I.D. 'Jack' Vassar was born Nov. 12, 1900 on the Vassar family homestead, located eight miles southeast of Perkins, Oklahoma. The land had been settled in 1891 by his father, William A. Vassar, who lived on the homestead for 54 years prior to moving to Tryon, Oklahoma, where he lived until his death in 1949.
Vassar enrolled at Oklahoma A&M College in 1918 in the College of Engineering, but withdrew the following spring to begin work as a traveling salesman. For six years, Vassar traveled throughout Kansas selling cigars, fly spray, and patented medicines.
In early 1925, Vassar purchased the Perkins Hardware Company from W.D. Crabs, which he renamed Vassar Hardware. The purchase of the hardware company served as the end of Vassar's career as a traveling salesman and marked the beginning of the Vassar family's long history of business ownership and management.
That same year, Vassar married Mae Smithson, a schoolteacher from Carney, Oklahoma. The couple established their home in Perkins and, to this union, two children were born: Jack K. Vassar ('Jack, Jr.') and Marilyn Vassar.
In 1931, times were tough for Vassar, but instead of quitting the hardware business, he purchased three more hardware stores in Depew, Guthrie and Stroud. His success in the hardware business continued, however, in 1932, Vassar developed lung trouble and was advised by his physician to slow down. Vassar heeded the doctor's advice. Though he maintained his hardware stores in Depew and Perkins, Vassar once again turned to sales, selling cream separators and tools.
In 1940, Vassar opened a farm implement manufacturing business in Hydro, Oklahoma making rotary fresnos, marking the start of The Vassar Company. One year later, a plant was opened in Cherokee, Oklahoma, which was later combined with the Perkins plant in 1955. The plant was comprised of a 12,000 square feet building which contained a machine shop, sheet iron work, assembly line, paint shop, storage space and office.