Barn Preservation Society
to the Study and Preservation
of New World Dutch Barns
FALL 1997 Vol. 10, Issue 2
RECIPIENT OF THE 1997 DUTCH BARN REPAIR GRANT
By Vaughn Lainhart Nevin
When Reid Lainhart walks from the house to the barn and puts his
hand on the massive, hand-hewn timbers of the Dutch barn H-core,
he is the sixth generation of the Lainhart (originally Leonhardt)
family to do so. Michael Leonhardt, born c. 1730, came up the Hudson
River from the Rhinebeck area and settled on land in the western
part of Rensselaerwyck as a tenant of Stephen Van Rensselaer c.
1768. His marriage to Maria Woester is recorded in the Reformed
Church of Rhinebeck in 1759 where it states that he was from "The
Paltz" and lived in Kleine Esopus. She is reported to have
lived in Staatsburgh. If there was an earlier tenancy record, its
existence is unknown, but the Lainharts are in possession of a
1790 deed. This deed gives Michael inheritable rental rights for
the sum of
"five shillings" and a yearly rent of 22 skepples of "good
merchantable winter wheat" and "four fat fowls" to
be delivered to the Van Rensselaer manor house along with one day
of service with carriage and horses on the second day of January
of each year.
Michael's will, written in 1786, leaves the farm to his widow, "so
long as she remains my widow," and if she married she was
still to retain one third part of the farm during her life. The
oldest son, John, already married and living on his own land, was
left a sleigh, colt and an equal part of movables and' stock. The
two other sons (there were seven daughters also who were provided
with "moveables" and loose estate) were to have equal
shares of the farm. Simeon was to receive a
"cow extraordinary" if he married, and he was to give
Henry, the youngest son, "learning." Simeon did marry
and in time he and Hendrick (or Henry) inherited the farm. Simeon's
share included the house and barn and shed, while Henry's share
was land closer to the Bozenkill.
Presentation of the Dutch Barn Repair Grant. From
left: Chris Albright, Everett Rau, Shirley Dunn, Harold Zoch,
Joseph Albright, Amelia Andersen, Reid Lainhart (receiving check),
Sue Lainhart, Bob Andersen, Henry Vanderwerken. Photo by Bryce
The tenancy arrangement with obligations to the Van Rensselaers
was carried on by Simeon until his death in 1845 and then by his
son Henry S. Lainhart. External events were to change this pattern.
In 1839 the
"good" patroon, Stephen Van Rensselaer, died. His heirs
and agents, who were more exacting in demanding payment from their
tenants throughout the manor, precipitated a revolt that had been
brewing ever since the Revolutionary War. The influx of freeholder
Yankees from New England was coupled with a new American ethos
which sought freedom from every sort of tyranny. These factors,
along with growing prosperity, led to refusals to pay rent, and
demands to buy the farms outright. The Anti-rent Wars began in
1843 and there followed a long period of political dissent, litigation
and some violence before there was resolution and breakup of the
patroon system in the 1850s. The manor proprietors finally gave
up their rights and sold the land to some tenants.
Henry S. Lainhart obtained a release and quitclaim to his farm
from the Van Rensselaer agents in 1851. With the deed to the land
now firmly in hand, he proceeded to enlarge the house and barn.
The Dutch barn was a style that served its purpose well but needed
to be enlarged to store the increasing amounts of hay and grains
grown to meet the market demand of a more populous area with a
more robust economy. The Lainhart farm was producing good crops
of timothy hay, oats, rye, wheat, buckwheat, clover hay and broom
corn. The family also had corn for fodder, a vegetable garden,
fruit and nut trees and raised sheep, chickens, and pigs. There
also were cows for milking and for meat, a team of oxen and at
least two horses. This information is derived from the diaries
of Stephen Lainhart, Henry's son.
It was a cold spring in 1859 with frosts continuing into June,
according to the diaries of Stephen, who was 18 years old that
year. In May they had taken down part of the old barn, the existing
timbers to be reused, and in early June the carpenters began to
erect the new barn extension. The west door was removed (the original
pentice mortises in the anchorbeams are still visible inside the
barn) and the barn was extended another 15 feet. This original
Dutch style barn door from the western side was moved to the northern
side of the barn, the west side now being completely closed in.
