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Rare Pair is at Home on the Range

Author Photo
By Farm Collector Staff

Neil Hartwig with his freshly restored Indiana tractor and his friend, J.D. Baughn (left).

Incredibly, a pair of rare tractors – including one that’s a family tractor – has ended up in the same collection in southeast Kansas. The tractors were built between 1917 and 1919 by Indiana Silo & Tractor Co. (formerly known as Star Tractor Co.), Anderson, Indiana.

The first of the two tractors – serial no. 727 – was shipped by the manufacturer to a dealership in Kansas City, Missouri. The Indiana 5-10 was sold as the All ’Round.

Frederic Hartwig, Humboldt, Kansas, bought the serial no. 727 tractor from the dealership for $900 (roughly $13,540 today). At the same time, he purchased a 16-inch, 1-bottom Oliver plow for $125.

Designed to replace horse power on the farm, the Indiana was equipped with a LeRoi vertical L-head engine and an electrical system produced by Atwater-Kent. On the road, it travelled at a top speed of 4mph; it was capable of plowing about 4 acres in a 10-hour day. Early on, the Hartwig tractor provided belt power for use with a buzz saw.

Performance test no. 62 was successfully conducted on the Indiana 5-10 at the University of Nebraska Sept. 13-17, 1920. The model was produced from 1919 to 1924. The 4-cylinder tractor had a bore and stroke of 3.125-by-4.5 inches.

Retired from farming – but then, disaster

Later in the 1920s, Frederic Hartwig’s brother Charlie purchased the tractor and plow to use in plowing fields on the south branch of Owl Creek in Woodson County, Kansas, and to perform other farm work as needed.

Neil with his rare pair of Indiana tractors.

In 1929, under the strain of the Great Depression, Charlie Hartwig and his family moved to town, where he secured work. The Indiana and the Oliver plow were unused for some time. Later, as conditions improved, Charlie returned to farming. But by the late 1930s, the tractor’s age was showing. Because its drive chains showed wear and routinely slipped off the sprocket, the tractor was relegated to powering a sawing operation. At some point, it was retired from use and stored in a shed.

After Charlie’s death in 1975, his son, Neil, inherited the Indiana and the Oliver plow – and the tractor’s original manual, which included a priced parts list. The manual showed a full line of 16 implements for the Indiana. The tractor and plow remained in storage until 2010 or 2011, when the building caught fire. All of the tractor’s combustible parts – wiring, distributor, plastic, copper radiator and tubing – were destroyed.

Finding another Indiana

Later, Neil had the tractor restored by Lee Sackett in Minnesota. Meanwhile, in September 2010, Neil attended an auction in Falun, Wisconsin. An Indiana tractor was listed on the sale bill. “I have to have that tractor,” Neil said. When he returned home, he was the proud owner of a second Indiana (serial no. 2180) and another Oliver plow. The second Indiana has also been restored by Lee Sackett. Today, Neil enjoys displaying the rare pair at tractor shows. FC


For more information: Neil R. Hartwig, 920 Osage, Humboldt, KS 66748; phone: (620) 473-2713.

Farm Collector Magazine

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