Dutch Barn Preservation Society

Dedicated to the Study and Preservation
of New World Dutch Barns

NEWSLETTER, SPRING 1998
Volume 1 Issue 1

INAUGURAL ISSUE

Violent Incident Dates Schoharie Barn

By Shirley Dunn
The Schaeffer-Ingold Barn of Schoharie is of special interest because there is strong documentary evidence of its age. Dating Dutch barns has proved to be difficult since the general scheme of the framing and construction techniques remained the same for almost two centuries. Although extremely early barns are usually recognizable, variations between barns can be regional and ethnic as well as age-related. These variations will be discussed in future articles.

Historical or documentary sources can be helpful as alternatives to physical examination in determining the age of some barns. The Schaeffer-Ingold barn has an especially strong historical record which suggests it was erected no later than 1780, and possibly as early as 1753.

 

The barn was identified in 1845 by historian Jeptha R. Simms in his History of Schoharie and the Border Wars (pp. 414, 606) as a building which had survived the Revolution and one which had been used as a summer schoolroom before that war. Simms carefully noted his oral history sources; the barn survival record came from a participant in the war and resident of the farm, John Ingold, a living son of the wartime owner. Maps, deeds, and a nearby structure, known as the first courthouse (still standing in 1988), make clear that the John Ingold farm of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries is the Paul Schaeffer farm of the mid-twentieth century.

Simms' account of the Brant raid on the Schoharie Valley in 1780 follows:

John Ingold, who dwelt where his son and namesake now resides, was in the fort that day with all his family except Anthony Witner, his step-father. As a hostile invasion was expected, the present John Ingold, then a lad fourteen years old, went the evening before with a wagon to take old Mr. Witner to the fort, but he declined going, and said he chose to stay and defend his house. He had given his grandson an old gun which was then at the fort; this he requested to have sent to him in the morning. The Ingold dwelling was burned, and as a part of two skeletons was found in its ruins, it was conjectured that a plunderer had been killed by Mr. Witner, before his death. The remains of the latter were identified by his silver knee-buckles. A barrack filled with peas, standing scarcely three yards distant from Ingold's barn, was set on fire and the enemy supposed from its proximity it would burn the latter; but as the former stood west of the building and the wind blew a gale from the northeast, the fire was fortunately not communicated to it. A fence on fire and slowly burning to the windward, which would have carried the flame to the barn, was extinguished after the enemy left.

The house associated with the Ingold incident is clearly indicated on a map of May, 1753, when the section known as "Fountain Towne" was divided by consent of the owners, including John Ingold (lncold). See the accompanying map detail.

Since the map legend also mentions the owners' houses, and the farms seem to have been in operation, there is a strong possibility that the Ingold barn was already in existence by 1753.

While most barns are not so dramatically recorded, research in local history books, and tracing the property through maps, deeds and wills, is recommended for a full understanding of the development of the farmstead and for clues to a barn's age.

In 1987, the Schaeffer-Ingold barn was purchased from its owner, Paul Schaeffer, and dismantled by the Schoharie County Historical Society, which intends to re-erect it on Society property. The barn was studied by members of the Dutch Barn Preservation Society shortly before dismantling began.

Acknowledgments: Research assistance for this article was provided by Helene Farrell, Schoharie County Historical Society. John R. Bleecker map of the division of Fountain Town, courtesy Schoharie County Historical Society. Drawing by Mark Peckham. Photos courtesy Schoharie County Historical Society. Photo caption notes supplied by Harold Zoch, Mark Hesler and Vincent Schaefer.

Newsletter Spring 1988, Part TWO

The Dutch Barn Preservation Society

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

Site Phone: (518) 887-5073

 

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