The Story Behind the Heirlooms

Rooted in tragedy, discover Ron Grosjean’s incredible collection as it takes on a life of its own to celebrate antique equipment.

This 1939 Oliver 70 Hi-Crop experimental tractor was developed for Rust Cotton Picker Co., Memphis, Tenn.

The start of Ron Grosjean’s collection resulted from the tragic loss of his father in a farm accident. “I was 18 years old, just out of high school, when I signed on with the Air Force Reserves,” Ron recalls. “One week before, a Massey Ferguson tractor rolled onto my dad, resulting in his death.”

A neighbor encouraged the youth to apply for a hardship deferment so he could help his mom keep the farm operating. He applied, but by the time the deferment was approved, his mother had found a buyer for the farm. “Before everything was sold off, mom let me have two farm wagons,” Ron says. “She said I could have anything that would fit in the wagons. I proceeded to fill them with hand tools and mementoes that Dad and Granddad had used around the farm.” Those items were the start of his collection.

Ron Grosjean with part of his collection of scale model replicas.  

As with most kids growing up on a farm, Ron used toy tractors and equipment in a sandbox farming operation. “We had a big sandbox with lots of crops to farm as kids. Naturally, my farm interest resulted in Christmas and birthday gifts consisting of farm toys,” he says. “Those were exciting times as gifts came from both my parents and grandparents.” Oliver toys weren’t nearly as popular, so most of the early toys were John Deere and Farmall. Many eventually became part of Ron’s collection.

When Ron started farming as a young man, a friend who worked as a salesman for the local Oliver dealer suggest he buy a pre-owned Oliver Model 880 diesel. “I took his recommendation and bought that 1959 Oliver tractor,” Ron says. “That purchase resulted in a great tractor. Consequently, I wanted more Oliver tractors. I made that first Oliver purchase in 1971. I have farmed continuously with Olivers for nearly 50 years now.”


Farm Collector April 16Farm Collector is a monthly magazine focusing on antique tractors and all kinds of antique farm equipment. If it's old and from the farm, we're interested in it!

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