Davidsville, Pa. — A traditional Amish barn-raising on Friday in Conemaugh Township, Somerset County, continues a legacy dating back two centuries.
Scores of Amish laborers arrived by bus early Friday morning and spent the day constructing a barn on the Bill and Jeanette Hunsberger farm outside Davidsville.
Beginning with only a foundation Friday morning, the workers completed the entire structure, roof and about two-thirds of the siding by nightfall. Jeanette Hunsberger said the workers will be back to finish the siding.
The barn is being raised on the site where another barn burned in April 2020. That barn was built by Joseph Johns III, grandson of Joseph Johns, the German-Swiss-Amish founder of Johnstown.
Johns, who was born Joseph Schantz, moved to the Davidsville farm in 1807 after founding Johnstown in 1800, the Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online says.
“Johns, like other Amish men, moved away from the growing town to a farm nine miles south,” the encyclopedia says.
Hunsberger said the farm remained in the Johns family for six generations.
As Mennonites, the Hunsberger family strives to honor the property’s history. In addition, they were inspired by the local community’s outpouring of financial support following the fire.
“After we had the fire, we thought about what we could do to replace it and carry on the heritage and the community,” she said.
Through the family’s connections with the Amish community, plans for a barn raising began to form. They found Ray Yoder, an Amish contractor, to draw the plans and organize the work crew.
“While we cannot replace what we’ve lost, the community spirit of an Amish barn-raising is symbolic of what we felt as our community joined together to support us after the fire,” the Hunsberger family said in a flyer being distributed Friday.
The flyer goes on to explain that the Amish workers were donating their time, but the Hunsbergers pay wages for all the workers into the community’s fund. That fund is used to support families’ needs.
The barn-raising also highlights the Amish roots of the Hunsberger farm and the barn being replaced.
“I think it’s cool,” Bill Hunsberger said. “The Amish built the first one. It burned down and the Amish built the second one.”
— Randy Griffith is a multimedia reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at 532-5057. Follow him on Twitter @PhotoGriffer57.