Dutch Barn Preservation Society

Dedicated to the Study and Preservation
of New World Dutch Barns

NEWSLETTER SPRING 2000, Vol. 13, Issue 1, Part Two


By Harold Zoch
Here in the Schoharie Valley we have been viewing and documenting barns. Many of the observations and documentation were extremely important since these are all that remains of the barns. I estimate that 30 to 40 percent of our barns are gone. From the original Palatine settlement of Hartmans Dorf six of seven barns that were there are gone.

Observations have shown the evolution of the barns from original settlement to present day. In addition we have seen associated artifacts and structural features which may be unique to Schoharie Valley. We hope that via this article we will get response showing like artifacts in other areas and perhaps some idea of their use. As an example I have not found a Dutch Barn with doors on both gabled ends in this area.

A typical unmodified Dutch Barn in this area would be a four bay approximately 40 feet square. The granary would be located in the back right bay. It appears the first modification is to add another bay on the back end. Back here refers to the end opposite the gabled door end. The next modification appears to add a side door on the right side to the original back bay. This was the back bay prior to the addition of the fifth bay. Within this sequence perhaps the addition of a second door, for drive through, to the opposite side, follows or perhaps is concurrent with this last modification. Modification for side doors are easily spotted as modifications to existing structures. Later in time it appears side doors are no longer modifications but part of the original structure. The greatest modification in the Schoharie Valley to Dutch Barns is the addition of another barn perpendicular to the original barn forming a "T" on the back end. All of this type appear to be modifications and not original configurations.

As a side note here I have found one German or English Barn, I do not know the difference, with 1790 nails in the original siding, making them contemporary with Dutch Barns here.

Artifacts and Structural Features Described here are two separate observations. The first is a pole approximately 15 feet long that has a crochet hook shape on one end. The hook is on the larger diameter end. These have been seen in three barns all within 5 miles of each other. The hook end does not show signs of ware. One barn contained two another barn, now gone, had one and our barn at the Old Stone Fort has one. Photos here show configuration.

The second is a structural feature that has been observed on three Dutch Barns. The three were within a dozen miles of each other, two adjacent to each other. One is gone.

The second feature is associated with the gabled end large door frame. Within the large door frame holes are observed in the sill and the end anchor beam. These holes are about 3 inches in diameter. The holes are located about 3 inches inboard of the door post in the sill and overhead end anchor beam. I have found only one remaining in a sill but have no doubt others were present. Sill replacement or repair probably accounts for the loss of others. The remaining one is very important because it shows a circular wear pattern associated with the hole- see photo.

While documenting barns I always look for the worn tenon in the center of the anchor beam. In the gabled end door opening. Most of the companion holes are usually missing again probably due to sill ware or repair. These holes described here show no ware, except for door support poles. The only wear found was associated with the one remaining one in the sill.

From the beginning, based on their location, the thought of affiliation with the door arose. If two saplings, like the door center support pole, were placed in these holes perhaps a door could be fastened to these saplings or polls. Perhaps the circular wear pattern in the photo supports this idea. The door in this configuration could be opened inward or outward.

The purpose of any documentation is to record and provide for discussion. Has anyone else observed similar artifacts or structural features?


By R. J. Andersen
When the colonial farmer graduated from the barrack storage structure to the 5 bay American-Dutch Barn he increased his storage capacity more than 10 fold. The barrack capacity was said to be 10 tons. (Shirley Dunn, DBPS News Letter, fall 1989, page 4.) Using the drawing below,the barns capacity can be calculated starting with its total volume:

Length x Width x Average Ht. = Volume
50 x 50 x 26 = 65,000 Cu. Ft.
We must deduct the threshing floor which is not usually used for storage, 50 x 28 x 12 = 16,800 Cu. Ft. Total 65,000 Threshing FIr. (-) 16,800
Storage 48,200 Cu. Ft.

There must be allowance for framework and head space, so that the maximum, actual storage space is more like 75%.

75% x 48,200 = 36,150 Cu. Ft. Wheat

It would be simple to calculate how much straw (400 Cu. Ft. per ton) or how much grain (1.24 Cu. Ft. per Bu.) could be contained in the 36,150 Cu. Ft., however the sheaves of wheat contain a mixture of both. Therefore a problem arises as to the compromise between the two. Old wheat (1680) had long straw and short yield. New wheat (1990) has short heavy straw and long yield. The modern day wheat is bred to resist lodging. Present day yields are easy to come by, but assumptions must be made in the case of old wheat. When the author weighed a few stalks of wheat (1998) he found that straw and grain were of equal weight. This was verified in an interview with the Hillman brothers, of Selkirk, NY, the last wheat growers in Albany county, I was told-that their yields were 60 Bu. of grain per acre and 100 bales of straw, at 36 lbs. each. This amounts to 3600 lbs. of grain and 3600 lbs. of straw. We are going to assume that old wheat had the same grain to stalk relationship, 50/50.

Wheat in the barn consists of bundles of straw with grain attached. Using common tables, weights are as follows:

Straw at 400 Cu. Ft. per ton (2000 lbs.)

Grain at 60 Lbs. per Bushel (1.24 Cu.Ft.)

One Cu. Ft. of straw weighs 5 Lbs. One Cu. Ft. of grain weighs 48 Lbs. And

10 lbs. of straw occupies 2.0 Cu. Ft. 10 lbs. of grain occupies .21 Cu. Ft.
20 lbs. of crop occupies 2.21 Cu. Ft.

9 lbs. of crop occupies 1 Cu. Ft.

The net crop space of 36,150 Cu. Ft. enabled the farmer to store 325/350 lbs., one half of which is grain, or 162,675 lbs. This is 2711 Bu. of grain, at 60 lbs. per bu.
At an average yield of 10 Bu. per acre, it would require 271 acres of wheat to fill the barn.

Wemp Barn with Barrack, Feura Bush, NY

The Dutch Barn Preservation Society

c/o The Mabee Farm Historic Site
1080 Main St. (Rt. 5S)
Rotterdam Junction, NY 12150

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