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Dial barn remains in use for more than a century

LAKE CITY — When Hugh Sharkey built a new barn around 1904-05 on his farm northeast of Lake City, he probably never imagined it would remain in continuous use for more than 100 years.

“The barn was in good shape when my late wife, Jane, and I moved here in the fall of 1977,” said Dwight Dial, who has owned the barn since 1986. “I still use the barn for lambing and for housing ewes in the winter.”

The Calhoun Township building site was originally settled in 1900 by Hugh and Mattie Clark Sharkey as part of an 80-acre farm. Hugh built the 18-foot by 36-foot wooden post-and-beam barn to hold horses and hay. Later, sides were added on the north, south and west sides to increase the barn’s size to 38 feet by 46 feet–the barn’s current dimensions. These additions allowed Hugh to add a milking parlor on the south (complete with concrete floors), box stalls for work horses on the north, and an area for free-roaming cows on the west. Hugh later added concrete floors to the north and west additions.

In the 1930s, the farm was sold to W.E. Scott, a former hog buyer who was a banker and later served as the county supervisor for Calhoun County. In the late 1930s, Scott added two more 80-acre parcels of land to the farm, which was rented to a succession of tenants during the next 40 years. The barn was used for horses, cattle and dairy until the late 1960s, when it was converted to house cattle and hogs.

In 1977, the center of the barn was concreted, a hay loft was added and the dairy parlor was removed to make way for more hogs. The area of the barn that was once used for horses became a boar/breeding area, and sows were gestated/farrowed in other parts of the barn. After new hog buildings were added to the farmstead in 1979, the barn was used solely for the breeding and gestation of swine.

The barn has continued its transformation in recent years. In 1997, the wooden shingle roof was replaced with metal sheeting.

“That was the same year I quit using the barn for hogs,” said Dial, who now uses the barn exclusively for sheep.

Barn quilt adds patriotic touch

To protect the barn from the elements, the sides were covered with white metal sheeting in the summer of 2009. Around this time, the Dials decided to dress up the barn with a patriotic “Army Star” barn quilt that they constructed and painted.

“The design came from a contest by the Kansas City Star newspaper, and it was submitted by two soldiers who were in an Army training camp in 1943,” said Dial, whose family purchased the directions for constructing the barn quilt from the Barn Quilts of Sac County organization. “The barn quilt is meaningful to our family, because our two sons, Ethan and Andy, have served as officers in the U.S. Army, plus they put up a lot of hay in the barn when they were growing up.”

The sturdy barn remains a hub of the farm.

“It has been a working barn all its life,” Dial said.

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