The Lainharts, father and son, with help from neighbors, other
family and the hired men, planed the siding for the barn. The carpenters
worked for four days, then left, and Stephen wrote that "we
finished the barn." The slaters came to put on the roof on
the twenty-first of June, at a cost of $52.00, not paid in full
until 1860. The more durable slate roofing was made possible by
the opening of the Champlain Canal in the 1840s which allowed more
slate to be brought in from Vermont. The horse stable also was
repaired in 1859 by John Moak.
The large barn retained the core characteristics of a Dutch barn.
Side aisles and stalls were added for the farm animals but the
primary purpose of a Dutch barn was for the protection, storing
and threshing of grains. The large Dutch-style half barn doors,
situated previously at the East and West ends to allow the prevailing
winds to help in dispersing the chaff when threshing on the barn
floor, were now located on the east and north sides with another
door on the southern side. In the original core one can still see
the classic "H" construction with large hand-hewn anchorbeams.
Two loft ladders are carved out of existing upright supports and
the square core is built on stone piers. This inner core of wide
pine floorboards, anchorbeams, purl in plates, rafters and plank
roof continue to be responsible for stability and longevity. The
anchorbeams, vertical posts and purlin plates display the characteristic
mortise and tenon construction. The roof line is steep with original
slate roofing material. Here also there is no ridge pole, but the
large roof rafters are tapered and finished with a fork and tongue
end into which a wooden peg is inserted to hold the fitting together.
The original wrought iron hinges and latches on doors are some
of the most interesting features of the barn and the other farm
View of barn looking west. Wagon entrance and animal
doors still remain at this end of barn. No evidence of wooden
hinges or pent roof over the wagon door exist at this end of
barn. Newer addition was added to opposite end. Notice wagon
door on the side wall which was added during 1859 rebuild. Photo
by Henry Vanderwerken.
Anchorbeam to column joint at second bent (original)
north side. Mortise for original anchorbeam brace can be seen
in anchorbeam. Estimated size of original anchorbeam brace is
12 by 15 inches. Notice empty cutouts in anchorbeam tongue for
wedges. This was the only anchorbeam to have these and it is
unknown why. Photo by Chris Albright.
Observations of the Lainhart
Dutch Barn, Guilderland, New York
By Christopher Albright
Anyone who has gone to one of the barn tours that the Dutch
Barn Preservation Society has sponsored in the past can attest
to the changes made to barns over the years. These changes can
be as minimal as replaced siding and metal roof or as drastic as
a total rebuild with major structural changes. Entrances and interior
layout are commonly modified to accommodate changing farm practices
and what is in vogue for the period. Dutch barns often had the
gable end wagon doors moved to the sides, mimicking English barns
as the Dutch culture waned in the early 19th century. As dairy
farming increased and grain production diminished, more room in
Dutch barns was allotted for cow stanchions and hay storage and
less for grain threshing and storage. Many Dutch barns have one-bay
additions to the gable end built primarily for the storage of hay.
The Lainhart barn, situated one mile north of the village of Altamont
in Guilderland, New York is a good example of the changes made
to Dutch barns. What is unique about this barn is that there is
a diary of Stephen H. Lainhart that documents the date of a major
rebuild. His entry of May 18, 1859, "commenced taking down
the barn," reflects the beginning of this project. The diary
entries of May 12, 1859, "commenced planning siding for the
and June 7, 1859, "carpenter commenced work," are indications
of the beginning of the rebuild. An entry on June 21, 1859, "the
slater began the roof," suggests near completion of a project
that took just over a month.
An examination of the barn today gives us an idea of the original
dimensions of this barn. It was a three-bay barn with sway bracing
only at the gable ends. These sway braces extended well below the
top of the anchorbeams by almost three and a half feet. The length
of the original barn can be verified by examining the purlin plate
for splices and mortises that are no longer in use. The length
of 38 feet is rather small compared with an average of 42 feet
for Guilderland Dutch barns. The barn's current width of 41 feet
is probably the original width. There is some evidence that
Original configuration of bays and sway bracing
is shown above. Notice long sway bracing which extends well below
the anchorbeam and built-in ladder, both typical of barns built
in the town of Guilderland, NY. Below is the configuration of
the bays and sway bracing after the 1859 rebuild. The original
three bay barn can be seen to the left and the newer one-bay
addition is to the right.
