Fairbanks-Morse’s Fair-Mor Tractor

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This postcard, dated Aug. 27, 1915, shows Ben Prestegaard on the platform of a Fairbanks-Morse tractor. He and his wife, my aunt Inez, operated a farm near Lee, Illinois.

A somewhat obscure name for this tractor was Fair-Mor. Look at that rich prairie soil! The photo is too good for a box camera snapshot. It may have been some kind of dealer promotional item.

As far as I know, Fairbanks-Morse only made kerosene tractors. I was never fortunate enough to see one at a show. Since they were gone by the end of World War I, not too many were built.

We usually think of Fairbanks-Morse as making heavy-duty scales, stationary internal combustion engines and windmills. However, they got into perse products after World War II, such as an innovative diesel electric locomotive.

The bull and the knothole

Looking back at my “growing up” summers that I spent on my grandfather’s farm, it seems there was always ample opportunity for mischief – sometimes dangerous mischief.

On one occasion, three of my city cousins and their parents dropped by the farm for a visit. I was also a city kid, but never considered myself to be one. As for these three brothers, it was probably their first visit to an operating farm. I took it upon myself to show them around, proud of my knowledge of the farm’s inner workings.

While exploring the barn, we came across a knothole in the floor of an empty haymow. Beneath the knothole was a double stall occupied by the farm’s Holstein bull. Someone (I don’t think it was me) got the idea to drop pebbles through the knothole onto the bull’s back.

While these pebbles would have hardly phased the farm’s draft horses, the bull became infuriated. He snorted and stamped his feet as each pebble rolled off his back. Suddenly there was a frightening crash that rattled the entire barn. We ran outside and were greeted with an awesome sight. The bull had broken his tether and attempted to jump out a window.

His front quarters were hanging out of the window frame with the broken sash around his neck. I don’t know how my grandfather and two uncles managed to extract that 2,000-pound bull from the window frame, but it could not have been easy.

We four boys were too frightened to confess that we had provoked the bull into jumping out the window. However, I think everyone else suspected that we were the provocateurs.

Clyde Eide, Bryan, TX


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