One Man Auto Plow Tractor
by Lynne Belluscio
I never know what I’ll find on e-bay. It’s usually fun. Sometimes frustrating, and often surprising. I usually search “LeRoy New York.” A couple of weeks ago, I saw a letterhead from John A. McPherson and A.H. Olmsted of LeRoy, agents for the Hackney One Man Auto Plow Tractor. I had never seen such a machine, so I Googled it and discovered that it was manufactured in Minneapolis. The Hackney brothers had made money in North Dakota buying and selling railroad land. They soon went into business making agricultural equipment in St. Paul, Minnesota.
By 1909, the Hackney Company was manufacturing the One Man Plow. The demand for the plow was primarily in the Dakotas and Minnesota, but apparently they had agents – like McPherson and Olmsted – selling the Hackney Plow in many different states. It’s unclear whether McPherson and Olmsted actually had one of these machines in LeRoy.
It would have caught any farmer’s attention. Unlike other plows at that time, which were usually painted in drab colors, the Hackney Plow was bright red with yellow striping and wheels. The Hackney Plow had seats facing each other, so it could be operated in either the forward or backward direction. It was powered by a 40 hp engine. It could be equipped with either three or four plow blades and was maneuverable into the corners of fields near fences.
Automobiles and tractors at that time, were started by a crank, but the Hackney had a wheel on the front which was used to turn the motor. (If you look closely, you can see the wheel just in front of the large wheel.) The company was sold to the Standard Motor Company of Mason City, Iowa, but Standard went bankrupt and the Hackney brothers took over the company again.
There were some problems with the machine, and sales declined. Never the less, in 1917, Hackney advertised that it had five different models of the One Man Plow. In 1918, the factory was destroyed by fire, and it appears that the One Man Plow was not manufactured after that.
The letter was written to Markam & Puffer in Avon 0n May 11, 1914: “Gentlemen: When I wrote you before, I thought Mr. A.H. Olmsted would be done with Grand Jury work, but not yet, so he can’t go to see you so I wrote I would. Grippe prevents my going, but Please phone me at my expense if you would like a plow and want one as soon as possible. Yours Truly, John W. McPherson” READ MORE
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