Friday, May 13, 2016

Benton-Simpson-Fleming-Turek Farm, Daniels Farm Road

The farm at the intersection of Daniels Farm Road and Simpson Brook Road (West Waterford) has a complex land history, explained by Josiah Henry Benton, Jr., in his 1901 book Samuel Slade Benton and His Ancestors and Descendants (Merrymount Press, Boston). Samuel Slade Benton (1777-1857) was born in Connecticut and probably left school to work near his brother Jacob in Walpole, NH, when he was about 12 years old. He married in 1802 in Langdon, NH. But in 1801, Samuel and his brother Jacob "went up the River about 90 miles and bought each of them farms ... my grandfather [Samuel] first went to Waterford as early as the spring of 1801. November 10, 1801, he bought fifty acres of land (being one half of Lot 8, Third Range) in the town of Waterford, Vermont, for two hundred dollars ... in the back part of the town. It was high, wooded land requiring much labor to clear and subdue for cultivation. On this lot he built a log house, to which is the winter of 1802, when he was twenty-four years old, he brought his young wife, Esther Prouty, then nineteen years old."

Benton proceeded to buy and sell portions of other lots, until he built a "home farm" of 200 acres. He also began a trading tradition from Waterford to Portland, Maine, and Boston, driving a four-horse team, carrying local goods out and returning with supplies. Neither his trading nor his farming was considered very profitable, but another farm that he purchased in St. Johnsbury, and lived on for a while, he sold at "a very large price" of $5,000 to "the Messrs. Fairbanks, and they afterwards erected upon it their scale factory."

Later owners of the home farm around 1867 moved the house to its current location and added the second story and kitchen. Clarence Simpson moved there as a small child around 1906 and later with wife Ruth ran the farm, bottling milk and farming 700 acres; the Flemings farmed there during 1943-1974; the Simpson family again in the 1970s, during which the large high-rise barn was taken down (foundation still visible, along with marks probably from the silo foundation); and then the farm was split into smaller parcels.

As of 2014, in addition to a large home (which began as a one-story Cape in about 1806), the farm includes four agricultural structures:

1. Horse barn.
(1) Standing at the road facing the house (behind the house to the left), a current horse barn that was probably built as an equipment shed. Style unknown. Publicly accessible. Concrete foundation, wood roof structure with corrugated metal, wings for possible hay storage, earlier chimney removed. Footprint about 20 by 20 feet.

(2) Sheep shed or pony barn, behind house. One of the older structures. Wood/clapboard exterior with concrete foundation and metal roof.
2. Sheep shed.

(3) Former milkhouse, now chicken coop. Behind house to the right. Cement floor, wooden exterior. Dates from when the high-rise barn existed.
3. Milkhouse, now chickenhouse.

(4) Pole-barn garage, at roadside.

4. Pole barn now garage.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Historic Barn Types: from UVM


Because farmers have traditionally remodeled or combined barns over the years to suit their needs and tastes, it is often a challenge to recognize these basic types today.  There are also other types of historic barns and specialty outbuildings found on many Vermont farms.  Consider this guide a starting point.

English Barns (before the 1770s to 1900s)


Vermont's early farmers built their barns based on a traditional barn design that the original colonists brought with them from England. The basic design remained popular for smaller barns throughout the nineteenth century.  Measuring about thirty feet by forty feet with a pair of large, hinged wagon doors on the long side and unpainted vertical boards on the walls, the English barn usually stood on a level site without a basement.  Inside these barns were divided into a center drive and threshing floor (onto which the pair of doors open) with hay and grain storage on one side and animal stables on the other. 

Yankee Barn (1820s to 1870s)


By the mid-1800s, many farmers adopted a new design for their barns which allowed them to house up to ten cows and shifted the main entrance to the gable end.  Inside the center drive floor followed the ridge of the roof with cow stables in a row on one side and hay storage on the other.  Usually built into a hillside so that manure could be pushed into and stored in a basement below, these barns could be expanded by adding additional bays to the rear.  To reduce winter drafts, farmers rejected traditional vertical board siding in favor of tighter board-and-batten, clapboard or shingle sheathings.  They soon found that rooftop ventilators were needed for fresh air and windows for light.  

Sheep Barn (1820s to 1870s)


Prior to the era of dairying, sheep were the most widespread livestock raised on Vermont farms. Older barns were either adapted to shelter sheep or new barns were built.  These barns typically consist of two levels and may be built into a bank. Sheep were housed on ground floor which opened to a fenced pasture with a southern exposure.

Late Bank Barns (1870s to 1900s)


Those farmers specializing in dairying soon needed space for more than ten cows, and many built huge multi-storied bank barns to house cattle and other livestock and to store winter forage and grain for them.  At the uphill gable end, a covered bridge or "high-drive" often provided access for wagons to the upper hayloft.  Cow stables with rows of wooden stanchions are in the story below, with manure stored in the basement.  Most late bank barns are sheathed with clapboards and  have elaborate wooden ventilator cupolas, often topped by decorative weathervanes.
Horse /Carriage Barns (1850s to 1910s)


In addition to the main barn, many farms also utilized a number of supporting barns and outbuildings. The horse or carriage barn is one such example. Though earlier examples exist horse or carriage barns became increasingly popular during 1860’s and 1870’s as horses replaced oxen on farms.  Many of these barns contain a granary for storing feed and cupola to increase ventilation.  Other elements common to the horse or carriage barn is the presence of small windows indicating stalls, gable entrance with hay door in upper floor, and greater level of architectural embellishment as most of these barns were built by more affluent farmers. 

