Barn Preservation Society
to the Study and Preservation
of New World Dutch Barns
SPRING 1994 Vol. 7, Issue 1
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Early Barn Contract
(From Early Records of Albany, vol. 3, pp. 424-25)
Contract of Harmen Bastiaensen to build a barn at Kinderhook for
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
As witnesses: Hendrick Rooseboom, Roloef Jansen-- Quad
attestor: Adriaen van Ilpendam, Not. Pub.
Dutch Barn Preservation Society
The Mabee Farm Historic Site
1080 Main St. (Rt. 5S)
Junction, NY 12150
Phone: (518) 887-5073
© 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.