Dutch Barn Preservation Society

Dedicated to the Study and Preservation
of New World Dutch Barns

NEWSLETTER SPRING 1994 Vol. 7, Issue 1

The Dellemont/Wemple Barn

by Mark Hesler
This issue of the newsletter features an outstanding example of an early Dutch barn located in the Town of Rotterdam, Schenectady County. (All photos are by M. Hesler; unless indicated otherwise).

The Normanskill, with its fertile floodplains and beautiful valleys, is the major watercourse bisecting Albany County from east to west. Its importance was established early as a water/overland route between the Mohawk River and the Hudson, as well as providing sites for some of the first inland agricultural settlement. The Normanskill enters the Hudson River just south of the City of Albany, and it was here that the earliest Dutch settlement in the Albany area occurred. In 1614-15, Fort Nassau, a year round trading post, was established on Castle Island near the mouth of the Normanskill.

In August of 1672, Jan Hendrickse Van Bael purchased land from 4 Mohawk Indian Chiefs, on both sides of the Normanskill, approximately 7 miles upstream from the Hudson. In 1677, the Van Bael Patent was transferred to Jacob and Jan Hallenbeck. Each built a house and barn near where the Vly Creek enters the Normanskill on the fertile floodplains. This settlement was the westernmost in Albany County up to that point, but set the stage for settlement further upstream in the Normanskill's rich valleys. During this same period Schenectady was being founded [in 1661] along the banks of the Mohawk River, at the northwestern fringe of the Normanskill watershed. It was here that Johannes (Jan) Dellemont (born 1684) came to settle in the early eighteenth century. Jan was the oldest son of Jacob (born 1628) who had settled in Albany. The Dellemonts were probably French Huguenots and were active members of the Dutch Reformed Church.

On November 3, 1714, Jan Dellemont, Mindert Schuyler and Arent Van Patten were granted a 500 acre patent of prime river bottom land along both sides of the upper Normanskill. This patent was divided into three farms, with Jan Dellemont's located furthest to the west, 160 acres in size and just 3 1/2 miles south of Schenectady. The majority of this site is protected bottomland in an area where the Normanskill makes a sustained hard turn to the west, thus avoiding an eventual juncture with the Mohawk. It is here that we find one of the finest and most impressive Dutch barns standing today - the Dellemont/ Wemple Barn.

A late nineteenth century scene of barn complex, with Dutch barn as the "core" structure. The later elongated addition with roof ventilators accommodated storage of corn, possibly broom corn, which apparently was a major crop in later years. (Smaller structure to the left was also used for corn storage). Notice the very rare, decorative spires on barn roof at gable ends, the front spire with the addition of a wind indicator (angel?). The large family cemetery is in the background. (Photo from collection of previous owners, Ruth and Warren Taylor)

This site is relatively unique in that it retains much of its original Dutch farmstead character. Although the earliest home reported to be on this site was a log cabin, the existent house is a typical Dutch two and a half story brick, gambrel roof structure, most likely dating from the early 1760's. About 250 feet to the northeast, across the lane, lies the early Dutch barn and outbuildings, while east of the house on a knoll, is the largest family cemetery plot in Schenectady County. The entire farm complex is situated at the base of a large plateau, protecting it from the prevailing winds to the north and west, while commanding a view to the south across the rich flats and to the Normanskill.

As with most Dutch Barns, determination of exact age is always difficult, although I believe the Dellemont/Wemple barn to be relatively early. This is based on both history of the site and the barn's features. It would appear that when Jan Dellemont acquired the site in 1714, it was with the intent of farming it. But no specific record is apparent in this regard until 1752, when Jan's son Abraham (born 1730) is mentioned as a yeoman in relation to this site. Therefore, in regards to the barn's age, I believe it could be as early as 1715-1720, but not later than 1750.

