Jabez Love 1951-1960

The 1950s would see the demise of Love Tractors and Jabez Love’ involvement in the farm implement business. Given what was happening to the industry at this time, it is not surprising. We noted the following in our writings about the Farm Jeep

“According to an article by the Economic History Association, tractor production reached 564,000 units in 1951. While the Ford 9N/8N, as discussed in prior articles, was the primary competition, a farmer in 1951 could choose among dozens of tractors.  The big tractor producers (Deere, Ford, Massey-Ferguson, Case, Allis Chalmers, Oliver and Minneapolis Moline) held 98.8% of market share in the period of 1950-55. Willys would need to fight for even that 1.2% share against several other small, specialty tractor producers.”

Ad from The Tractor Field Book 1951

The Tractor Field Book for 1951 lists specifications for Love Tractor, Inc models J-51, C-51, and CL-51. It also lists the Friday Model O48. The full-page ad above features Love’s 3-point disc. Lift Tools Inc was formed in May 1950 to sell farm equipment in both the US and Canada. Louis Knoth, who had worked for Love “as plant superintendent, personnel director, chief engineer and sales manager” was the general manager of the new firm.


Article from May 18, 1950 The Herald-Press (Saint Joseph, Michigan)

What Love had to do with the enterprize is unclear. At the very end of Love’s business, the name Lift Tools will appear again.

The model J-51 is of special interest to Jeep collectors as it was based on the Empire Tractor. This tractor was made from Jeep components.

You can read the complete history of this tractor in Clint Dixon’s article “The Love Hydraulic Lift-Hitch.” Clint also discusses the history of changes to Love’s lift designs for both tractors and Jeeps.

The 1955 version of the The Tractor Field Book drops the J-51 model, but lists the C-51 and CL-51 models. It also lists Friday’s Model O48. Ads for Love Tractors would continue to appear during the early fifties.


Article from May 19, 1951 The Herald-Press (Saint Joseph, Michigan)


Article from Jun 12, 1953 The Herald-Press (Saint Joseph, Michigan)


Article from Apr 15, 1954 The Herald-Press (Saint Joseph, Michigan)

During the decade of the 1950s, Love’s name continues to appear in the press in sometimes not so flattering ways. Still, it provides some insight to what might be going on with his companies.


Article from Oct 17, 1950 The Herald-Press (Saint Joseph, Michigan)


Article from Oct 17, 1950 The Herald-Press (Saint Joseph, Michigan)

In March of 1952, Love appears to be heavily involved in the export business.


Article from Mar 7, 1952 The Herald-Press (Saint Joseph, Michigan)

We have found no evidence of the success or failure of these endeavors. Paul Zoschke sums up the last decade of Love’s tractor efforts:1

“Although Love made efforts to develop a national tractor business, his activity remained largely oriented to implements. According to Ed Miller, Jabez Love’s son-in-law, who worked for Love in the early fifties and was involved in business decisions through that decade, the decision to discontinue making large farm tractors was made in 1954. ln 1957 Chuck Prillwitz took the remaining tractors for sale on a consignment basis. Chuck had no success moving the row crop models, so they went back to Love, but the Michigan fruit growers still appreciated the Love design and he did eventually sell the orchard models.

During the late fifties Love continued some activity in implements and he introduced a small crawler tractor that was a precursor of the skid-steer loaders so popular these days. The Love story ended in 1960, when the company was sold and operations ceased.”

This double display ad from 1956 shows a new addition to the Love implement line, as well as something from David Friday.


Article from Nov 2, 1956 The Herald-Palladium (Benton Harbor, Michigan)

Love received a SBA loan to help keep his struggling business going.


Article from Nov 1, 1956 The Herald-Press (Saint Joseph, Michigan)

In 1957, Love is invited to DC.


Article from Sep 19, 1957 The Herald-Palladium (Benton Harbor, Michigan)

But Love wasn’t to go out quietly –


Article from Jun 4, 1955 The Herald-Palladium (Benton Harbor, Michigan)

An incident involving a union vote and a subsequent brawl appears to have taken Love to the end of his career. Insead of headlines about winning prizes and promoting new inventions, the clippings from the period of late 1958 and 1959 were not flattering.


Article from Oct 22, 1958 The Herald-Palladium (Benton Harbor, Michigan)


Article from Nov 8, 1958 Ironwood Daily Globe (Ironwood, Michigan)


Article from Jun 13, 1959 The Herald-Palladium (Benton Harbor, Michigan)


Article from Nov 4, 1959 The Herald-Press (Saint Joseph, Michigan)


Article from Nov 4, 1959 The Herald-Press (Saint Joseph, Michigan)


Article from Dec 19, 1959 The Herald-Palladium (Benton Harbor, Michigan)

Shortly after this period, Love sales his company. it seems that the ordeal of the trial had removed whatever pleasure had come from the tractor and implement business.


Article from May 31, 1960 The Herald-Palladium (Benton Harbor, Michigan)


Article from May 31, 1960 The Herald-Palladium (Benton Harbor, Michigan)

So ends the story of the Jabez Love and his tractors. Love’s obituary from January 1980 listed his occupation as a retired housing developer in some papers. His hometown newspaper told more of the story.


Article from Jan 2, 1980 The Herald-Palladium (Benton Harbor, Michigan)
  1. Paul Zoschke, “A Love Story,” Antique Power Magazine, September/October, 1997, page 43 ↩︎