Billy Millaway from Cleveland, Tenn., has a rare tractor called the Worthington. He owns two versions: a 1928 Model A and a 1932 Model B. Many admirers had a chance to view his Model A at the Florida Flywheelers earlier this year.
The Worthington tractor was manufactured by the Worthington Mower Co. in Stroudsburg, Pa. Made from a Model T and a Model A Ford, these little beauties were used for mowing golf courses.
Billy’s 1932 Worthington needed a lot of work after he purchased it, and he brought it to his mountaintop home not far from Chattanooga.
“I had to rebuild the motor and go all through it,” Billy said. “Then, I painted it all up.”
The 1928 Worthington was already in Billy’s possession when he bought the 1932, but it took obtaining the second one for the first one to make sense. “I already had the other one, but I didn’t know what it was. I restored this and a guy told me about it. I got the other at the same place.”
Over time Billy learned the history of the tractor. He found out that Charles Campbell Worthington, an industrialist and sportsman known as C.C. Worthington, came by mechanical genius through his father, Henry Worthington. In 1840, Henry invented the first direct-acting steam pump, which led to the formation of the Worthington Pump and Machinery Corp.
After college, C.C. took over the pump business from his father and eventually sold his interest in the company, and designed and built several steam automobiles under the Worthington Automobile Co. With money from his success, he built a summer estate and created the Shawnee Country Club with its famous golf course.
He immersed himself in golf to the extent that the formation of the PGA (Professional Golfers Assoc.) was brought about through his efforts. Concerned with the appearance of his golf courses ... well, that is where the Worthington Tractor comes in.
C.C. is credited with creating the first commercially successful gang lawnmower. He founded the Shawnee Mower Co., which later became Worthington Mower Co. The tractor went through various developments, and in 1938 his grandson, Ross Sawtelle, adapted the mower for use in military airfield maintenance.
After C.C. died in 1944, the company was sold to Jacobsen Mfg. the following year.
Approximately 430 of the Model A versions of the Worthington were built and a little more than 400 of the Model B were produced.
Billy had a copy of an ad about the Worthington tractors that stated “Machinery of Specialized Design to meet every mowing requirement. For municipal park systems, and golf courses, for schools and hospitals.”
Billy enjoys having a few unusual tractors and digging up information about them. He has plenty of time for it.
“I am retired,” he explained. “I worked at Bowater Southern Paper in Charleston, Tennessee, and made the newsprint. Four-by-five rows, I did that for 33 years.”
Readers with questions or comments for Cindy Ladage may write to her in care of this publication.