John Deere History

Reader Contribution by Sam Moore
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For all you green and yellow worshippers out there, here is some John Deere trivia to tuck away in the old memory bank. You never know when the opportunity will arise to astonish your friends and neighbors with your knowledge of all twelve of the Deere & Company factories in operation in 1940.

1. JOHN DEERE PLOW WORKS – Moline, Illinois
The John Deere Plow Works is the world’s largest plow factory. Here, steel moldboard and disk plows of all kinds, cultivators, spike-tooth harrows, listers, disk tillers, and a wide variety of integral equipment for John Deere General Purpose Tractors are manufactured.

2. DEERE and MANSUR WORKS – Moline, Illinois
The Deere and Mansur factory was established in 1877. Today, it is the world’s largest planter factory. This modern factory manufactures corn planters, cotton planters, safety fertilizer attachments for planters, disk harrows, endgate seeders, disk cultivators, and stalk cutters.

3. KILLEFER MANUFACTURING CORP. – Los Angeles, California
The Killefer Manufacturing Corp., established in 1890, is a pioneer builder of deep-tillage implements. Deep-tillage tools of all kinds, off-set, cover-crop, and field disk harrows, mole drainage machines, and road maintenance equipment are produced in this modern factory.

4. JOHN DEERE HARVESTER WORKS – East Moline, Illinois
The John Deere Harvester plant, occupying forty-three acres of floor space, produces all types of harvesting machinery. Grain binders, rice binders, corn binders, corn pickers, combines, threshers, mowers, self-dump rakes, field ensilage cutters, and mower knife grinders are made here.

5. JOHN DEERE SPREADER WORKS – East Moline, Illinois
The John Deere Spreader Works is an outgrowth of the Marseilles and the Kemp & Burpee Manufacturing Companies, pioneer builders of corn shellers and manure spreaders respectively. This factory produces manure spreaders, corn shellers, grain elevators, hammer mills, tractor tire pumps, and cotton harvesters.

6. JOHN DEERE WAGON WORKS – Moline, Illinois
The John Deere Wagon Works is the world’s largest wagon factory. Farm, mountain, and one-horse wagons; trucks, rubber-tired trailers, and teaming gears are made here. The Model “L” tractor, beet and bean tools, rotary hoes, stalk cutters, rod weeders, and fertilizer distributors are produced at this plant.

This plant, an outgrowth of the Waterloo Gasoline Traction Engine Company, established in 1893, is the largest single tractor factory in the world. Standard tread, adjustable tread, and orchard tractors are produced here. John Deere portable and stationary engines are manufactured in this plant.

8. JOHN DEERE PLOW CO., LTD. – Welland, Ont., Canada
This modern factory produces disk tillers and seeding equipment, plows, disk harrows, grain drills, grain binders, spring-tooth and spike-tooth harrows for the Canadian trade.

9. SYRACUSE CHILLED PLOW CO., INC. – Syracuse, New York
This company, organized in 1876, produces a full line of chilled plows, including walking plows, sulky plows, grading and hillside plows. Spring-tooth and quack-grass harrows, potato machinery, and grape and berry hoes are also produced in this plant.

10. UNION MALLEABLE IRON COMPANY – East Moline, Illinois
This plant produces castings for all of the John Deere factories. It specializes in the production of malleable iron castings, clevises, specialty castings, and Heald’s riveted and detachable chains.

11. VAN BRUNT MANUFACTURING CO. – Horicon, Wisconsin
This factory, established by the Van Brunt brothers in 1860, produces lime and fertilizer distributors, stiff- and spring-tooth field and orchard cultivators, as well as the famous John Deere-Van Brunt line of grain drills and seeders.

The Dain Manufacturing Company, established in 1881, produces side-delivery rakes, sweep rakes, hay loaders, hay stackers, hay presses, handy farm mixers, and pump jacks.

Twelve modern factories – each a specialist in the machines it produces – manufacture John Deere equipment. Each factory has its own experimental department; each factory is manned by a group of specialized craftsmen; each factory is organized and equipped for the production of a specialized line of farm implements. Yet, individualistic as they are, all twelve John Deere factories are governed by the same manufacturing policy – namely, all implements must be precision manufactured from high-quality materials and thoroughly tested and inspected both during and after manufacture.

Working as a member of a team, each John Deere factory enjoys the engineering experience and purchasing power of twelve factories. Working individually, each John Deere factory enjoys the manufacturing efficiency and the engineering leadership that comes only from intense specialization of both men and machines in the production of a few types of implements.

The above is taken from General Catalog No. 200, put out by the John Deere Plow Co., of Columbus, Ohio, in about 1940.

– Sam Moore

The original Deere Plow Works at Moline, Illinois. (From the John Deere General Catalog No. 6, published in 1928 by the John Deere Plow Company of Indianapolis, Indiana. Catalog in the author’s collection.)

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