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Thursday, Apr. 28, 2016

The Barns of Clay County

Saturday, November 23, 2002

First in a series ...

The first barn featured in this column is the Hunt barn, located on US 40 and the Clay/Putnam County line road. The barn and surrounding property is owned by Norman and Rosemary Hunt, who purchased the property soon after marrying in 1949.

Talk about a unique barn! This is it.

Kate Eaglesfield, the first woman admitted to practice law in Indiana, is responsible for the 40-stall horse barn which included walnut and teak wood, now long gone.

Another feature of the barn that can be seen today is its honest-to-goodness oak hardwood floor. Eaglesfield and her husband, Alonzo Robbins, a lumber merchant and shareholder in the Western Erie Railroad, lived on the property when the barn was built. The barn is an English style barn, with large doors on each end.

"The large doors opened so a breeze could blow through during thrashing time," Norman said. The chaff was blown out and the grain remained."

This is a feature that will be seen in many other Clay County barns

As the story goes, the house on the property had poplar floors, and Kate's husband wanted the floors to be the then-popular oak tongue and groove, so he ordered in the oak flooring to be brought from Indianapolis to the railroad siding near the house. Kate "persuaded" her husband to leave the flooring poplar. Therefore, the oak flooring became the second floor of the barn. And the flooring has withstood time and chickens, still in place after more than more than 100 years.

Since the barn was built for horses, Eaglesfield had all the horses retired from her husband's lumber yard brought to the farm. The horses lived out their lives on the farm, even being buried on the grounds.

The barn measures 55 feet by 65 feet. It has electricity, which was probably added in the early 1900s.

Besides being used for horses, the barn also housed thousands of chickens.

"At one time, we raised 12,000 broilers, four times a year," Norman said.

Laying hens were also raised in the three-story barn. Besides the chickens, the barn also held the chicken feed.

Norman said that the barn is often used as a landmark for giving directions to travelers.

Currently the barn and surrounding property, which includes a house and apartments, is owned by the Hunts. Since they bought the property they have raised chickens, sold smoked hams and operated a restaurant and a gift shop. The business operated under the name of Hunt's Pleasant Acres Apartments.

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