Ground Stable Barns (1910s to 1950s)


After 1910 government health regulations for the production and handling of fluid milk required new barn designs.  Agricultural college experiment stations promoted the gambrel-roofed, ground stable barn design, which was widely adopted throughout the country.  These barns housed cows on a washable concrete floor in steel pipe stanchions at ground level.  The gambrel roof made an ample hayloft and could be erected with pre-fabricated trusses. Ducts from steel ventilators atop the roof provided fresh air for the cows, and long rows of small windows gave light to the stable area.  A small, milk house was usually attached to the building.

Kevin Powers Barn, 1962

High Ridge Road, ground stable barn, no public access. Concrete foundation, post and beam framing, barn board siding. Gable roof of wood with sheet metal. Milkhouse. Entry at gable front. 100 by 30.

Located across from Pat Powers home. Barn has attached hay barn and milkhouse. Built by brothers Russell and Willard Powers as the main barn for a milking operation. Has been used on and off since construction. [Note from Beth: Construction probably coincided with the new requirement of concrete floors for dairy barns, circa 1962.]

Weaver-Rudd Barn, 1950s

Simpson Brook Road. Ground stable barn, no public access, dairying. Built in early 1950s. Concrete foundation, stud construction, metal exterior siding with shingle appearance, gambrel rood of wood with sheet metal, entrance at gable front, about 60 by 30.

Most recently used as rental storage space. Was built in the early 1950s as the new dairy barn, in the barnyard of the original high-drive barn and stable ell. Jasper Rudd was the owner and partnered with his son Frederick to run a dairy operation of about 60 head, of which 34 were milkers. Frederick owned the 265-acre farm after Jasper, until 1973. The next owners, Aubrey and Simone Weaver, used the barn as storage space and did not dairy farm. Some acreage has been sold as farmland and residential. After the Weavers, the house burned down in April 2009.

Pleasant Valley Farm, Built 1950-1951

Dave Morrison: An old map in the Davies Memorial Library says this farm was settled in 1800 by E. Freeman. Later in the 1800s it was known as the Charles Ross place. Raymond Morrison bought the farm in 1921 or 1922. At that time, there was an "Early Bank Barn" close to the road, with the hay floor at road level. Cattle level was below and manure level below that. Around 1950, a section of the cattle floor gave way, and the milkers died, hung in their stantions.  The "new" stable (present now) was built at this time with the "old" barn used for hay storage and calves. The new barn has tie-ups for 20+ milkers, 10 heifers, a bull pen, and stalls for 3 work horses. Ray Morrison farmed there with horses until the mid 1960s (he did have an old John Deere tractor toward the end). The subsequent owners, John and Barbara Hird, had the "old" barn taken down. Portions of the farm are still used for hay and corn by the Bullock family.

Town history, p. 19: Capt. Elijah Freeman was one of the first pioneers of Waterford, having come in 1796. His sons were Aaron, Elijah, Arad, and Farwell. He bought three lots of land and gave one to each of his boys, except Farwell. Town history, p. 74: Charles Ross was a survivor of Andersonville Prison during the Civil War. Town history p. 44: The first school in this district was taught in John Grow's dwelling house on the farm where Raymond Morrison now lives. The first school house was built of logs and near Mr. Grow's house.

Powers-Gillott Barn, 1948

Old County Road. Dairy barn built in 1948 by Willard Powers and used in dairying through the 1950s. Now used for goats. No public access. Concrete foundation, stud construction, gable roof of metal with sheet metal. 30 by 50. Entrance on eaves side. 

Sequence of owners: Powers, Johnson, Kimball, Gillott (cheesemaker).

Lawrence-Lund Carriage Barn, 1920s?

Lawrence Road. Wagon shed/carriage barn, with no public access. Stone foundation, post and beam frame, with barn board siding. Shed roof of wood with sheet metal; entrance on eaves side.

Stone foundation is on side away from road, only. Current owner removed the original interior carriage bays.

Phone interview by Helen Chantal Pike on 4/23/2013 with 82-year-old current owner Milton (Milt) Lund: structure "may have been built by Abbott Lawrence of Lawrence Road. No relation to Charlie Lawrence.

Milt calls it a "wagon shed" because the side away from the road used to be open in order to garage wagons and other horse-drawn farm equipment. He says he's put doors on to close up that side. Only the road side has the stone foundation.""

1940 Census shows Abbott Lawrence age 41, farmer, with mother Victoria (age 79) living with him. records further show Abbott's father as Victor, born 1849; Victor's parents were Orville Lawrence (1823-1907) and Olive G. Bingham (1829-1916). Orville is of some note: "Orville Lawrence by Steele's Store 1890s. Orville was a "town character" who had made a fortune on Wall Street in the late 1860s as the partner of Russell Sage, but lost it all in the Panic of 1873. He came back to Waterford to farm. Orville was quick-witted and outspoken, and many entertaining sorties have been told about him. - St. Johnsbury, Vermont By Claire Dunne Johnson"