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Oliver History

Oliver Tractors trace their routes back to Hart-Parr and Oliver.

Hart-Parr

Charles Walter Hart and Charles H. Parr met at the University of Wisconsin, and while working on their Special Honours Thesis, presented in 1896, created their first engine.

After graduation, the Hart-Parr Company was organized on June 12, 1901 at Charles City, Iowa, and Hart-Parr Number 1 was completed in 1902.  The "traction engine" was not an immediate success, but in 1906 W.H. Williams, Sales Manager, coined the term "tractor", and from then on Hart-Parr was known as the "Founders of the Tractor Industry".

Oliver Chilled Plow Company

James Oliver was born in Scotland on August 28, 1823, and in 1834, at age eleven, he immigrated to Garden Castle, New York with his family.  The family moved west to Indiana, but his schooling ended in 1837 with the death of his father.  He went to work for the owner of a pole-boat, but not liking the rowdy life of a river man, he quit to learn the iron molding trade.

James married in 1844 and worked at molding, coopering, and farming.  In 1855, while in South Bend, Indiana on business, Oliver met a man who wanted to sell a quarter interest in his foundry for the inventory value ($88.96).  Oliver happened to have $100 in his pocket at the time, and thus he became an owner in the cast iron plow business.

As a farmer, James knew that none of the cast iron plows he had used were satisfactory.  James made the chilled plow a practical success; it's very hard outer skin was able to scour in heavy soils.

On July 22, 1868 the South Bend Iron Works was incorporated to manufacture the Oliver Chilled Plow, and in 1870 the famous Oliver logo was designed.

James Oliver died in 1908 at the age of eighty-five, and Joseph D. Oliver became head of the company.  Joseph had tremendous organization and marketing skills, and the company continued to thrive and expand, and it was Joseph who led the company into the amalgamation with Hart-Parr and others in 1929, to form the Oliver Farm Equipment Company.

Oliver Corporation

By 1929 the Hart-Parr Tractor Company, the American Seeding Machine Company, and the Nichols and Shepard Company were producing machinery that was becoming obsolete, and they lacked the capital and expertise to continue further progress.  So, on April 1, 1929, these three companies merged with the Oliver Chilled Plow Company to form the Oliver Farm Equipment Corporation.  This full line manufacturer shortened its name a few years later to Oliver Corporation.

The Oliver Corporation continued to innovate, with diesel engines and, in the 1948 to 1954 period, a new series of Fleetline models.

On November 1, 1960 White Motor Corporation of Cleveland, Ohio, a truck manufacturer, acquired Oliver Corporation as a wholly-owned subsidiary.  White also acquired Cockshutt Farm Equipment of Canada in February, 1962, and it was made a subsidiary of Oliver Corporation.

(In 1928 Cockshutt Canada had marketed tractors made by Hart-Parr, and from 1934 through the late 1940's had marketed tractors made by Oliver, only changing the paint colour red, and changing the name tags to Cockshutt).

In 1969 White Motor Corporation formed White Farm Equipment Company, and gradually began transitioning to the White name.  The Oliver 2255, also known as the White 2255, was the last purely "Oliver" tractor.  With the introduction of the White 4-150 Field Boss in 1974, the White name was used exclusively; the Oliver name was no more.  In 1985 the White Farm Equipment Company was placed in involuntary bankruptcy.  Today the patents are the property of Agco-Allis.

 

 

Further detailed information and sources:

Pictures of the first and last Oliver made

Oliver Information.com

Oliver Chilled Plow History

White Farm Equipment Company bankruptcy  in 1985

White Farm Equipment Company site

 

 

 

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