Monday, February 12, 2018

Summer of Building

    The first summer in Somerset County was very busy. Not only were we trying to get our 15 acres  looking better, there was a large garden to take care of, and a new one acre strawberry patch to start and keep weeded. We also were adding a large L shaped addition to the house that was almost twice as big as the house was right now. The blue back porch was torn away a number of fruit trees and lilac bushes removed and a neighbor came over with his bulldozer and started digging away at the ground behind the house to make a basement. John, David, and I enjoyed watching as the earth was moved from the ever increasing hole in the ground to a big pile in the pasture.

     Once it was finally deep enough Daddy dug a footer by hand and the cement truck came. Uncle David came to help pour the concrete for the footer and then the basement floor. As soon as the cement had dried we played on it with our wagon. Daddy did the cement work, laying the blocks by himself. He gave John and me each a small tool to smooth the concrete that showed between the blocks. Once the walls were too high for us to reach he did it by himself.

     Once the blocks were all laid we had a frolic to get the floor, walls and roof on. We soon learned that the Somerset Amish were true to their farming roots and really had no idea what to do unless they were told. It was a very frustrating day with only a fraction of the things done that we had been hoping to get accomplished in one day.

     Once chore time came and everyone went home to milk their cows Enos Lee stayed behind a little longer and offered that his oldest son could help out as long as Daddy needed him. We were very glad to accept the offer. The following days Edwin would arrive right after breakfast and help with what ever Daddy had planned. The addition progressed slowly, there were quite a number of days that nothing was done at it until evenings because there were lots of other frolics going that summer and Daddy always went. One was to build a new school house and the other one was to build a church house.

     The church house was painfully slow in getting built since most of the older men thought it had to be built exactly like the ones in the other districts that had been built in 1881. They had a big fuss about finding square nails and old windows and who knows what kind of siding. They finally compromised somehow and our church house got vinyl siding and normal nails. They managed to find old windows somewhere and ancient stoves to heat it. Daddy used to come home from a frolic at the church house and when Mom asked him how his day went he would just shake his head. We children knew they wouldn't talk about it in front of us but if we managed to stay awake long enough we could hear them talk about everything once they thought we were asleep.

     Our addition finally got done and we move our kitchen sink and cupboards into our new kitchen. It looked strange with it's bright orange counter top since there were no matching orange doors and walls any longer. We also had a large pantry now and so the refrigerator could be moved in from the front porch and into the pantry. The rule in the Somerset Amish is that you can not have a refrigerator in your kitchen. So for seven months we had to go outside whenever we needed something. It seemed really nice to have it indoors once again.

     There was a nice sewing room at the one end of the addition. A really big kitchen and then a cement porch. It was supposed to be turned into a laundry room in the future but for now it would be enjoyed as a porch.

     Our old kitchen was turned into the master bedroom. So now I had a room of my own upstairs and no longer had to sleep in the hallway. It seemed really great. The new school house was done too and John and I were looking forward to starting back in a few weeks. The church house still wasn't completed but we were looking forward to that too. I had never been inside of a church house before and could hardly wait to see how it would seem.


  1. It is fascinating to read of the journeys you and your family made. I wonder if such things as Planning permission and Building regulations as we have here, were in force then?

    1. There was no need of permits back then in our county.

  2. Oh, that makes sense about the refrigerators. I thought The Somerset Amish did not have any b/c I hadn't seen one in a kitchen. Run by propane, I suppose. They do have a rented space in community/electric freezer buildings local English people have on their properties. Our local general store has one behind it, too.
    Enos and Edwin are very common names in our area.
    The foundation stone marked with 1881 at the local church is pointed out as being the same number upside down.
    The wood walls inside the church here are a warm yellow brown oak color. Amish neighbor Olive said that two years ago the walls were power washed down for the very first time.
    We attended a well attended funeral in the church. It was elbow to elbow, hip to hip for sitting and standing. I don't know how, but we all got up and turned around to kneel against the bench for prayer. We gave quick smiles to each other on the way back up.
    As my husband had a prior commitment after the service, we could not also attend the trip up across the meadow to the cemetery. We were told later not to go to visit the grave site b/c that is not done. That is a difference from grave yards of other churches, or even public cemeteries, as grave sites are often decorated with flags and flowers for example on Memorial Day.

    1. Propane was a big no-no. Those big propane tanks you may see have been converted to being used air tanks.

      Refrigerators had a stainless steel pan installed that held a coil of Freon filled copper pipe. The pan was filled with water enough to cover the pipes. A little gas engine runs an ice compressor which causes the pipes to get covered with thick ice.

      The food stays cool, but not cold like a regular refrigerator would.


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