More than just a mower, the Yazoo has become legend among family and friends.
Below is a brief history I have compiled on the company through a web search and contributions from readers of this page. If you have any other information you think should be shared about these machines, email your information to firstname.lastname@example.org. I am by no means an expert when it comes to these machines. I also do not know where to get parts for these machines anymore, other than on ebay.
The original design for what would become the Yazoo mower was developed by a local inventor in Bentonia, Mississippi, named Claude Renfro. From an article in “Today in Mississippi”, “The first blade was made with a flat steel bar fashioned from an automobile lead spring with a rotating cycle type cutting blade-ends. The spindle was driven by a twisted belt attached to a four cycle engine with 20 inch bicycle rear wheels attached to a tube frame. The concept and the invention along with the second mower was sold to Kerr Tire & Rubber Company in Jackson where it was manufactured until 1981.”
Sometime between 1942 and 1943, James A. Kerr, Sr. began a family business called Kerr Tire and Rubber Company, . The business developed into several separate companies and divisions including, but not limited to, Yazoo Manufacturing Company, Inc. (YMCI), Yazoo Sales Company (YSC), Yazoo Sales Eastern Division2 (YSED), Kerr Enterprises, Inc. (KEI), Master Sales Company, Inc., Auto Electric and Carburetor, and Yazoo of Texas.
The Yazoo Mfg Company was founded in Jackson, Mississippi in 1945 by James A Kerr Sr and remained in the Kerr family until 1981. The YR had a unique gearbox that allowed instant forward to reverse and near zero turn capability – years before the availability of hydrostatic systems. The YR was simple to operate and maintain. Built in the factory in Jackson, Mississippi, the YR had a choice of sizes and power units.
Here is a video of the Yazoo Commercial Rider:
Yazoo was also famous for their Big Wheel line of heavy-duty push mowers. What set these mowers apart was the larger wheels and the fact that the mowing assembly was driven indirectly with a belt to absorb the shocks and protect the engine.
According to an email I received, the original Yazoo was invented by Morris Ghere and John Barker, who had the original patent rights to the mower. They began their factory in Jackson, Mississippi. Not long after they built the factory, it burned to the ground. Shaken and in debt after the fire, Morris Ghere sold his patent rights to Yazoo. I believe it was sold to Mr. Kerr who then hired Morris for a brief time to help him restore the factory and get it going again. Not long after, Morris left the company and moved back to Illinois where he lives today at the ripe old age of 97. The family still has a lot of the original advertising literature printed before Mr. Kerr took ownership as well as pictures of the devastation after the fire.
Here is an original dealer promo video for the Big Wheel Mower:
James Kerr, grandson of the founder, is now in Melborne Australia producing lawn equipment under the name Red Roo.
Here is a video produced by the Red Roo Company with some historical pictures, and features the Red Roo version of the Yazoo Big Wheel Mower.
Repair information for the Wisconsin AGND motor: http://www.wisconsinmotors.com/support_repair_spec/32
Yazoo Patent number: 2505377 – Rotating Disk Type Mower
Below are some pictures of my “Master Mowers” and other pictures of the other Yazoo products from the internet. More to come.