We soon began to see that farming and cattle were advancing in areas and progress was taking down many of the centuries old barns in the Ozarks and surrounding areas. Often these historic structures had fallen into disrepair and were bulldozed into a pile with trees and brush and burned. One of the Amish men who we had built a friendship with was tearing down some of these barns and had planed down some of the lumber to build some buggy boxes and wagon boxes with. He was pointing out the rich golden color of the long-aged wood which was so unlike the new version of the same wood.
The sawmill marks and nail holds, stained black from the iron, added a richness of character to the projects unlike anything Jake and I had seen before. The man also spoke about the barn which he had gotten the lumber from, how it had been built in the middle 1800s and part of it was hand hewn. Hewing a log is a process where a log of the right diameter is cut from the timber and then “hewn” with a tool called an adze which looks like a cross between an axe and a hoe. It is used to chop the log from round to flat on oneside, then it is turned a quarter turn and the process is repeated.
The process continues until a square post the correct dimension is obtained. The adze marks leave a remarkable and unique pattern which seems to speak of the determined spirit of the man who left them. The timbers were then framed in a variety of different patterns and with joints sometimes unique to the builder. They were most often held together by large wooden pegs or square nails.