Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Tractors revolutionized farming

Sent to The Frederick Leader and The Frederick Press
March 22, 2011
Avery Catalogue cover, 1919

 
Tractors provided productivity for farmers
 
When Tillman County was opened for settlement in the early years of the 20th century, people came from all over the nation to secure land.
The western part of what would later be Tillman County was opened by land lottery in August 1901. The Big Pasture, the eastern part of the county, was opened by sealed bid in December 1906.
Turning soil of the rich prairies must have been a monumental task because all farming in those early years was done with horses and mules. It was slow, back-breaking labor.
Within the first decade of the area’s settlement, though, gasoline tractors became available. Farmers who could afford to buy a tractor could ease their workload enormously. In all area towns there were established businesses that added tractors to their sales merchandise.
In 1916, Frederick’s Carr and Pritchard Hardware proclaimed it the “Age of the Gasoline Tractor”. Their store sold Avery tractors.
Avery was one of the earliest tractor companies and at its height prior to 1920 it was the largest tractor company in the world. The company manufactured eight different tractors in addition to motor cultivators, plows, and farm trucks.
A 1916 Frederick Leader promotional piece for the hardware store read as follows:
“This is truly the age of the gasoline tractor in Oklahoma, and Carr and Pritchard are proud of the fact that during the many years they have been in business they have established a reputation for choosing nothing but the best line of goods on the market. They openly state to the farmers, and several years of good judgment goes behind the statement, that the logical tractor to buy is the Avery.
“This tractor eliminates the heavy expense of buying horses for animal power. It eliminates the heavy expense of feeding and caring for this animal power. It lessens the expense of hired help. It will help to raise larger crops. It will save hard work and will make money by doing work not possible with horses. Here are a few of the things possible with the Avery tractor: breaking stubble, plowing, disc plowing, sod plowing, cornstalk plowing, listing, orchard cultivation, cutting stalks, disc harrowing, spike tooth harrowing, drilling and harvesting and, in fact, any line of farm work where the animal power has been used before.
“Space will not permit of a detailed description of this tractor except to say that Carr and Pritchard recommend it and their recommendation is good and they can get a tractor in size from 5-10 to 40-80. Let them tell you why the Avery is the only logical tractor on the market. Let them demonstrate it to you.”
In the early 1920s more tractor and farm implement companies entered the market, Avery sales suffered. Besides Avery, companies such as Ford, International Harvester, Oliver, Holt (later Caterpillar), and Fitch claimed major shares of the tractor and farm implement business.
The Avery company filed bankruptcy in 1923 but was reorganized a few months later. When farm prices dropped in 1931 during the Great Depression, the Avery Tractor Company went out of business. It was revived briefly when the Depression ended, but went out of business for good when industrial production shifted during World War II.
 
 [Photo illustration by Avery Company [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
 
Joe Wynn is a member of the Tillman County Historical Society Board. He can be contacted by e-mail at jawynn@cableone.net.

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