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Farmall H is perfect fit for Buske farm

My Favorite Tractor: This tractor has been in the family since 1940.

Harlen Persinger

November 13, 2019

2 Min Read
Harvey Buske sits in the seat of the model Farmall H his father bought in 1940
BOUGHT NEW: In 1940, Harvey Buske’s dad bought this Farmall H new with an 8-foot cultivator, 8-foot disk and 2-foot, 14-inch IH Little Genius plow from Reul Brothers Equipment in Helenville, Wis.Harlen Persinger

Spireside Farms, named after the local Lutheran church, originated in 1900 when Albert Buske bought 100 acres near Sullivan, Wis., which later passed to his son Edwin.

“In 1940, my dad bought a new model Farmall H, along with an 8-foot cultivator, 8-foot disk and 2-foot, 14-inch IH Little Genius plow from Reul Brothers Equipment in Helenville, Wis., for $12,000,” says Edwin’s son Harvey, who took over the operation in 1959. “The H was the first tractor within a 5-mile radius with an electric starter, lights and rubber tires. I used it to plow, cultivate, disk, rake and bale hay with an International 45, haul grain wagons, and haul manure.”

Basic features include a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder, liquid-cooled gasoline engine; positive ground electrical system; dry disk clutch; narrow front end; PTO; swinging drawbar; 25-hp rating; belt pulley; side fenders; five forward gears and one reverse gear; 17.5-gallon-capacity fuel tank; a weight of 3,875 pounds; and two lights in the front and one in the rear.

The Farmall H was a row crop replica of the McCormick Deering W4. It was produced by International Harvester under the Farmall brand from 1939 to 1954 in Rock Island, Ill. The H was the most widely produced International Harvester “letter size,” with 391,227 units produced over the 14-year run.

The Buske tractor has been repainted three times and has received two new sets of tires, along with a cushion seat. It was overhauled once, mainly to replace the rings and pistons. Other red models on the farm include a 300, 460, 686 and 966.

“After my wife, Jean, and I were married, we used some of our wedding money to purchase a new 7-foot New Idea sickle mower and two-row John Deere planter,” Harvey says. “She always raked hay with the H and drove on the baler. Dad always made sure it was greased and had an oil change once during the summer.

“The Farmall H is my favorite because it was the first tractor on the farm, always started in the winter, was easy to get on and off, offered a comfortable ride, and fits the heritage of this place since it has been here and is still running after 80 years.”

Persinger writes from Milwaukee, Wis. To have your favorite tractor featured, email or send a photo of yourself with your tractor, along with a 300-word write-up about the tractor, to: [email protected] or Wisconsin Agriculturist, P.O. Box 236, Brandon, WI 53919.

About the Author(s)

Harlen Persinger

Harlen Persinger is a photojournalist who lives in Milwaukee. Since 2004, he has freelanced for regional and national farm publications such as Wisconsin Agriculturist and Farm Industry News, plus many others.

Persinger grew up on a farm in Grundy County, Iowa. He received a degree in ag journalism from Iowa State University in 1972. He has traveled to more than 40 countries and has been a member of the American Agricultural Editors’ Association (now Agricultural Communicators Network) since 1976. In 2016, he was the first photojournalist/freelancer to receive the organization's Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2017, Persinger began providing college scholarships to 4-H’ers from his home county who have an interest in photography/journalism and agriculture. He was inducted into the Iowa 4-H Hall of Fame in 2023.

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