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Follow changes in ag through farm ads

Yetter product prototype
STATE-OF-ART PRODUCT: 3-D printing a prototype will soon be a service offered by Yetter Co.
Throwback Thursday: Here’s another look at agricultural ads from the past — this time from the late 1950s.

What agricultural products were advertised in Indiana Prairie Farmer in the late 1950s? How many of these companies are still in business?

Examining ads over time reveals a lot about changes in technology and social perspectives related to agriculture. One week ago, we looked at ads from a 1945 Prairie Farmer that recorded President Franklin Roosevelt’s heritage. Two products advertised in that issue contained asbestos. Sometimes what we don’t know can hurt us. Obviously, those products are long gone from the marketplace.

Even a magazine from the late 1950s tells a story. It was Prairie Farmer, the Indiana edition. Indiana Prairie Farmer didn’t appear as a stand-alone magazine until much later.

1950s advertisements
Here’s a look at products from the Jan. 17, 1959, and May 16, 1959 Prairie Farmer, Indiana edition:

• Yetter Trashboard. “Yetter’s new Trashboard … leaves your fields clean for control of corn borer and increased yields.” This product used an exclusive universal mounting bracket to fit on all moldboard plows.

Yetter Manufacturing Co. Inc., Colchester, Ill., is still very much alive. However, many of its products today center around coulters, row cleaners and other equipment primarily for no-till and strip-till operations. Obviously, this company adapted with time. Visit

For the record, many agronomists today recognize that plowing under corn residue won’t prevent problems with corn borer the next season.

• Wisconsin Engines. One ad marked the 50th anniversary of Wisconsin Engines, which made engines used in farm equipment and in many other industries. “Every Wisconsin Air-Cooled Engine is designed for heavy-duty service under all climatic conditions from low sub-zero to 140 degrees F,” the ad declares.

Wisconsin Engines is still in business today, manufacturing engines in a range from 9 to 72 horsepower, both air-cooled and water-cooled. The company even makes engines that run on natural gas. The company was once located in Milwaukee, Wis., but now has headquarters in Dyer, Tenn. See for yourself at

• Cities Service gasoline. The ad features a farmer on a tractor and this description: “His gasoline is Cities Service Milemaster!” Believe it or not, the farmer has a pipe in his mouth — in a gasoline advertisement!

Cities Service changed its marketing name to Citgo in 1964. It was acquired by Occidental Petroleum in 1982, and later acquired by a Venezuelan oil company through two separate moves.

A PIPE? Bill Field, the Purdue Extension safety specialist, was born too late. Apparently, people thought it was OK to feature a farmer with a pipe in a gasoline ad in 1959.

• Cobey wagon gears. Maybe you’ve run across Cobey running gears at a farm sale featuring older equipment. Cobey Corp., Galion, Ohio, ran a very small ad in 1959 stating: “Want a 6-ton wagon gear at the price of a 5-ton gear?” To learn more, you had to send in a small coupon. One problem though — there was no address! Cobey was also known for building manure spreaders. The company no longer exists in the farm equipment manufacturing business.

• Patz barn cleaner. The ad says this barn cleaner that brings manure out of stanchion-style dairy barns and loads it into a manure spreader was No. 1 in America in strength and flexibility, ease of installation, and years of trouble-free service. The family-owned business was started by a dairy farmer in Pound, Wis., in 1948 as he searched for a better barn cleaner. The company celebrates its 70th anniversary this year, and markets manure handling equipment, total mixed ration feed mixers and other livestock products worldwide. Visit

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