by Julie Engel Schertz
In his book, CHRISTIAN ENGEL AND HIS
FAMILY, Val Swartzendruber describes the picture shown here of the
log barn that once stood Ĺ mile west of Metamora on the Engel
homestead. The barn was built by John Engel (1801-1888), and his
half brother Peter Engel (1794-1875). They arrived from the
Alsace/Lorraine area of France in 1830 and 1831, and were followed
by other family members in 1833, including their father Christian
Engel (ca. 1765-1838), who was an Amish-Mennonite Bishop.
Shortly after their arrival, they
acquired the farm that is still known as the Engel farm. Eight
generations descended from Christian Engel have lived on the farm.
The farm has been part of the family for more than 170 years.
The drawing of the log barn was made
about 1891 by artist and engraver Jacob Faber, who created the art
work for the OLD GRAND DAD WHISKEY label and advertisement that
appeared on the bottle and in magazines for many years. Jacob Faber
married Amelia Engel, the daughter of Peter R. Engel (1822-1888).
The Peter R. Engel house still stands today on the site where it was
built. A school house was located on the Engel farm just west of
Peter R. Engelís house. Amelia Engel taught school here in the
The son of Jacob Faber was Art Faber,
and he told the following story to Jess A. Leman, who wrote the
following in August 1978. In the back of the log barn was a thick
wooden area, where there still lived very primitively a family of
Indians. These Indians would occasionally appear, wanting to use and
marvel at the white manís modern tools. They often made use of the
grindstone to sharpen their crude hunting knives, tomahawks, etc.
Upon closer examination of Faberís
rendition o the log barn one can see most everything was hand made.
Note the hewn out log for a chicken trough, the wooden pegs on the
side of the barn for harness hooks, and the rickety old cart without
wheels. When Leman commented about the strange cart without wheels,
Fabel replied "wheels were expensive and rare in those days,
and the carts were made interchangeable. No doubt someone had
borrowed the wheels when the log barn picture was drawn."
This same log barn was sometimes
pressed into service and used for services of religious worship. On
Sunday, July 1, 1866, Henry Geistlich is quoted "today there
was church here by Brother Peter Engel. A barn was our place for
assembling, there being a large number of people assembled. In the
forenoon there were 53 horse drawn rigs in the yard, and in the
afternoon still more."
Planks were laid across logs to serve
as benches. Chickens would wander in, but if they became noisy
someone would quietly shoo them out. C. Henry Smith (1875-1948) in
his book MENNONITE COUNTRY BOY, recalls as a small boy driving west
of Metamora in a horse drawn conveyance, looking to the south and
seeing the Engel log barn.