‘Virginia’ retires to easy life

By D. Anthony Botkin –  | The Delaware Gazette

The Delaware County Historical Society’s Meeker Homestead Museum staff took receipt of a restored, bright red, 25-horsepower, 1941 Farmall ‘H’ tractor named Virginia Tuesday that once plowed the fields of the Lehner Family Farm in Radnor.

Farmall Tractor New Home - The Barn at Stratford - Event Venue - Barn Weddings - Delaware Ohio
When “Virginia” was built, it was for hard labor on a farm, but according to The Barn Venue Manager Connie Hoffman, the 1941 Farmall Tractor will have a new purpose at the Meeker Homestead Museum as a photo prop for weddings, pulling hayrides, and hauling things around on the museum property. Hoffman, sitting in the driver seat of the old tractor, receives a driving lesson from Greg Nobis. Nobis and his wife, Suzan, donated “Virginia” Tuesday to the Delaware County Historical Society.

The tractor was purchased from the Lehner family, restored, and donated by Greg Nobis and his wife, Suzan, owners of the Del City Stables, Horse Care and Boarding in Delaware.“Virginia is the name that I gave to the tractor,” Greg Nobis said.Nobis added the tractor was originally owned by the late Charles “Chuck” Lehner. He said that the Lehner family has farmed the land in Radnor for 100 years, starting with Chuck Lehner’s father, Ellis. He said, Shawn Lehner, now better known as the “Pumpkin King of Delaware County,” is the fourth generation to farm the family land.“The tractor plowed fields to plant soybeans, corn and most recently, pumpkins,” he said. “I bought it because I like the Lehners. I bought it from Shawn when his father died.”

Nobis said when he restored the old Farmall, he pretty much left it in its original condition.

“We changed the distributor and modified the electrical system from 6-volt to 12-volt, because the faster the starter turns the engine over, the better it starts,” he said. “I hadn’t started it for a year. We changed the spark plugs, it fired right up.”

Nobis said the restoration took two years. During the past three years, Virginia was shown at the Delaware County Fair, along with his 1941 Ford tractor named Violate that had once worked on Henry Ford’s estate. He said the Ford tractor was named Violate when he purchased it.

To get Virginia to the Meeker Homestead, Bryan Hill, owner of Trailer Max, 5404 Columbus Pike, Lewis Center, volunteered his time and a trailer to tow her. When Hill arrived, he realized he would need a bigger trailer because of the wide tires rear tires.

Once Virginia arrived at the homestead, Nobis climbed aboard the tractor and wiggled it lose from the larger trailer. As he backed off the trailer, the tires let out a loud squeak because they were wedged in tight against the trailer’s side rails.

Once freed and parked, Connie Hoffman, the venue manager of The Barn, climbed onto Virginia’s driver seat and said: “I’ll need to learn to drive it.”

Nobis said that automation has given way to the higher-tech tractors, and Virginia is a bit tame compared to some of the modern, large machinery of today.

“This tractor still runs and plows,” he said. “We are very proud to have had one of the Lehner family tractors.”

Delaware County Historical Society Collection Chairperson Sue Bauer said the DCHS only accepts donations into the collection that are from or have to do with Delaware County.

Meeker House Museum is one of the oldest and most prominent historic homesteads in Delaware County. Today, it is being transformed into a museum and educational facility for the early settlement period of Delaware County.

The museum, located at 2690 Stratford Road in Delaware, is open from 2 to 5 p.m. on Sundays. For more information, call 740-369-3831.