HVVA NEWSLETTER, July 2003
FROM THE JOURNAL
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Friday, May 23 with Alvin Sheffer and Bob Hedges we drove to Fort Klock in Montgomery County, on the Mohawk River. It is a pleasant, scenic two-hour drive from Alvin's farm in the Hudson Valley, Germantown, Columbia County, to Palatine Bridge where we crossed the Mohawk river and drove about 8 miles west to the Fort Klock museum site on the river bank. Our drive probably followed close to the road that many of the 1710 Palatine Germans took in the early 18th century, leaving the Hudson Valley where only tenant farms were available for the Mohawk Valley where there was hope of owning a farm.
We met with Skip Barshied and Paul Flanders and did a tour of Fort Klock and the Dutch barn with them. The fort is essentially a two room Dutch stone house with ports for its defense. There is some question as to whether Fort Klock was stockaded but Skip is sure that Fort Wagner, located about one mile east, was stockaded and we were fortunate in being able to examine that house later. Skip believes Fort Wagner has the most unaltered 18th century fireplaces in the area showing clear evidence of a 5-plate stove. The two houses have many common features and interesting differences both are 2-room Dutch stone houses with center chimneys. One room had a fireplace and the other a 5-plate stove. This was a common early 18th century house plan in the mid Hudson Valley as well. One example there is the 1705 DuBois Stone Fort in New Paltz, Ulster County.
Fort Klock was built in 1750 and a one room stone addition was made in 1764. In 1954 a young organization, The Tryon County Muzzle Loaders, took over Fort Klock. The building was abandoned and in bad condition when Skip, with the help of members, began restoration. The rebuilding of the back stone wall and the replacement of anchor beams in the hearth room were major corrections that needed to be done Some of the reconstruction Skip would do differently now, he says, but the building has served the community for so many years and so well as it was restored that they would probably resist changes today. We found gouged marriage-marks on the rafters in the loft, indicating a construction date before the introduction of the lead-screw on drill bits, circa 1790.
Both forts have double collar ties on the rafters but the wall plates in Fort Wagner have internal tie beams that are lap-dovetailed to the plates to hold them from spreading, a clever, perhaps Germanic, solution. Although we did not go into the cellar I knew from photographs given me some years ago by Shirley Dunn, that the 5-plate stove was supported on wooden columns and a short frame connected to the stone wall of the foundation. This may have been a regional design. It has not been noted elsewhere. The Dutch barn at Fort Klock, reconstructed from a neighboring farm, also has features that are distinct from Dutch barns in the Mid-Hudson Valley and may in someway be Palatine German in origin. Two of these features are the construction of the pentice roof and the external bents that have rotated columns with upper tie-beams.
An interesting interpretation of the cellar of Fort Klock that Skip has deduced is the raised stone ledge along one wall being possibly used to hold kegs of cider, the ledge allowing for clearance bellow their spigots. This might suggest the use of the log ledge in the cellar of the Neher farmhouse in Rhinebeck.
One interpretation of Fort Klock that is still a question is the type of fireplace it had originally. When Alvin and I measured it two-years ago we had assumed it was jambless because of the hearth support and the trimmer beams but it is difficult to understand all the evidence now hidden behind paneling and new masonry. Skip reminded us that trimmers are not always used for jambless fireplaces, a form that is rare in the Mohawk Valley. Fort Wagner has an English jambed fireplace.
After our tour of the fort we drove to nearby Stone Arabia to visit Skip Barshied's Dutch barn. Skip has been collecting objects and information about Mohawk Valley history and questioning his elders since he was a small boy. He has published some and shares information with others.
Last year I discovered some long wooden spiles, for tapping maple trees, in the crawl space of the Nehr house in Rhinebeck, Dutchess County. Later, I wrote a short piece on the development of that harvest and was pleased to see an article soon after, in the ALHFAM Bulletin (*), with a large bibliography indicating I was not too far off. Then I find that Skip, unknown to us, had discovered some . old tools of the maple harvest that fit a perfect evolutionary gap that echoes in the tools of Tapping Gouge and Spout timber framing, the gouge before the lead-screw and he showed me the following written evidence of their use.
The sugar-making season was always hailed with rapture by the boys. No one brought up in a new country, but can realize how exciting it was, and how eager and industrious the boys were to commence tapping the trees. This used to be done by cutting a notch in the sugar maple, and putting a spout under it, inserted by driving in a partly rounded, sharp iron instrument, called a tapping gouge, to cut a place for the spout that led the sap to the trough. Sap buckets were not then introduced, nor did they use an auger, as they do now, for tapping trees (**) .
