How Unique is the Squire-Hennes Barn?

Posted on Dec 19, 2014

Long-time NBA member, Mona Hennes has put extraordinary energy and effort into researching this beautiful and unique barn that holds a special place in her family history. And the publication she has put together is testament to her diligence!  Mona was kind enough to share her masterpiece with us and allow the NBA to reprint a portion of it here.  A larger and more detailed article will be featured in the upcoming issue of our printed newsletter, The Barn Door.

Mona is very interested in this barn type and its construction methods, and is eager to identify others like it.  If you know of a similar barn elsewhere in the country, please post a comment below to help her learn more!  

In 1850, the seven member John Squire Family were among thousands of immigrants who came to the United States in search of a better life. The ship manifest lists Frederick Squire at age 3 when he traveled to America. Frederick grew up in Iowa and Indiana and married Frances E. Dean in 1866. Like hundreds of others, the young couple bravely carved out land as homesteaders in Lulu Township, Mitchell County, Kansas in 1870. Frederick and Frances Squire fulfilled their homestead requirements including building a house, digging a well, plowing, planting crops and living off the land. In the end, they raised a family and became respected Mitchell County land owners who were responsible for the construction of a most remarkable barn in the fall of 1888.

Images of the Squire-Hennes Barn, Courtesy of Mona Hennes.  Author's Permission Required for Reprinting.

Images of the Squire-Hennes Barn, Courtesy of Mona Hennes. Author’s permission required for reprinting or re-use of this material.

Mr. Squire’s barn was 40′ by 58′ by 32′ high and built by Hamilton Lee Wiley, a contractor from Beloit, who partnered briefly with a carpenter named Eli Pfrimmer Newbanks.  A second generation American of French descent, Newbanks grew up in Corydon, Indiana, and came to Mitchell County, Kansas, with his wife’s family as a homesteader around 1871.  He was well educated in carpentry and architecture.

During his career, Newbanks worked on large construction projects including The Alpine Tunnel built for the D&RG Narrow Gauge railroad in Gunnison, Colorado.  He also worked on projects in Louisiana, Texas and Missouri.  For a short time (~1882 to 1886), after the untimely death of his wife Delilah, Eli Newbanks partnered with Hamilton Wiley in his Beloit Contracting Business. Their advertisement appeared weekly in the Beloit Gazette.

In 1884, Eli became the lead carpenter for an octagon barn, built in Scottsville KS, just nine miles north and east of the Squire-Hennes barn. This barn, built for C. W. Culp, owner of Eureka Stock Farm, was the pinnacle of local construction jobs. While the barn no longer exists, it had the same ogee roof design as the Squire-Hennes barn. Winning this contract was a huge plus for Hamilton Wiley’s business reputation. One year later, 1888, Hamilton Lee Wiley built the Squire-Hennes barn for Frederick F. Squire.

In 1893, twenty three years after he homesteaded his farm in Lulu Township, Frederick Squire moved to Beloit and left his 600+ acres of property to be farmed by others. He died suddenly of appendicitis in January of 1899 and was buried in Elmwood Cemetery in Beloit. His properties were divided among his children, with the home farm passing to his son, John.  When John Squire left Kansas around 1915, he rented the Squire farm to Caspar Hennes, my grandfather, who was living just one mile west.  Caspar Hennes (Grandfather), Fred Hennes (Dad,) and John Hennes (Uncle) farmed the property for the Squire family until ~1928, when Fred and John Hennes purchased some of the land, the farm house and buildings.

My Dad bought out the interest of his brother, John Hennes, around 1943.  My brother Jim Hennes farmed the land and cared for the barn until the mid-1970s. He tinned the barn’s roof which probably preserved the structure. My nephew, Mark Hennes, still farms land for the Records family. Howard Records, who lives in Arizona, is the great grandson of Dr. Thomas E. Records, husband of eldest daughter Lora E. Squire.

Mona Hennes' Plan and Depiction of the Barn's Interior.

Mona Hennes’ Plan and Depiction of the Barn’s Interior. Author’s permission required for any re-printing or re-use of this image.

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  1. Nice article. Well researched, well written. Great diagram.

  2. Information is power and now I’m a !@#$ing dictator.

  3. I think you’ve just captured the answer perfectly

  4. Hey hey hey, take a gander at what’ you’ve done