Oconto County WIGenWeb Project
formatted and posted by RITA
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Scenes from Oconto County Past.
What is left, or what was left until recently, of the old days.

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Photo courtesy of Milwaukee Public Library

LaPlant Stovewood Barn
Jones Creek Settlement



Habshar Collection

 Stovewood Barn 1
Lena - 1933


Habshar Collection

 Stovewood Barn 2
Lena - 1933

From right to left:
Oldest barn was log, additon 1 was stovewood construction, next was timber frame and milled lumber with fieldstone foundation.


Habshar Collection

 Stovewood Barn 2
Lena - 1933



Habshar Collection

 Stovewood Barn 2
Lena - 1933


Habshar Collection

 Stovewood Barn 2
Lena - 1933

 Noted Wisconsin historian, author Richard Perrin, wrote about the "Stovewood Construction" method of building in Oconto County. Also called cordwood and stackwood construction, this was the only building type that was not directly derived from Europe. It began in Canada where lumberjacks used the method to build their winter quarters in logging camps during the early 1800's. The migration of Canadian settlers to New England and New York spread this type of building process along the Northeastern US. From there, earliest settlers in Northeastern Wisconsin's territorial  French Canadian communities used the stovewood construction in their homes and barns starting in the 1840's, before Wisconsin statehood in 1848, and the organization of Oconto County in 1851.  Although this form of construction was found scattered in several places in the United States, Northern Wisconsin had the highest concentration of stovewood buildings. The style of construction was learned and carried on into the early 1900's by more recent German, Polish, Bohemian and Scandinavian migrations.

Jones Creek settlement, in Oconto County, was one such French Canadian settlement. It was located upstream from present day Lena. Up until the 1960's there were many stovewood examples still standing in the area, but neglect has destroyed most of them, including two highly prized classically styled structures.  Others are not noticeable as they have been covered by sidings of vertical boards or clapboard. Very minimal maintenance is needed on stovewood construction building for them to last centuries.  The LaPlant Barn, shown here, was an early example in Oconto County, standing about 5 miles east of Lena. Oak was the preferred wood for timbers and cedar or tamarack for stovewood fill. Another place having latter built examples is Pulaski.

Two methods of building were used in stovewood construction. Barns were most often built entirely of stovewood cut pieces stacked between hewn timber frames as fill. The thickness of these frame timbers determined the length of the stovewood pieces they supported. In the days of virgin forests, that was usually 8 to 10 inches for homes and 6 to 8 inches for barns. The stovewood was cut to the same length to fit flush with the framing timbers. Limbs were used between split trunk wood to fill smaller places making a tightly packed, solid fill that was then bedded with lime mortar. A solid surface of lime plaster was then applied, inside and out. Since the roof frame was erected with the wall frames, the last part of the project was to finish off the roof with wood boards covered with shingles or shakes.

The second kind of stovewood structure has no frame.  Fourteen to twenty inch lengths of cut wood made up the mass of wall, corned by stacked square timber blocks. These walls were mortared and lime plastered but did not generally have the siding covering. Barns were plastered on the inside walls; houses had inside wall coverings of conventional lath and plaster. These massive stovewood structures were often two stories in height, and used for boarding houses that accommodated lumberjacks and saw mill workers.

Barns were build in both the first and second methods. Most often stovewood construction was used on building wings and additions to conventional houses.

Rita



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