Iowa’s rural heritage is often symbolized by its implements. As the technology of farm machinery has evolved, many an old planter or haw and gee has been left to rust behind the barn, embraced by weeds and weathered into a picturesque state.
Michael Ingram of Perry has a taste for these antique and near-antique implements and has amassed a collection that adds character to his yard and garden. His latest acquisition, however, dwarfs the rest.
Ingram recently bought a flare box seeder wagon at auction in Boone and placed the piece in his front yard at 1805 Lucinda St. in Perry.
“It’s from the ’40s,” he said of the wagon. “It was originally horse drawn and later made to pull behind a tractor. The mechanical seeder on the back would broadcast the seed as the farmer drove along.”
Ingram said he coated the wagon with a sealant to protect it from the elements but has not otherwise restored it.
“Those spokes took a lot of work,” he said. “There’s 52 of them, and we sealed every one.” He said he was assisted by his son, Dustin Durham of Perry.
Ingram’s great-uncles, Michael and Timothy Downey, bachelor brothers from County Cork in Ireland, homesteaded in Lincoln Township in the mid-1870s, and their sister’s son, M. A. Downey, farmed the 520 acres until the 1970s, when the land passed to his son, C. F. “Bud” Downey.
“Some of these tools were still being used when I was a kid,” Ingram said, turning over one and then another of the hand tools in his collection. “Picking corn was a lot of work back then.”
Ingram also recalled more recent days, when as a 16-year-old he played fast-pitch softball in and around Dallas Center with his Uncle Donald Nissly and Don’s brother Ray Nissly.
“Ray pitched, and Don caught,” Ingram said. “They were a powerful combination, and you can’t imagine how excited I was when they asked me to play third base for them back, oh, it must have been about 1958.”
Ingram and his younger brother, Patrick Ingram, went on to become noted local athletes in their own right in the 1960s.