Monday, May 16, 2016

An Old Fashioned Barn Raising

In my latest book, I have really worked to show the sense of community that was so prevalent back in pioneer times.  These people were often settling far away from family and friends, so as they came together, strong bonds would be formed as a community was born.

Barn raising in Lansing One of the things that has always fascinated me, were barn raisings.  I remember reading stories about how everyone would come together to help build or repair a barn for families in the community.  To me, it sounds like it would be such a wonderful feeling to work together with your neighbors to help build something they needed.

Since the cost of building a barn would be more than these early settlers could afford, they had to rely on the help of neighbors.

In researching, I found out that in many communities, it was expected for all able-bodied men to help if there was a barn raising.  If they didn’t, they would be outcasts.

Sometimes, a skilled worker would be hired to lead the project, or they would use men who had already done many barn raisings so had some experience.  The men would be required to put in the labor, while the women would also be expected to help by providing meals.

I can imagine these times as bringing a community even closer, the women working together to prepare meals, and the men working side by side to build the barn for someone who needed it.  The barn was one of the most important buildings on these homesteads, so having a structure built was crucial.

Churches would sometimes be built for a community in the same manner.  I was reading just today about a large church near where I live that was built entirely by the congregation donating manpower and materials.  It is so hard to wrap my mind around something that would never happen today.

I read how people donated rocks for the cement, how they worked together to cut the wood and plane it for use, and how even women and children would go around and gather used nails, hammering them straight to be used again.

Can you imagine how good it would be to still have these same ethics?

Today, no one would be willing to help without something in return.  And, they might even be afraid to build anything that might end up being better than their own.  That is the society we live in today.

It is just easier to pay someone to do it.  However, by doing that, we miss out on the camaraderie and the satisfaction of helping a neighbour.

Maybe it’s time to bring back the old fashioned barn raising.

This is the barn I played in when I was growing up - it still stands at my mom and dad's house.


Kay P. Dawson’s first mail order bride series, Wilder West, is available on Amazon.  Her new series, Oregon Sky, will feature the Wallace family who have settled in the Willamette Valley.  The first two books in the series, "Phoebe's Promise" and "Audrey's Awakening" are now available on Amazon!

Find Kay P. Dawson…

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  1. I love reading about the pioneer days! I've been watching the "Barnwood Builders" tv show, how they restore old barns and houses. The guys take them apart, tag the lumber, then rebuild them the same way by the tags. The two-story houses are built into one-story houses. Most of these barns and houses are 200 years old, then rebuilt to live another 200 years. They love the history of these buildings, so do I. To see this show and what the guys do is so awesome.
    I played in a barn similar to this growing up. It belong to friends up the street from, I'd help working on the farm to ride horses with them. Did a lot of baling hay, feeding cows and horses. The barn/farm is long gone and now the property is houses, so sad so sad. You're right about today no one wants to help your neighbor or community unless there is something in return. My mom was born in the early 1900's she talks about how she was raised, in Tennessee. She also talks about her grandmother living with them in the later years and how the women worked just as hard as the men.
    Thank you for writing about "The Old Fashion Barn Raising", I really enjoyed it.
    Donna Harris

  2. Great post. There was a lot to be said for community connections. For some people, I don't think they have a concept of what that was like.

    Hard work was involved, but made easier by sharing. Thanks Doris/Angela