Friday, June 22, 2012

Part 2 of Barns of Gettysburg: Dairy family treasures historic log structure

In the market for a farm, Tom Clowney and his wife read up on some brouchures and traveled to Adams County, Pa., to look several over.

One of their stops was Grover Yingling's place.

"When the owner took me to the upstairs part of the barn I was disappointed. I had never seen a log barn before," he said.

"It looked old and it wasn't quite what I was looking for," Clowney recalled. "(But) You could turn around and see alfalfa growing. When you see that you know it is good land. You can change the barn, but you can't change the land."

Their first try for a loan in 1960 fell through because of the barn's age and condition. Eventually, they secured a loan and have been in the dairy business at the location ever since.

They kept the barn.

"It's very important to us," said Clowney, now 80. "We never intend to tear it down."

The Clowneys, who farm off Taneytown Road south of Gettysburg, are the 13th owners on the site, dating back to a Thomas Stevenson in 1741.

The barn is on the registry of Historic Gettysburg-Adams County, which helps preserve the hundreds of historic barns in the county. Clowney said in 1798 it was recorded as an old log barn.

The momentous Battle of Gettysburg occurred several miles north in July 1863. Union troops moved up on Taneytown Road to meet advancing Confederates.

"Most local people say there was no battle here," Clowney said of his farm.

Over the years friends have surveyed the 200-acre with metal detectors. "They find different things but not much related to the Civil War."

But that changed several weeks ago when someone discovered three Civil War-era bullets not far from the old barn.

Clowney's two sons help run the family farm, caring for Holsteins, Jerseys and Brown Swiss cows.

Unlike German-style barns featuring sawed lumber, the Clowney's historic barn, one of four on the farm, is made of hand-hewn logs.

The historic structure is 28 feet wide and 40 feet long.

"The upstairs is where we keep straw. We have hay and a granary." Downstairs features 12 pens and an area where they tend sick cows.

Most of the oak and chestnut timbers are orginal, though the roof has been replaced. An underground tile system was put in to help with drainage. "The foundation is very secure," Clowney said.

His daughter lives on another property with a barn.

"One of the old stories we heard Union army occupied that barn and they must have had a lantern where they poured oil, because it burned part of the log."

Photographs courtesy of Tom Clowney

Historic Gettysburg-Adams County
Details on Gettysburg farms and barns

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