Vergil Frost’s tractor collection held a special meaning for local family
Editor’s Note: The following article was originally published in the Northland Case Collectors Newsletter in April of 2021. It is being reprinted with their permission. Vergil Frost passed away on Aug. 22, 2021 at the age of 89.
In May of 1932, Vergil Frost was born to Dorothy and Axel Frost in Atwater, Minn. They moved to rural Henning, where Vergil grew up. In 1943 Axel bought his first Case tractor, a VAC, when Vergil was 11 years old. That tractor was the first spark that ignited Vergil’s passion for Case tractors. The main tractors that were used on Axel’s farm were a 1941 SC Case, a 1943 VAC Case, and a 1945 VAC Case.
Vergil married his high school sweetheart and neighbor, Geroline Anderson. He then went to the iron range with his father in 1951 to first become carpenters, then Vergil found employment in the iron ore mines. In the fall of 1955, both Vergil and Geroline moved to the Iron Range for Vergil’s work. They bought a 40-acre farm in rural Gilbert, Minn., where they mostly raised beef cattle. Vergil and Geroline raised 7 children on that farm while he was working in the mines. The majority of his farming was done with Case tractors but he also had a B Farmall and Allis-Chalmers WD 45.
With the love and support of his wife Vergil began buying Case tractors for farm use. It then became a hobby for the family to collect and help restore tractors in the shop with their dad. His children Steve, Wayne, Rose, and Shari were the ones that helped the most when it came to restoring the tractors. In his spare time with the support of his family, Vergil competed in tractor shows and tractor pulls with the tractors that they had restored. One of the competitions was the teeter-totter where you competed to see who could balance their tractor the fastest on the platform that Vergil had built.
He sold his farm in 1995 and moved back to Henning to help his mother-in-law. He had to auction off 19 of his tractors to move back and was only able to keep a few that were really special or hard to find, like his 3 RCs, DC, VAC, VC, and SC. His wife then passed away in June of 2005 and in that same month a tornado hit. The tornado tore the roof off of his shed and damaged his tractors that were in it. He then lost interest in tractors for a while because he was depressed about losing his wife and getting his tractors damaged.
His son Steve brought Vergil down a 1952 VAC to try and get him interested in restoring tractors again. Vergil and Shari, his daughter, worked on rebuilding the motor for the VAC. In 2015, Vergil’s grandson Skyler came down and wanted to restore a tractor with his grandpa. With the help of Skyler and Shari, Vergil was able to completely restore the VAC in 2017, that he had gotten from Steve, and in the process found his passion for restoring Case tractors once again. Some of his kids, grandkids, and great grandkids were more than willing to help him fix his tractors that were damaged and add to his collection. Some of the tractors that have been restored lately are a VAC in 2017, a VC in 2018, and a DC, L, and CC4 in 2019.
The 1941VC that was restored in 2018 was driven by Vergil in the 2018 Henning Parade. He was super excited because it had been one of his dreams to have his tractors in a parade. Some of his kids, grandkids, and great grandkids got together the week of the parade to help get his tractors out of the shed, washed up, and running for the Henning Parade. He kept saying that he couldn’t believe that it was really happening until the day came and he was leading some of his grandkids and great grandkids in the parade. He had a huge smile spread across his face, that said he was one proud Grandpa to finally be able to participate in a parade with his family. After the parade he had already starting making a list of what tractors he wanted to get done for the parade the next year.
In early June of 2019 he was hospitalized due to health issues and his daughter, Rose, stayed with him. They got to talking about his tractors. They talked about the ones that he used to have and the ones they had restored. One of the tractors they talked about was an LA Case that he used to have and how he wished that he still had it. It was sold on the auction and he thought that he would never see it again. While in the hospital Vergil’s family made him promise that if he got better that they would have two more tractors restored for the parade that year.
His family kept their promised and for the 2019 Henning Parade they were able to help him get a 1952 DC, 1937 L, and 1936 CC4 Case tractor restored. Everyone pitched in to get the collection washed up and running so that he could again participate in the parade like he wanted to. The day of the parade his son, Steve, came down and drove a 1952 DC Case right behind him. He was all smiles as he drove through the parade with his family and tractors behind him. He couldn’t wait to do it again the next year.
Wayne helped Vergil’s son-in-law, Don, purchase the 1948 LA Case back in the spring of 2020 from the person that had bought it from Vergil’s auction. On the way home with the tractor, Don blew two tires on the same axle of the trailer. With the help of his family, Don was able to chain up the axle and make it the rest of the way to Vergil’s house. When they got there, Vergil was sitting outside and was just staring at the tractors on the trailer. Don asked him if he remembered the tractor when he was looking at the LA. They had his grandson, Brandon, turn the air cleaner and his eyes got wide because it was the t-pipe that he had made for his LA. He was so overwhelmed and couldn’t believe that they had got it home for him because he thought he would never see it again. He started laughing when he was told about the tires blowing because when he brought the tractor home the first time, he blew two tires on his trailer as well. That week Brandon got the engine loose on the LA and got it running for him. The tractor had been sitting out in a pasture since it was sold on the auction, 25 years ago.
Vergil has been working on restoring a 1949 SC Case tractor, he then got Covid-19 this fall, which put his work on hold. After getting Covid, his motivation to get better is getting the SC and LA Case tractors restored in time for the 2021 Henning Parade.