Out of the wild

| July 2002

Sherwood Hume, an auctioneer from Milton, Ontario, Canada, first heard of an old tractor sitting in a field in northwestern Ontario in 1978. Fourteen years later, he finally made it to the field, and much to his surprise, the old tractor turned out to be a Hume.

Hume Manufacturing Co. was established in 1913 in Hume, Ill., by Ralph O. Airman and John H. Maughmer. Both men had worked in a warehouse owned by local banker and entrepreneur George Hughes, who funded the tractor enterprise.

Aikman, a mechanic and also the husband of Hughes' only child, a daughter named Sarah, became general manager; Maughmer was an engineer. Stocks were sold, a factory erected and a man named Leigh St. John was named salesman and chief mechanic.

From 1913 to 1916, the firm reportedly built only 35 tractors. Two models, the Hume 20-30 hp and the Hume Jr. 12-18 hp, were on a July 1916 tractor list published in a periodical called The American Thresherman's and Farm Power.

In 1917, Hume Manufacturing was taken over by the Lyons Atlas Co. of Indianapolis. Lyons made the Hume tractor that year, but the next year, they made the same tractor and called it the 'Atlas.' No published report has been found on whether Lyons Atlas made both sizes of Humes or only the larger one, but during the next two years, Lyons Atlas made only 218 tractors. After 1918, no more tractors were made.

Sherwood's first clue about the tractor in the farm field surfaced at a 1978 auction in Keene, Ontario: 'I was doing the sale for Dave Garhutt and Everett Mc Farlane,' Sherwood recalls, 'and Dave gave me a letter he had from John Lamb of Durham, Ontario.' The letter contained the tantalizing report, and Sherwood remembers Dave saying, 'Take this letter and run it down. I will never get way up there.'