Ohio History Journal

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Book Notes

Book Notes



Without Right Angles: The Round Barns of Iowa. By Lowell J. Soike. (Des

Moines: Iowa State Historical Department Office of Historic Preservation,

1983. viii + 103p.; illustrations, notes, index.) "Round barns," in Mr. Soike's

definition, were structures which could be truly round, octagonal, or in some

other polygonal form. He catalogs 160 round barns in Iowa, and traces the

general history of this aberrant but practical design for the past 200 years in

this well-researched and illustrated book. It is always encouraging to see a

competent reference work in fields such as architecture and agriculture that

have been widely romanticized in popular literature. Though round barns

probably have a much older history, such designs were advocated in Eng-

land in the eighteenth century for both rural cottages and barns. George

Washington built a 16-sided barn in 1793; and as late as 1927, round barns

were being advertised in Iowa. Mr. Soike charts the main period of the Iowa

round barn between 1860 and 1930, with the largest number constructed in

the early twentieth century. (The nineteenth century octagonal barn is not an

uncommon sight in Ohio; the truly round barn is, for some reason, less fre-

quently seen.) The convenience of a round barn in handling livestock was a

major selling point, particularly for dairy cattle in stalls facing a central feeding

area; most of these barns had a silo in the center. The increase in the number

of round barns between 1910-1920 would correspond with the rise of the

commercial milk industry.

Donald Hutslar



Indiana Stonecarver: The Story of Thomas R. Reding. By Ann Nolan and

Keith A. Buckley. (Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Society, 1984. v + 106p.;

illustrations, map and key to cemeteries, bibliography.) This small, well-

illustrated volume details the craft and life of an Indiana stonecarver whose

distinctive gravestones represent a vital link between the rigid severity of Pur-

itan ones and the undistinguished sentimentality of late nineteenth century

gravestones. Thomas Reding's intense and powerful work compares favora-

bly to the unexceptional stones worked by his contemporaries and, as a mas-

ter of a then-declining craft, he represents the last truly original carver in the

Jackson and Washington counties area. While limited in its appeal, Indiana

Stonecarver might serve those interested as a useful resource providing de-

tails on numerous Reding carvings and offering directions, maps, and keys to

specific cemeteries.

Laura Russell


Recollections: The People of the Blue Ridge Remember. By Dorothy Noble

Smith. (Verona, Virginia: McClure Printing Company, Inc., 1983. 82p.; illus-

trations, maps, notes, appendix, index.) and Wilderness Plots: Tales About

the Settlement of the American Land. By Scott R. Sanders. (New York:

William Morrow and Company, Inc., 1983. 128p.; illustrations.) These two