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Octagon-Shaped Barn - Paw Paw, IL
Posted by: Groundspeak Regular Member MountainWoods
N 41° 39.863 W 088° 55.944
16T E 339121 N 4614317
Quick Description: A huge, historic octagon barn in rural DeKalb County, Illinois
Location: Illinois, United States
Date Posted: 8/16/2014 3:07:07 PM
Waymark Code: WMM9AW
Published By: Groundspeak Regular Member Mark1962
Views: 0

Long Description:
When this poster lived in the area (for 13 years) the local Shabbona-Lee-Rollo Historical Society visited this barn with the owner showing us the inside. It is massive. The barn has an inside octagon core where the hay or other produce is stored, surrounded by a wagon-way that circles the core, surrounded by the outside walls of the barn. The owner stated that the original builder wanted to be able to have 10 horse-and-wagon rigs within those outer walls and encircling the core. At the time we visisted it (in the late 1990s) the roof had been partially reshingled. The owner stated that it cost so much to roof it that he could only afford to do two of the eight sides at a time. Of course, since then, the shingle replacement was completed. Another neat feature is the octagon cupola with windows. This is a real gem.

Here is a little history of this area: At one time there were three Paw Paws in this area: East Paw Paw in far southwestern DeKalb County; Paw Paw (now known as South Paw Paw), and Paw Paw Grove -- both in Lee County. When the railroad came through the latter in the 1870s, many folks moved to it, and they even brought some of the buildings. The word Grove was dropped from the name, necessitating a change to the original Paw Paw to be called South Paw Paw. It is hard to imagine that there used to be a seminary at East Paw Paw. Now all that is there is a cemetery and a few houses.

There is an irony here. Both DeKalb County and Lee County wanted to call the area Paw Paw Township, but they both agreed that that could cause confusion, being in two different counties. So they drew straws or flipped for it or something. DeKalb County won the toss and ended up with Paw Paw Township. At least it has the name. The folks from the Lee County side were stuck for a name. Many of them had come from the Wyoming Valley of Pennsylvania; so they decided to name the township Wyoming.

A lot of history of this area can be gleaned from historian Frank E. Stevens (edited by A. C. Bardwell) for Wyoming Township and Willow Creek Township just north of Wyoming Township. One might also learn a lot about day-to-day existence in this area during the 19th and early 20th century from bachelor farmer David Smith in his Recollections of David Smith, having come to this area with his family when he was 6 years old in 1837. His mother's brother, John Colville, emigrated with them, becoming a well-known businessman in Paw Paw (Grove). The aforementioned Frank E. Stevens has a nice biography of David Smith in 1914 -- nine years before Smith died.

Can you tell that this poster learned a bit of the local history in the 13 years that he lived here?

Building Address:
South Paw Paw Road
Paw Paw, IL USA

Is it open to the general public?: no

When was it built? (Approximate if you must.): 1/1/1908

What is the name of this building?: Octagon Barn

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MountainWoods visited Octagon-Shaped Barn - Paw Paw, IL 7/3/2014 MountainWoods visited it