In the heart of Ohio, on a rise overlooking Dry Creek, there is a unique barn that tells its own story. Charles O. Hawkins purchased the farm in the latter part of the 1890s. He built the barn in 1900, as indicated in the peak of the roof on the south end. He grew and threshed wheat and raised sheep.
Of course, all barns tell a story if you know how to read them: if you can tell the wood it is constructed from, read the clues in the frame, and identify the type of barn. However, this barn is different.
Anyone can read the pages in this diary — well, not the pages so much as the walls and joists. You see, Hawkins, having an artistic streak, made his barn his very own personal journal. He created a remarkable handwritten history by recording local events and happenings on the farm. The things that impacted farm and his life. For instance, he declared the flood of 1909 the worst since the flood at the time of Noah in the Bible, and then there was the flood of 1913. He watched the weather and noted early frosts, late snows and the shearing of sheep. Here and there, he interspersed his notations with little caricatures.
Soon after the barn was built it became a billboard for the advertisement of Mail Pouch tobacco. Around the late 1980s the Mail Pouch ad was covered by a political sign proclaiming “Elect Ron Paul president.”
3 levels, 3-part original door
The barn itself is unique in that it has three levels. The front of the barn has two outshot sheds at ground level connected by a center dormer. The mow floor is 3 feet higher then ground level. Therefore, in order to pull a loaded hay wagon into the barn, it must ascend a wooden ramp. This required more height in the doorway.
The solution to this problem came in the form of an unusual three-piece door. Two doors were hinged on the sides, short enough to clear the roof and open flat against the side of the barn. The third piece was a transom panel hinged on the top to swing up, out of the way, into the dormer. Once the wagon was on the mow floor, it was unloaded by use of a hay car and track suspended under the ridge of the roof. The entryway and ramp are still intact. However, the old door has been replaced with a modern garage door for convenience.
The third level of the barn is the basement, with a beautiful field stone foundation. Livestock no longer grace this stable area with their sounds and rustlings, as a concrete floor has been added for more activity space.
The Marshall family bought the farm in the 1970s. They grow strawberries, raspberries and blackberries. They also grow wheat and grind it right on the farm with a hit-and-miss-motor to power the grinder. The grinding equipment is mounted on a wagon so it can be taken to various events for demonstrations.
The wheat flour is then used in the Marshalls' concession business. They have a concession wagon that they take to a circuit of fairs and festivals through the summer and fall months. The process of planting, threshing, and grinding grain is a little different than in Hawkins’ time, but the outcome is still the same.
Do you have a barn with unique features or story that you would like to share? Or member of an organization that would like to learn more about barns and their history? Contact Gray at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 740-263-1369.