An Estate Auction for Don Ward of Chula, MO, unfolds on March 17th. Mr. Ward was a lifetime ag teacher/farmer and considered to be the premier go-to guy for any 2-cylinder John Deere issues both in the U.S.A. and abroad. Mr. Ward is also well known throughout North Missouri for tractor pulling. One of his tractors was even featured on a John Deere calendar. Look through this offering of farm equipment at auction, presented by Sewell Auction Service of Chillicothe, by clicking on this particular auction listed on ShoMeMoreAuctions for March 17.
Auctioneer Lonnie Sewell advises collectors to arrive early and stroll around the grassy fields of the Don Ward farm where Sewell Auction Service has arranged Mr. Ward’s collection of a dozen or so vintage tractors, along with combines, rakes, mowers, and other pieces of farm equipment, dating back to the 1930s. The Don Ward Estate Auction will be held on March 17 at Chula. Mr. Ward passed away in 2009.
“Mr. Ward’s collection isn’t as large as some,” says Lonnie. “It’s the man that makes this collection great.”
Mr. Ward was a lifetime agriculture teacher, farmer, and tractor pull enthusiast. He was considered to be the premier go-to guy for any two-cylinder John Deere mechanical issues in the U.S.A. and abroad. “One day I was out at his place and he got a call on his cell phone,” recalls Lonnie. “He proceeded to tell the caller step by step what he needed to do to fix his tractor. Then he told him if he was ever in the United States to look him up. I asked him where the caller was from. Don said he was from Spain. That’s how far-reaching Mr. Ward’s reputation was.”
Mr. Ward’s dozen or so antique tractors, including a couple his father bought new, is considered modest as collections go. Novice collectors might have only two or three, but die hard collectors usually have 20-25 or more. Still, Lonnie says he expects a large crowd with people willing to come great distances. One particular tractor will be of interest to them — it is the 820 John Deere (8206109) diesel, built in the 1950s.
“It should fetch the highest price,” Lonnie says. “It’s probably the most famous 820 there is. It was featured on the John Deere calendar in June and it’s on the John Deere clock at six o’clock.”
The 820 was overhauled by Mr. Ward and painted by Justin Springer from nearby Meadville. “When you have a tractor reconditioned by a top restorer and a top finisher, you have a top tractor,” says Lonnie. “That’s what this 820 is.”
The rarest piece of equipment at the auction is a John Deere No.12A pull-type combine, built in the 1940s. “It’s had two owners and combined around 100 acres in its lifetime,” says Lonnie. “It still has the engine on it, which is really rare.”
Antique tractor auctions generally attract a narrower network of buyers than other auctions, like antique cars or furniture. “Usually the tractor collector has an agriculture background,” says Lonnie. “He is farming now, or he was born and raised on a farm and moved to town, or he is retired and wants to have a tractor.”
Lonnie grew up on a farm and still farms. He farmed with John Deere and Allis Chalmers. He has his own small collection of about six antique tractors. But with this particular auction his sense of nostalgia is as much for Mr. Ward, whom he knew most of his life, as for his tractors.
Mr. Ward was an educator for 33 years, including six years as a vocational agriculture teacher and 23 years teaching farm mechanics. He retired from teaching in 1991. He and his wife Eleanor had two sons, Dale and Craig. Don passed away in 2009 and Eleanor passed away in 2017. They had lived on the family farm that Don’s grandfather homesteaded in 1856. “Mr. Ward was born on the property where we’re having the auction,” Lonnie says. “He passed away 100 feet from where he was born.”
The event is generating attention well in advance of the sale, not so much due to the number of tractors, but to their quality. “Especially speaking for two of the tractors, they’re probably the tops of any I’ve ever sold, and this is our 40th anniversary selling.”
Lonnie says there are other things about the auction that make it unique: “For example, the front weights are a three-piece weight system on a two-cylinder John Deere. Just the weights bring a thousand dollars or better, they are so rare. This auction has three full sets. To find one full set is pretty unique. I’ve never seen anybody have three before.”
The auction is located at 1663 Liv 247, Chula. Follow the signs. “Come and enjoy the day,” says Lonnie. “Mr. Ward always had time to sit down and visit with someone about two-cylinder John Deere tractors.”