The Beginning of an Era
There has been an amazing amount of growth and change since DVC's beginning in 1991, but the magic of old iron is the same today as it was years ago. We have club members from all walks of life who are pulled together like a magnet to iron. We have experienced the hunt, the rare find, the satisfaction of reshaping a rust pile into a treasure, the sharing of parts and nuggets of restoration wisdom, the stories, and the fellowship that are all part of the value of being a DVC member.
Our first organizational meeting and tour was on February 11, 1991 held at the John Deere Parts Distribution Center in Milan. But it all began in December 1990 when Larry Goodwin, Neil West, and Gerry Frimml joined Tom Hitzhusen around his kitchen table to discuss the possibility of starting an antique tractor club. Larry volunteered to mail an interest survey to as many prospective members as we could identify, and invite them to attend the organizing meeting in February. There was concern whether we could find enough people to share our interest. Tom?s wife was thinking, ?How many rust seeking nuts can there be in this area??. We reserved a small conference room, brought a coffeepot and a few cookies and hoped we could attract 10-20 folks. Little did we know! 76 showed up at the meeting. We quickly ran out of coffee, cookies, and chairs. People were standing in all corners of the room and in the hallway. We had our answer. Tom excitedly told his wife after the meeting, ?There are at least 75 other nuts around here!?.
The first meeting of the Board of Directors was held at the Machine Shed on March 3, 1991. The original Directors included Larry Goodwin, Neil West, Gerry Frimml, Tom Hitzhusen, Steve Jarnecke, Corky Groth, C J Lehnhardt, George Carpenter, Bob DeBaillie, Larry Anderson, and Dick Claussen. Larry Goodwin served as the first president. The second meeting of the membership was held on March 18, 1991 at the Deere headquarters, with Les Stegh (Archivist at Deere) presenting the program. 100 attended. In June of that year we held a charter meeting at The Deck in Geneseo. With Jack Cherry and Dave Trumbar attending, we affiliated with the world wide Two-Cylinder Club. Two years later we severed our ties with the Two-Cylinder organization.
Fatherland Deere Collectors was the initial temporary name. Meanwhile a contest to select a name was announced for which the winner would receive a free membership. Bob DeBaillie is credited with coining the name, Deere Valley Collectors. It was subsequently changed to Deer Valley Collectors at the request of Deere & Co. The flywheel logo resulted from an idea by Paul Hilger and creative artwork by Don Huber. Mike Williams built the original mule or mascot trailer. By August 1991 there were 139 paid members and DVC was here to stay.
Submitted by Tom Hitzhusen