If you have been in and around tractor shows throughout the state of Illinois I am sure you have seen one of Gaus Farms prairie tractors. I sat down with brothers Craig, Eric, Vern and Andrew to hear their story. The Gaus family tradition of collecting started with their Grandpa Vernon and their father Charlie. Their Grandpa liked tractors and cars. While their dad liked to collect fossils, tractors and gas engines. Family vacations were planned around tractor shows and tractor purchases. Their family vacations had to be a blast because the Gaus Brothers are hilarious. One brother is always picking on the other as I soon figured out during the interview!
On March 13, 1999 Eric, Charlie & Katie; the lone sister of the family went to purchase a 10 ton Holt. The very next day their father was killed in a farming accident. Luckily, the gentleman that Charlie had given a downpayment to for the Holt gave the family the option to pay for the crawler or he was willing to give them their money back. The family decided to keep the Holt. After bringing the Holt crawler home the tractors sat for a few years.
The boys decided to get tractors going again and get back in to tractor shows. They decided to work on the 10 Holt, the Rumely 14-28 Oil Pull tractor, get the two Hubers going and once they got started they just kept getting more and more tractors ready. After a few of the tractors were ready to go they decided to start exhibiting in tractor shows again. Charlie always took tractors to the Will County Tractor Show in Illinois. Both their Grandpa and Dad were past Will County show President’s. You can usually find the Gaus’s at Will County, American Thresherman Show in Pickneyville, Half Century of Progress in Rantoul and Central States Threshermen’s Reunion in Pontiac, Illinois. They try to take at least a couple tractors to each show.
They have around thirty tractors and around fourteen crawlers total. At one time they think they had around sixty-five tractors total. Craig’s favorite tractor is the Bate’s 50. He likes it the most because it is unique and was made right up the road in Joliet, IL. Andrew likes the 10 ton Holt the most because he really likes crawlers. Vern likes the Rumely E the most. He loves the way it runs, sounds and drives. Eric loves all of them, but he really likes their Case cross motor tractor. Katie likes their Aultman Taylor, and Debbie; their Mom likes the Rumely 14-28 tractor the most. Katie’s daughter Kinzley loves the Rumely E and you can always find her in and around the shop. Liam; Vern’s grandson loves his scale model Rumely Oil Pull and he can name every make and model in the shop as well. Charlie Gaus really loved all the odd ball makes and models. They mentioned he wanted them to collect the stuff no one else had.
A little bit more family history was talked about as the interview went on. The one Huber tractor was purchased new seven miles from their farm. They are only the second owner of the 20-26 Huber tractor. Eric shared that they have the receipt from when their dad purchased the McCormick Deering 10-20 tractor from the local implement dealer for $75 in 1960. The first tractor their Grandfather farmed with was a Farmall F-20. The Silver King tractor was the auger tractor on the farm up until their dad died. They have a 1919 Aultman Taylor 30-60 tractor that was in the Miller Museum that closed and their dad traded tractors for it. The Aultman Taylor did not run and was stuck. The family was able to get it back up and running. The 30-60 goes to quite a few shows during the summer months now. The E Rumely sat in the bottom of the river for over 40 years in Iowa. The tractor changed hands quite a few times before finally being restored. Talk about a beautiful tractor that will be on the summer show circuit!
The Gaus family has a fall plow day annually. Neighbors, family and tractor friends all come to the farm for a day filled with old iron plowing and a lot of fellowship! All of the Gaus family agreed the best part of being in the tractor collecting trade is the friendships that you make. Charlie Gaus had a vision of building a large museum one day filled with tractors and fossils. He may not have been able to see his museum being built, but one thing is for sure he would be very proud to know that his legacy is living on through his family.