We loaded up the car on Wednesday with all of our gear (coring bits and bobs, boots, camping gear, caffeine, etc.) and left Morgantown for the mountains of Pendleton County. We could not have picked a better time! All of the trees were at peak on our drive down and it was beautiful!
Our first stop after the three hour drive to Franklin was the Boggs House Museum, property of the Pendleton County Historical Society (PCHS). We had previously collected two samples from the museum on our trip to Pendleton County in June 2015. From those samples we were able to determine that the logs were actually tulip poplar (instead of black walnut, as the PCHS had believed), but we were not able to provide a date for the two samples. So we made arrangements to collect more samples on this trip.
Ananias Pitsenbarger Farm
Oh, and did I mention that Jeff and Teresa were expecting 15 motorcyclists to arrive for a big gathering while we were there? I don't know how they managed to keep us fed, entertain the visiting historical society and journalist, and make preparations for a motorcycle event all at the same time! They are amazing.
The big barn is interesting because it is very different from the "Propst/Pitsenbarger" structures on the farm. It was constructed out of oak and poplar logs that were left mostly rounded with steeple notching. As you'll see, most of the other structures associated with the Propst/Pitsenbarger period (mid 1800s) are all pine and half dovetail notched. Also, note the door hinge in the photos of the big barn. This feature will come up again later. Our thoughts are that the big barn might be a remnant of the Amick period (late 1700s).
Friday morning we started working on the Pitsenbarger house. Before coring, we went in the house to have a discussion with the ghosts. Jeff and Teresa have shared with us many ghost stories that happened on the farm and we felt like we needed to explain to the ghosts everything we were doing and why. You know, just in case... I'm not saying I believe in ghosts, but it doesn't hurt to cover your bases.
We limped our way up to the new house (Jeff and Teresa's house) Friday evening after coring all day and met the motorcycle "gang". When Jeff and Teresa told us there would be a bunch of motorcyclists here, my immediate thought was that it would either be A) a bunch of guys in leathers, covered in tattoos, long braids, and intimidating attitudes or B) a bunch of retired doctors/lawyers (no offense to the doctor who was actually there!) on their tricycle motorcycle things (I don't know what they're called), fancy Harley's, and side cars. I know that is ridiculous and stereotypical, but that's what I thought. In reality, there were a bunch of guys (and one gal!) on those super tough off-road (think large dirt bike) motorcycles. They were so cool! We were pretty impressed by the bunch.
I was secretly hoping someone would offer to let me ride on the back of one (how cool would that be?!) and also secretly hoping no one would offer to let me ride on the back of one! They looked terrifying.
Anyway, we hung out with the motorcycle crew Friday night around the big campfire and swapped ghost stories, life stories, etc. It was a real pleasure getting to meet these guys that we would have never met otherwise.
Oh! And one of the guys snapped a photo of a black bear hanging out very near to where we were working at the house that day. We had no idea it was there! Eek!
Saturday morning we set out to core the granary and the spring house. It was very cold and windy that day.
As we were approaching the granary, a raccoon fled the scene. Shawn screamed. And I almost wrecked the car. Yeah.
We made sure he/she was long gone and then got to work.
Since we still had a day left to work, we decided to collect cores from the three hay barns. These barns were very interesting to us, because they had the same notching style as the big barn and appeared to be constructed from the same species (oak and poplar). They were also very different from the house and granary, which were pine and half-dovetail notched. We have a hunch that the hay barns and the big barn may have been constructed by someone other than the Propsts. Perhaps Henry Amick? If so, that would make these four barns the oldest surviving structures on the property.
All three hay barns look alike and all three have had the roof replaced, as well as a few upper logs. We were careful not to core those. Additionally, two of the three barns still had the original doors, which happened to be constructed the exact same way as the big barn door. Important? Perhaps.
It would be cool to have some archaeologists come out and do a dig for the foundation!
Any interest, Drs. McBride?
Saying goodbye to our lovely hosts, Jeff and Teresa, was very difficult. But it had to be done. With promises of a return in spring (during mushroom season!), we packed the car back up and headed back to Morgantown.
A project this large will take us several months for analysis, but as always, stayed tuned for results!