The maple harvest was a tradition adopted and developed by European settlers of the Northeast from its Native American roots. The Dutch of the Hudson Valley also brought with them wagons and tools and architectural ideas that would distinguish them from their Yankee neighbors well into the 19th century. A lot of this material culture has been lost. No New World Dutch wagon has survived and only a handful of grain harvest tools. Skip has a number of objects known as "Dutch neck yokes" (***) in his collection, and three were recently identified in the Huguenot Historical Society collection in New Paltz.
The rare early box stoves have survived. The example that remains in the meeting house looks very like a Shaker stove but the Shakers didn't make their stoves until 1825 (****).
The Flushing Friends Meeting House is still in use. Its simplicity of construction, its many unchanged features and unpainted wood surfaces reflect the conservative nature of its membership.
The group next walked to the Bowne house where Evangeline Egglezos, its curator, gave us a tour of the building and background on its history. The oldest house in Queens County, the original section was built in 1661 by John Bowne, a member of the Society of Friends. Bowne's successful opposition to Governors Stuyvesant's religious intolerance restored freedom of religion to the colony of New Netherland. It is believed that the house served as a station on the Underground Railroad. (*****)
The Bowne house began as a one-room 4-bay Dutch house with a steep roof that may have been thatched. John Stevens will be doing a report on it in the next newsletter.
Decker, Bob Eurick, Rex Metcalf, Peter Sinclair, John Stevens and
Monday, June 23 received a call from Paul Solomon and went to see his 3-bay true-form Dutch barn _/Solomon (Uls-Hur-13) about 4 miles from my house in West Hurley. I took a few measurements.
It is one of three true-form Dutch barns in the town of Hurley that we know of, the others being the Niewkerk and DeWitt barns on Hurley Mountain Road. The Solomon barn has a square-rule oak or chestnut frame. The 13-pairs of pole rafters are pinned at the peak. It is a circa 1830-40 barn. Its story-and-a-half frame house still stands nearby. Their roof-lines are oriented north-south. There are two other outbuildings with exposed timber frames. They seem later than the barn, rafters in both buildings butt.
The neighborhood is opposing a proposed 4.5-acre commercial development in this rural residential area on Witch Tree Road in West Hurley close to the Woodstock line. This Witch Tree area has a cluster of early vernacular buildings. The contented home owners want to make the case for preserving the historic and rural character of the area. HVVA has offered to interpret the buildings.
July 7, 2003
Honorable Bernadette Castro, Commissioner
I am enclosing the July HVVA Newsletter with a report on our visit to the Flushing Meeting House.
From the Editor: Final plans are underway to dismantle the frame of the 18th century 3-bay Dutch barn in Saugerties that has been given to the Saugerties Historical Society by the Solite Corporation (*)The parts will be moved to the Kierstead House in Saugerties to be stored there and await eventual repair and reconstruction. The job is being supervised by Randy Nash of Cazanovia, New York, a veteran of barn restoration. Bill Ferrara and crew from Saugerties will be helping to remove the roof and operate the crane when the frame is taken down. Work will begin in July and be completed by the end of August. A number of local people have volunteered to help with the project and we would welcome others. It will be a good learning experience for people interested in traditional timber framing and architectural conservation.
The Solite barn moving project will be done in four stages: 1.) 5-days, removal of siding, documenting the frame for repairs and opening the roof peak for rafter spacing measurements and examination of the 4-sided ridge beam (nokhout), 2.) 4-days, remove roof, remove pegs and brace frame, 3.) 1-day with crane, lower bents, disassemble frame and load trailers, 4.) 1day move timbers to the Kierstead house and provide them with safe dry storage. If you are interested in joining us call Dave Minch, (845) 246-2711 for the schedule.
After a long search, the HVVA Material Culture Project has found a temporary safe home at the Trumpbour Corners Farm in Saugerties (**). Bill and Eliner Trumpbour have built a new house on their 65 acre farm atop a hill overlooking the Catskill Mountains and have been restoring and furnishing their 1734 Dutch stone house, down-bellow on the Old Kings Highway, as a family museum filled with Trumpbour documents and household goods that have survived over the 250 years the family has lived there.
I have been using the internet more and more lately to search for information. The Rufus Grinder watercolor of Fort Klock was taken from the Fort Klock site, an excellent source of historic information on the Mohawk Valley. The Historic American Building Survey (HABS) drawing of the Flushing Friends Meeting House was downloaded from the Library of Congress site which makes all of that massive architectural documentation, photographs and measured drawings, available. The one problem I have with the HABS site is my inability to print out their drawings large enough to read the numbers. While they are all good tools for the study of vernacular architecture, there is no substitute for examining the real thing, or what's left of it.
(*)HVV A Newsletters Vo1 4, No 10
Peter Sinclair, Editor, West Hurley, Ulster Co., NY
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