The Amazing Mr. Galloway (and Mr. Knutson)

The Amazing Mr. Galloway (and Mr. Knutson)

This was what Buddie Knutson started with. Photo Buddie Knutson

The Duesenberg brothers will forever be linked to the most powerful and most luxurious automobiles manufactured before WWII. The vehicles they developed were so extraordinary that they forever changed the American lexicon with the addition of the ultimate descriptor – doozy. As with many automotive pioneers, however, many of their earlier accomplishments have faded into obscurity with the passing of time. The brothers also contributed to the evolution of the modern bicycle, and are linked to Maytag appliances and an obscure manufacturer of tractors and farm machinery. And the latter links the famous brothers with a craftsman in a rural Arizona town. Tying all of these stories together is William Galloway.

The cornerstone for the William Galloway Company established in Waterloo, Iowa in 1906 was the manufacture of a variety of agricultural products including manure spreaders and harrow carts. Everything the company was produced was available via mail order. Soon Galloway would be selling products produced by other manufacturers in a similar manner, and in less than a decade, the company was the largest mail order farm equipment supplier in the country.

In 1908, Galloway expanded his product line to include the manufacture of a vehicle promoted as a conveyance that could carry the family to church on Sunday and haul loads during the week. Expansion of his venture into automobile manufacturing occurred in 1910 with acquisition of a substantial interest in the Maytag-Mason Motor Car Company after securing a guarantee the company would relocate from Des Moines to Waterloo, Iowa. Senator Fred L. Maytag had initially established Maytag to produce agricultural machinery and washing machines but with the acquisition of controlling interest in Mason Motor Car Company in 1909, he expanded operations to include automobile manufacturing.

Buddie Knutson at the wheel of his restored Galloway. Photo Jim Hinckley’s America ©

The cornerstone for the Mason built automobiles was a two-cylinder engine designed by Fred and August Duesenberg. Acquisition of controlling interest in the company by Maytag and a subsequent merger did little to bolster sagging sales. Neither did manufacturing an automobile sold under the Galloway name in 1911. In 1910, Galloway and C.W. Hellen had purchased Dart, a manufacturer of trucks in Anderson, Indiana, and relocated the company to Waterloo. In 1914, with reorganization of the company it became Dart Truck & Tractor Company, a manufacturer of chain driven tractors, and after 1916, worm and internal gear driven models. The following year he made one more attempt to produce a passenger vehicle under the Galloway name. However, it debuted as the Arabian, a vehicle that with the exception of nameplate was an Argo manufactured in Jackson, Michigan by Benjamin Briscoe. In late 1915, Galloway turned his attentions toward the manufacture of what he envisioned as the blending of the passion for building a motor vehicle and his farm implement and supply company – a tractor. The Galloway Farmobile 12-20 debuted in 1916 and the company’s 1917 catalog notes that the tractor, which sold for $995 featured, “a 4-1/2-by-5-inch engine and a 2-speed transmission.”

Then, in the blink of an eye, the empire crashed. Over extension, the severe post war recession and a plunge in agricultural commodity values brought the William Galloway Company to the brink of bankruptcy in 1920. His sons resurrected the company in late 1926, but on a much more modest scale. As a mail order company for farm supplies, it lasted into the early 1940’s, and William Galloway passed away in 1952.

Fast forward a few decades to the closing years of the 20th century. Buddie Knutson, a craftsman that would have made Fred and August Duesenberg proud has turned his attentions and skills toward the resurrection of a very rare Galloway tractor that also happens to be a family heirloom of sorts. As there are only twelve Galloway tractors existent in the United States, and one in France, any restoration attempt would be a daunting task.

You can read more about the Galloway tractor, and Knutson’s restoration on our Patreon based crowdfunding site.