A correspondent, who prefers to remain anonymous to readers of this column, has sent us an account of old-time fences which once marked the boundary lines of fields in eastern Pennsylvania. In compiling his list the contributor is aware that he has overlooked some types and asks us to appeal to readers for information about other kinds of early fence structures. Here we reproduce his list, including some comments which he has made and adding some of our own.
Stone Fences: One of the earliest types. Usually built by carrying the rocks from the cleared fields and making them serve as walls around the field. In this way a dual purpose was served. Such fences were common along the glacial edge which runs a direct line through southern Berks.
Slab Fences: Made from slabs of wood cut from logs at saw mills. No lumber was to be wasted.
The Pale Fence, or Clapboard (Glappboard), frequently used to enclose the premises of the house and garden. This type of fence required annual white-washing. A small village near Brownsville still bears the local name Glappbordstettle, as a tribute to the succession of houses whose front yards are enclosed by pales, neatly white washed.
The spite Fence, a type not confined to Berks, by any means.
Ornate Iron Fences, frequently of elaborate designs. This kind of fence has made Friedensburg famous among tourists.
The “worm” or Warrem Fence, cuttling a zipzag line between fields was not the same as the Stake or Schtalka Fence according to our correspondent. The “worm” fence was constructed of smaller timbers than the stake fence and was designed to keep only smaller animals, such as sheep, in pasture while the larger stake fence was built to enclose the pasture for cows and horses.
Then there was the “stickle” fence, usually constructed by driving stakes into the ground close together; the Storm Fence formed by planting evergreens closely so that they formed a windbreak. The state highway department has used the same idea in the construction of snow fences; the Privet Hedge and Brush (Hecke) Fences.
Unique in the farming area of eastern Pennsylvania is the artistic Barnyard Fence. The commonest type was fence of seven or more rails or sliding boards attached to stone pillars of limestone. Frequently these pillars were topped off by a miniature roof arrangement. These ornate fences served to add another artistic touch to the Swiss-type barn.
The writer mentions the Horse Shoeing Fence known to the English as stocks but named Node Stahl by the Pennsylvania Dutch. Graveyards usually fenced in by some very secure fences or walls, frequently of native limestone.