Sometimes you see something that shouts out story, story, story and at this year’s show in Salem, Illinois that featured lawn and garden tractors it was the George Company tractors. I had never seen this brand of tractor and when I heard the story, I was transfixed, especially because I don’t live that far from Sullivan, Illinois where the tractors were built. The tractor production began as a way to keep members of the Church of Jesus Christ employed during World War II. As conscientious objectors holding jobs was hard to do during this time period when everyone was signing up for service.
The church started up the lawn and garden division under the umbrella of Community Industries, Ltd. They first made a tractor called the Du-It which Gary Davis had on display at the show. The church started a candy and ladies fashion division as well to keep the female members employed while the men folk worked in the lawn and garden division. The George Garden Tool section took off with the walking mowers as well as the snow blower that became very popular.
When they expanded too far the company had to be sold and went through a number of owners. When the last owner MTD was ready to pull the plug, the church members bought the buildings back and started up Agri-Fab that makes lawn and garden attachments. More in depth coverage of the company will be coming in an issue of the Lawn and Garden Collector Magazine and a different take will be in Farm World.The Antique Power Days offered interesting history of life in central Illinois