A Life Of Collecting

Like his father before him, Will Weatherby was a collector. Most likely his grandchildren will be, too.

Amy Weatherby Johnson, Will’s daughter, said they have collections of Will’s mostly local tractors, accessories and other vehicles that date back over 40 years.

Many of the tractors have been lined up in a field near the traffic light at the intersection of Routes 62 and 957 in Russell, attracting attention from passers-by.

And while they will keep several of the tractors that have meaning to family members, Goodrich Auction Service will sell most of the rest on June 14.

“My tractor is an Oliver 550. Dad pulled the wedding party with it in my wedding,” she said. “We are keeping most everything related to local history.”

She said her 3-year-old son will learn to drive on an 8N Ford tractor, just like his father, Jeremiah Johnson, did.

Johnson said the rest of Will’s collection, like the tools, photos, furniture and other items displayed in the old hardware store at the four-way stop in Russell, will remain in the family’s possession while they decide how best to preserve it.

“My brother (Willard Daniel Weatherby) and I are looking into some kind of structure to preserve it for future generations,” she explained.

Rob Meyers, Johnson’s stepfather, said, “Will’s mindset was local history, but he collected everything. One of his dreams was to turn the old hardware store into a museum. Most of the tools in there were made in northwestern Pennsylvania and southwestern New York, including tools from Warren Axe and Tool.”

The old store, which was originally a three-story hotel, also contains a piano made by the Widdifield Company in Warren, and a collection of Griswold cast-iron cookware that was made in Erie.

He said, “We still have stuff to bring out,” for the auction. ” I counted 69 tractors out there, but he had nearly 100.”

Johnson said of her father, “He had an encyclopedia in his head about all these tractors and how they are related.”

Meyers added that the only tractors that probably don’t share a connection with the others are the John Deeres.

For most of them, Will ran them for a while, then put them away.

He said the oldest tractors were Fordsons and the oldest vehicle was a 1925 Chevrolet Superior K.

“He loved his Chevys, but he bought Fords and Dodges if they were old enough,” Meyers said.

A number of the vehicles were converted from Ford Model As into “doodlebugs,” including one truck they called the “Clampett mobile,” because it resembles the truck from the “Beverly Hillbillies” television show, Meyers said.

Johnson said, “I wish we had taken advantage and got him on video telling his stories” at the various local festivals about local history.

Willard Weatherby died last January following a brief illness.