either the wall height was increased or the side aisles were widened
as the rafter cutout angles do not seat on the purlin plates correctly
in its current roof pitch configuration. Most likely the wall height
was increased (currently 14 feet 2 inches). However, there is no
evidence of the wall studs being spliced to achieve this. The side
walls may have been new to the rebuild, though an inspection of
these wall studs suggests otherwise. A center aisle width of 21
feet 4 inches is on the low average and side aisles are rather
small at 9 feet 10 inches. The anchorbeam dimensions of 12 inches
by 17 inches are not exceptionally large but the anchorbeam braces
were. These large anchorbeam braces were replaced during the 1859
rebuild with smaller 9 inch by 7 inch braces. An examination of
the half empty mortises for these braces indicates an anchorbeam
brace with dimensions of 12 inches by 15 inches, the width being
the same as the anchorbeam itself. Why these anchorbeam braces
were replaced has not been determined. Maybe large anchorbeam braces
were out of style. The gable end bents, which very often in Guilderland
have no anchorbeam braces, have braces that extend upward from
the anchorbeam to the column. In Guilderland, this has been observed
one other time in a barn about one mile northeast of the Lainhart
barn. Instead of a high transverse beam in the gable end to support
studs for the sheathing, a collar tie was incorporated just above,
and may have even rested on the purlin plate. The use of collar
ties instead of upper transverse beams has been documented in early
Dutch Barns as well as several other barns in the Guilderland area
of Albany County, New York. The gable end rafters that would have
the half lapped dovetail as well as cutouts for wall studs over
the side aisles can be found in positions other than their original
locations in the rebuilt barn. Mortises in the anchorbeam at the
original gable end facing the road (also the layout end) were for
the pent roof over the wagon doors. No evidence of a pent roof
remains for the opposite gable end. The barn retains what appears
to be its original floor with a median sill exposed. The floor
boards average between sixteen and twenty inches wide and two and
one half inches thick.
Though the barn may have been rebuilt on its original site, evidence
suggests that it was moved to its present location. The bents have
been renumbered to include the added bay (i.e., the first bent
is now marked as the second, the second bent is now marked as the
third and so on). This renumbering would have been unnecessary
unless the barn was dismantled and rebuilt (i.e., relocated). The
original numbering system is a single chisel mark made across the
grain followed by one, two, three or four short notches identifying
the appropriate bent. The numbering system used for the rebuild
was of the more common roman numeral style.
The one-bay addition added to the layout end of the barn was 20
feet 3 inches long. This new bay had no gable end door and appears
to have been used solely for the storage of hay. The sway brace
configuration was changed during the rebuild to reflect a symmetrical
pattern in the now four bay barn (see diagram). Doors were added
to both of the side walls to allow wagons to enter the barn from
the side. However, the south side door is elevated about three
feet and was probably not a wagon entrance.
Recent work done to the barn includes the partial replacement
of sills and splicing of rotted wall posts along the north wall.
The columns had been spreading outward causing the rafters to slide
off their seats and creating a crease in the roof line with additional
problems to the slate roofing. This was solved by attaching cables
to the upper columns and drawing them back into proper alignment.
Portions of the slate roof and siding were replaced to maintain
weatherproofing. This year's barn grant was used to stabilize the
south wall foundation. The commitment of the owner to maintain
this barn will ensure that it will continue to provide a fine example
of a Dutch barn for years to come.
Top photo taken in
northwest corner of addition looking southwest. Mortises for
pent roof in original gable end anchorbeam can be seen. Notice
upward anchorbeam braces in original gable wall and sway bracing
from 1859 rebuild. Original ladder has been moved to current
location. Photo by Chris Albright. Middle photo is of south
wall of barn before grant work was done on foundation. Bottom
photo is of an early smoke house next to Dutch barn. Middle
and bottom photos by Henry Vanderwerken.
The expansion and improvement of farm buildings on the farm continued
into 1860. An old shed was leveled with carpenters and slate roofers
hired to build the new one. This year the "new siding and
came from Scrafford's mill The "buttrements" for the
shed were laid in early May and by the 19th the new shed was raised.
In July, Stephen wrote that the shed was painted, the final touch.
