Relics from the Farm: A Farm Memorabilia Collection

Case manuals, farm memorabilia and more at heart of Ohio collection

| January 2012

Most collectors can tell you how they amassed their treasures. No doubt every collector would have an interesting anecdote. How each started collecting would be even more intriguing.

Jim Meister, Bucyrus, Ohio, has a fascinating collection of farm memorabilia, literature and manuals. Jim can visit for days, telling how, when and where he found every piece in his collection. He even remembers the bartering that took place until he got it bought.

The “how” of his collection’s start is yet another story. “An Allis-Chalmers dealer was selling out just north of here in New Washington, Ohio,” he says. “Boxes of sales literature and manuals were offered at the sale. I saw a few pieces in those boxes that caught my eye and ended up buying most of them. I kept the things I wanted and sold the rest. I did that a couple more times at other sales and suddenly I had started a collection.”

Jim and his wife, Virginia, live on the family farm just north of Bucyrus in Crawford County. The county was named for Col. William Crawford, who was burned at the stake in 1782 by the Delaware Indians with help from the British. Col. James Kilbourne originally laid out the town of Bucyrus. Seeking a unique name, he joined fragments of the words beautiful and Cyrus (an ancient Persian general) to form Bucyrus.

True to his roots

Collections tend to reflect collectors’ backgrounds and Jim’s is no exception. Like most farm youths, Jim was active in 4-H and Future Farmers of America. His family’s farm enterprises were typical for the time. “We had a small herd of cows that we milked by hand,” he says, “and we kept a few sows and fed some feeder calves. Our farm of 100 acres provided most of the feed for our livestock. We still had Belgian horses into my youth, but switched over to tractors in the early ’40s. I was probably 15 years old when I drove our first tractor, a 1940 Case Model SC. It was a real thrill driving that tractor after plodding behind horses for many years.”

After Jim and Virginia married, they gradually took over the family farm. “We kept the milking herd at 15 head, always milking them by hand, until 1956,” Jim says. “Then we sold those and got more involved in feeder cattle. At the peak we were farming 300 acres while maintaining about 150 steers. We stopped feeding cattle in 1982. We had a Case dealer close by so we farmed with that line of equipment. With our good experience farming with Case, I became attached to that machinery. In 1990 our son, Tim, took over the farm that had expanded to 400 acres.”