Abraham Dellemont, who eventually inherited the land from his father Jan, passed it on to his sons Jacob and John, in a will dated June 4, 1793. Jacob, the oldest (born 1768), received the land north of the Normanskill, including the farm complex. His marriage to Debora Bratt produced only one child, a daughter Annatje ("Nancy", born 1789). The farm moved into the Wemple family in the nineteenth century, with Nancy's marriage to Gerrit Wemple (born 1779). Their eldest son, Abraham (born 1805), eventually inherited the farm, and it remained in the Wemple family until November 29, 1922, when it was sold to a William Walsh. The Dellemont/Wemple legacy had lasted 208 years on this site!

Northeast gable end of barn in July 1987. Wide, weathered original siding, with "marten" holes still intact, as well as unusual (but original) "window". Notice the mid-nineteenth century dormer and stone ramp addition on southeast wall to allow wagon access to the loft area.

The Dellemont/Wemple barn is large by Dutch barn standards - 56' long and 47' wide, configured with just 4 bays, each averaging 14' in length. The center threshing aisle is 26' 6" wide and is accommodated by a set of Dutch style wagon doors at each gable end. An early feature not often seen today are the original wooden oak hinges that still support these heavy doors.

View of large grain storage loft area, with flooring supports removed from foreground bay. Craftsmanship and consistency of roof rafters is apparent. Very rare original lapped plank roof is the first layer of sheathing visible above the rafters.

This structure, because it has retained its original proportions and many exterior characteristics, provides a very good example of an early, unaltered Dutch barn (particularly when viewed from the northeast gable end). Some notable exterior characteristics are: comparatively steeply sloped roof (45 degree angle, 12" over 12" pitch). and low side walls (12' 10" in height; original gable end siding averaging 13" wide) and exhibiting typical marten hole configuration; lack of gable end eave projections; and original wagon and corner animal doors intact, with wood hinges and fine Dutch iron hardware.

The interior of the Dellemont/Wemple barn is even more interesting and impressive. The barn had accommodated a working dairy until the early 1960's and had been modified over the years accordingly. Therefore, determining the original interior configuration presents its challenges.

Entering through the front gable end (SW face), the barn clearly had a grain threshing floor as its center aisle. The floor planks, with much wear on the upper side and rough cut on the undersides, were tightly joined with removable splines in grooves between them. This example of fine craftsmanship is not very common, but would prevent any loss of grain between planks (another superbly crafted barn, the Deertz in Middleburg, Schoharie Co., exhibited this feature as well).

Another late nineteenth century scene looking northeast from the front of the brick, gambrel roofed house. Notice steeply sloped roof line of barn. The later front porch and shutter additions to the house have since been removed. (photo from collection of previous owners, Ruth and Warren Taylor)

The south side aisle originally consisted of horse stalls with a manger in the first two or three bays. There is some question in regards to the third bay. Today, the remains of an early grain storage room exists, with the later addition of a wagon loft ramp immediately above it. Due to some of the alterations from the later ramp addition, it is difficult to determine if the storage room is original to this location.

The fourth bay in this aisle is very unusual and interesting. There is clear evidence of an original animal free stall in the fourth bay. The threshing floor sill has consistent holes on its upper face to support vertical slats; fixtures exist mounted to the columns to hold plank rails running transversely to the outer wall and finally, animal wear is in evidence as you would expect in a free stall. The question remains whether this free stall was designed for young stock, or just for smaller animals (such as sheep) during the winter period.

The north side aisle, as would be expected, housed the cows. A very interesting find occurred after recent removal of a concrete floor and layer of later planking. At the very bottom layer of this side aisle were the remains of early (possibly original) cow stalls, including a wooden manure trough running the length of the aisle. Patterned holes for the wooden cow stanchions exist in the upper face of the adjoining threshing floor sill. And finally, a floor level feed trough was found at the edge of the center aisle, running lengthwise along the front of the stanchions. This was created with the addition of an angled sill-like timber anchored at both gable end sills. Fortunately, these features were left intact when the concrete was poured over this area, preserving them until their current discovery.

