 17-28, a tractor all but identical to his uncle’s 1919 Twin City 12-20.
    Photo by Leslie C. McManus
  • JD’s dad, Edwin Schmidt, bought this Holt combine in Texas shortly before moving to New Mexico. “He would have had to hire someone to haul it to New Mexico,” JD says. “It was too big for that little truck (the 1928 Chevrolet).”
    Photo by By Leslie C. McManus
  • “The combine (shown here with the 1919 Twin City tractor) was unloaded on the fly,” JD says. “It’s up to the truck driver to stay under the tube where the wheat comes out and then take the grain to the granary. We had an elevator to get it up into our granary.”
    Photo by By Leslie C. McManus

The area surrounding Wagon Mound, New Mexico, about 70 miles south of the Colorado line in northeastern New Mexico, gets less than 20 inches of rainfall a year. Today, no one would consider it farm country. But JD Schmidt recalls a time when a few stubborn, gritty men did.

“I was born in Newton, Kansas,” he says, “but years ago, my dad and my uncle were looking for a place to make a living. They went to the Texas panhandle for a little while, but when I was 3, in 1930, my folks came to Wagon Mound and I’ve been here ever since.”

Among his keepsakes are a 1919 Twin City 12-20 tractor and a 1928 Chevrolet truck that were important parts of his family’s farming operation in those years. And, until about 17 years ago, he still had the Holt combine his dad bought as a young man.

Now 89, JD has clear memories of growing up in rural New Mexico. Just 9 when his dad died, he was raised in part by his uncle, Simon Schmidt, the father of two sons. “Me and my brother and our cousins were raised like four brothers,” he says.



In the 1930s, during the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression, “people were literally starving out of this country,” JD says. But a decade later, some – Simon among them – persisted in trying to raise wheat near Wagon Mound. Perhaps motivated by the presence of a family-owned Holt combine, Simon did everything he could to eke out a crop.

“This country is not good farming country,” JD says. “The only farming done here now is where streams run out of the mountains and they grow hay.” Seventy-five years ago, Simon attempted to grow summer fallow wheat. “He’d try to use two years’ rain to grow one crop,” JD says. “He wouldn’t graze cattle on that wheat in the winter. His theory was to let the wheat grow as much as it would. If you didn’t and you had a dry winter, when the spring winds came, you’d have a dust storm on your hands. And once that started, you’ve got nothing.”

Jwall
12/23/2017 12:53:14 PM

I remember when he bought that steam engine. He found it in Wichita, Ks. I think it was '76 or '77. Herb & Harold Ottaway, Joyland Park owners, had quite a collection back then. Harold had to replace a couple of flues before JD would take it. Once they were tested we loaded and were on our way. About 5 miles down the road we stopped and checked the chains. Pulled over on interstate in a residential neighborhood. Quite a few kids gathered at the fence to view this. I rode with him back to my house. Every year he was the main event in the Bean Day parade in Wagon Mound held on Labor Day. Locals are still talking about it. It's good to know where it's at. Thank you Mr. Adams for giving it new life. JD has talked about it often.. JwaLL


Jwall
12/23/2017 12:53:12 PM

I remember when he bought that steam engine. He found it in Wichita, Ks. I think it was '76 or '77. Herb & Harold Ottaway, Joyland Park owners, had quite a collection back then. Harold had to replace a couple of flues before JD would take it. Once they were tested we loaded and were on our way. About 5 miles down the road we stopped and checked the chains. Pulled over on interstate in a residential neighborhood. Quite a few kids gathered at the fence to view this. I rode with him back to my house. Every year he was the main event in the Bean Day parade in Wagon Mound held on Labor Day. Locals are still talking about it. It's good to know where it's at. Thanks Floyde


FLOYDEA
12/5/2017 9:00:17 AM

Another interesting story about my friend JD is his Minneapolis Threshing Machine. This is a 1913 steam tractor. My son and I bought this from JD in around 1996 and brought it from Wagon Mound to Las Cruces, NM. We subsequently disassembled it and had a new certified boiler made. Our "Minnie" probably has the newest boiler on earth. Took the boiler maker 8 years and 3 months to finish it. JD is very interesting in many ways. He is a pilot and has a few engines he built from scratch among which is a radial engine that swings a 4 foot prop. I could go on and on. Very nice article. Floyde Adams




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