A Family of Graham-Bradley Tractor Collectors

The original Graham-Bradley tractor made such a good impression on Edward B. Hadley that three generations of Hadley men have become tractor collectors.


| December 2002



Graham-Bradley tractor collectors - Hadley family collection

The Hadley family's Graham-Bradley tractor collection includes four restored units.

Photo: Farm Collector Magazine Staff

Edward Rodney Hadley of Blue Grass, Iowa, vividly remembers the first time he rode on a Graham-Bradley tractor — even though it was a very long time ago. His father, Edward B. Hadley, had just purchased a new one, and Edward Rodney (called 'Ed' now, but 'Rodney' as a youth) was permitted to ride on the fender while his father drove the tractor home.

They lived on a farm at Atalissa, Iowa, and the tractor was bought at the Sears, Roebuck & Co. farm store in Iowa City, a distance of some 20 miles. The year was 1937, and Ed was only 10 years old. 'That was before speed was like it is now,' he says today, 'and at the time, you could still buy harness at the Sears store.'

The tractor, which has a tricycle front, provided the Hadleys with admirable service; in return it received excellent care, and in effect turned three generations of Hadley men into Graham-Bradley tractor collectors. Today, the '37 is owned by Ed's son Larry, and the two of them, along with another son, Leland, own several other Graham-Bradley tractors as well.

Ed says the family's long association with this brand began with his father and that's the main reason they collect these tractors today. It doesn't hurt that the Graham-Bradleys are 'rare and different,' too, he adds.

Leland, alone, is a reluctant old-iron fan, preferring, he says, to fish or play golf rather than mess with old tractors. When he's not working at his own full-time job, he helps his brother on the farm and sometimes, when Larry and their Dad are consumed with a vintage tractor project, he pinch-hits for them with some of their chores.

Ed says when his dad started looking to buy his first tractor, 'he wasn't too fond of tractors, yet.' Edward B. was a skilled horseman who favored wild sorrels from the range, which he and his son would gentle and break for harness work.