Russ' Vintage Iron

Descendant of Thieman Harvester Co. Founders Reveals More History on Thieman Tractor

Russ Quinn
By  Russ Quinn , DTN Staff Reporter
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This is a rare Thieman tractor owned by James Thieman of Bakersville, North Carolina, a descendant of the founders of Thieman Harvester Co. (Photo courtesy of James Thieman)

OMAHA (DTN) -- Last month I wrote about the Thieman Harvester Co. The little-known Albert City, Iowa, company manufactured tractors from the mid-1930s to the beginning of World War II. With materials such as steel being rationed, the company stopped manufacturing tractors once the U.S. joined the war.

Shortly after that column was published, I received a couple of different emails about the subject of Thieman tractors. One email was from a descendant of the brothers who started the company.

Here is what he told me about the company that bears his name:

"Yes, I'm related. My grandfather was the son of one of the brothers, but he passed before I was born, so my knowledge is a bit limited. I went to Albert City as a kid when I still had relatives there.

"There is a little history museum in Albert City, and it had a decent amount of information when I went to visit.

"I bought my tractor from a man named Harold Boquist who had restored it. He had 11 Thieman Harvesters at the time, plus one he was still restoring.

"He was not related to the family but liked them as they were all a bit different (aside from a few completed tractors built at the factory). He was in his 80s, though, and was selling his collection as he was moving off the farm and into town at the time.

"I understand that many of their patents were bought by John Deere. Deere has a historian on staff who I spoke to once; he wasn't familiar with the tractor. However, he did say the company name came up in their files.

"The company made all kinds of stuff. The weight in the tractor may not have been distributed in the best manner. I'm told the one I have killed a guy as they could pop a wheelie and flip over.

"One has a Model A engine -- a large reason many aren't around. The family wasn't the only one to produce kit-style tractors at the time, and car guys eventually found they could buy kit tractors fairly cheap, pull the engines for their car restoration projects and scrap the rest."

James Thieman

Bakersville, North Carolina


Thanks to James for the interesting stories of his family's tractors. I can honestly say I have never talked to anyone before whose family manufactured tractors. What an interesting part of agricultural history.

The fact that car enthusiasts used the Thieman tractor kits for Model A engines is also a fascinating bit of information.

This was obviously a good option for the car guys but bad news for tractor collectors, as these tractor kits were scrapped just for the engines. That helps to explain why there are not many Thieman tractors today.


I also received this email:

"I read your article on Thieman tractors. I am sending you this link to the Albert City Threshermen show coming up soon in August.

"There are usually some Thieman tractors there. You could probably contact the show personnel for more information on them or they may be able to put you in contact with the owners of those tractors.

"I have seen some also at the Midwest Old Threshers Show Labor Day weekend in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa."

Clint Sandburg

Atkins, Iowa…


Thanks to Clint for the email and the link to the show in Albert City. Being just a state to the west, I have heard about the many good antique tractor shows in Iowa, including the Albert City show.

I knew a guy who was from that general area originally and later moved to the Omaha area. He always talked about the Albert City show there and how good it was.

If you have information about Thieman tractors, please feel free to contact me. Your story might appear in a future column.

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