An interesting and perplexing entry in October of that year is
Stephen's account of laying a wall "under the barn." Does
this refer to the new barn built in 1859, an older barn, or one
about to be built? If it refers to the 1859 barn, why wasn't the
wall laid at that time? One explanation suggested by Vincent Shaefer's
book on the Dutch barn is that the outer walls were curtain walls.
Thus, they were not weight-bearing and the foundation under the
sills could be a dry wall of flat and semi-flat stones laid by
masons. The sills are massive timbers of a single long piece of
wood. A recent Dutch Barn Society grant made possible repairs to
reinforce the barn's stone foundation, no doubt the same referred
to in the 1859 diary.
Papers found on the farm by current descendants of Henry and
Stephen Lainhart attest to building additions and changes according
to fire insurance purchased. Prior to 1851 the description of things
protected included a dwelling house (for $200), household provisions
and furniture ($200), a barn and shed adjoining ($300), and hay
and grain in barn and shed ($300). In 1861, the farm was now insured
for $2000, which included $1000 for the house, $600 for the barn
and one shed adjoining on the west, $200 for another shed 50 feet
south of the barn, $100 for a wagon house on the west side of the
road and $100 for hay and grain in the barn. The barn remains useful
for the current generation of Lainharts occupying the farm and
is a historical testament to the integrity of the Dutch barn in
the Hudson-Mohawk region.
Stephen H. Lainhart inherited the farm from his father, Henry,
and Stephen passed on the farm to his son, Charles, who had stayed
with his family on the land of his ancestors. Reid Lainhart, the
present owner, is the son of Charles, and he and his wife are recent
grandparents of a new Michael, the eighth generation. Across from
the barn and on a knoll above the house is the Lainhart family
cemetery. Here Michael is buried ("felled by a tree" in
1796) beside his wife, Mary. Simeon and Henry S Lainhart and their
wives are also buried in this plot along with a few other members
of earlier generations, their wives and husbands and children.
Benjamin Lee, a veteran of the Revolutionary War and husband of
Maria Lainhart, second generation, is buried here. Hand-written
family cemetery records claim there was an unmarked area for "colored
people of olden times."
They had lived and worked on the farm as was the custom in the
eighteenth century. The continuing sense of place and purpose engendered
by these extant reminders is a precious heritage for the family
and the region.
The author of this article is a seventh generation
Lainhart, the great-granddaughter of Stephen and the granddaughter
of his son, Irving. She wishes to acknowledge the very important
research help and suggestions of Sue Lainhart, and the knowledge
of Reid Lainhart and Everett Rau who have farmed the land and
used these barns since they were boys.
Gravestone of Benjamin Lee, soldier of the Revolutionary
War, buried at the Lainhart family cemetery.
Gravestone reads, "In memory of Michael Lanehardt
who was unfortunately killed by the fall of a tree. On the 25th
day of March, 1796. Aged 66 years." Both photos by Chris
I was delighted to find in your current issue of the Newsletter
Neil Larson's article on Dutch barns and the 1798 Direct Tax.
The project being run by the University of Delaware to find,
accumulate, and analyze the results of this ill-fated taxing
effort is truly important for all who study the built landscape
of the United States. I also lament that few of the tax returns
survive for New Jersey, either.
DISTRIBUTION OF DUTCH BARNS 1749-1782
One aspect of the article surprised me: the author's surprise
at finding the phrase "Dutch barn"in the tax lists, and
his reliance on that discovery to demonstrate that the term was
in use before the appearance of Fitchen's or Reynold's books. There
is much other evidence-even older evidence-that Larson might have
used to establish this point. To cite one example with which I
am familiar, in New jersey, 18th century newspaper advertisements
for farm sales often distinguished between English and
"Dutch" barns, especially in those counties where the
latter were numerous. Using such advertisements, Rutgers University
cultural geographer Peter O. Wacker mapped the location of Dutch
barns advertised as such in newspapers between the years 1749 and
1782 (the last year for which published extracts are available).
A copy of Wacker's map is enclosed.
Robert W. Craig
Principal Historic Preservation Specialist, State of New Jersey
Dutch Barn Preservation Society
The Mabee Farm Historic Site
1080 Main St. (Rt. 5S)
Junction, NY 12150
Phone: (518) 887-5073
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