Scholla: Barn Raising (Scheier uffschlage) April 7, 1943

Barn Raising        4/7/1943

Barn raisings, or Scheier uffschlage, are not as common today, as they were a generation or two ago. Now and then barns are replaced and new ones built but the time has passed when new farms are being developed, calling for new houses and barns.

In times past barn raisings were social gatherings attended by almost a hundred neighbors who donated their time and effort to place the beams and rafters and push the huge sides of the barn into place.

Timber was cut and hewn in advance of the day set for raising the barns. Every piece of lumber was marked, usually with some code, designating the place it was to occupy in the completed structure. All of the timber was brought to the spot where the barn was to be erected and placed in readiness for many hands that would arrive on raising day.

Stone masons built the foundation walls in advance of the actual raising. Master carpenters had cut the notches and pegs; measured all of the areas, and sawed the pieces to fit. Frequently the sides of the barn were completed in advance with all boards nailed into place while the huge frames lay upon the ground like wooden platforms.

On raising day the neighbors assembled. The more agile ones climbed with the rising structure to fit the rafters and beams into a roof while the husky ones applied brawn and sinew to carrying the heavy pieces and raising the barn sides into position.

After the work was done all hands moved to the cellar of the farm house where great kegs of cider or whiskey were disgorging their contents to the thirsty ones.  The long butcher-table was loaded with food for the hungry. This was their reward picnic time all over again.

The Swiss-type bank-barn is to be found only in Pennsylvania Dutch communities. If you espy a barn with a “forebrau” in some other section of the country you will find that it was built by a Pennsylvania Dutchman. Because of this unique feature on the American scene it may be worthwhile to list the names of parts of the barn as they are known in the dialect and ask readers to give the English equivalents, if possible.

Here are some of the dialect words, referring to parts of a barn, with which we challenge you. Send your answers in care of Scholla:

  1. Spanpett
  2. Darrich zug
  3. Mauer-latt
  4. Forebau
  5. Owwer-den
  6. Frucht Kammer
  7. Dachstuhl
  8. Fuder-gang
  9. Leede
  10. Zoppe
  11. Bohre
  12. Schprusse
Barn Raising in Berks County. November 25, 1913. Courtesy of the Historical Society of Berks County.
Barn Raising in Berks County. November 25, 1913. Courtesy of the Historical Society of Berks County.

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