The loft area of the barn is very impressive due to its large size and height, and because of the steeply sloped roof. The loft floor is supported by beautifully crafted hard yellow pine anchorbeams 21' 1/2" deep and 11' 1/2" wide. Instead of the typical unfinished saplings for loft flooring, medium sized logs finished on two opposing sides are used as supports in combination with some wide planking.

Close up of north corner animal door. Notice finely crafted Dutch iron hinges and beaded door planks. Early, hand crafted rosehead nails were used on door planking and exterior siding.

In regards to the Dellemont/Wemple barn, there are many more features and details that could be discussed with additional space. The early age of this barn and extensive original features make it a valuable one for study. In addition to its early history there are a number of features I believe, when combined together, further confirm the relatively early age of this barn: lower side walls and steeply sloped roof; gable-end rafter collar ties; the low (6'5"), single transverse struts; wooden wagon door hinges; hand crafted rosehead nails and fine Dutch iron hardware; sway brace configuration and its depth, intersecting the columns below the anchorbeams; original lapped, plank roof; and finally, the lack of any sawn framework, with roof planking vertically sawn.

The current owners, Livio and Carolina Lazzari, have a great appreciation for the Dellemont/Wemple barn and are very concerned with its future.

Dutch Barn trustees Ev Rau and the late Vince Schaefer help owner Livio Lazzari remove, number and inspect deteriorated floor planking in preparation for future renovations. Planks were rough cut on the undersides and tightly joined with removable splines seated in matching grooves

They have begun preparation of the structure for necessary on going renovations. I believe this barn to be one of the finest remaining Dutch barns, with future preservation of the highest priority.


Early Barn Contract
(From Early Records of Albany, vol. 3, pp. 424-25)

Contract of Harmen Bastiaensen to build a barn at Kinderhook for Jan Maertensen:

On this 8th day of February 1675 appeared before me, Adriaen van Ilpendam, notary public residing in New Albany, and before the afterwritten witnesses, Harmen Bastiaensz of the one part, and Jan Maertensz of the other part, who in love and friendship are agreed in manner following, to wit: Harmen Bastiaensz acknowledges that he has undertaken to build for Jan Maertensz at Kinderhoeck a barn fifty feet long and twenty-six feet wide, with an extension on each side, ten feet deep and running the full length of the barn, and at each end a gable with sloping peak; furthermore to make in said barn five bents with five loft beams, of which five bents three are to have brackets, and double door at the front end of the barn and one door in each of the extensions, a horse manger forty feet long and all the inside work that belongs to a barn, except the floor, and properly to put on the rafters of the roof. The contractor promises to begin to work thereon next March of this year and not to stop before the work shall be completed. The employer promises to furnish the contractor with a man for one month to help rough-hew the timber; furthermore the employer shall provide all the materials so that the contractor shall not wait for them, and when the work is completed, the employer promises to pay to the contractor for the work done thirty-one good, whole, salable beaver skins, or wheat or other wares at market price, with which, if they suit him the contractor is to be content: but on condition that he shall give the contractor in hand three mudde of wheat so soon as he begins the work, to be deducted from the aforesaid stipulated sum, and furthermore pay the half next winter. The aforesaid contracting parties mutually promise to execute and perform the aforesaid conditions, binding thereto their respective persons and estates, nothing excepted, subject to all lords, courts, tribunals, and judges. In witness whereof they have subscribed this with their own hands, in Albany, dated as above.

HA[R]MEN BASTIAEN[S] This is the mark + of JAN MAERTENSZ, made by himself
As witnesses: Hendrick Rooseboom, Roloef Jansen-- Quad attestor: Adriaen van Ilpendam, Not. Pub.

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

 

DBPS SITE MAP

Copyright © 2007. Dutch Barn Preservation Society. All rights reserved. All items on the site are copyrighted. While we welcome you to use the information provided on this web site by copying it, or downloading it; this information is copyrighted and not to be reproduced for distribution, sale, or profit.