Built in 1901 by Henry Hoffman Trimble, the U-Barn remains one of Iowa’s largest standing barns. Built late in his life, the barn became a southeast Iowa landmark and will be discussed in the coming paragraphs, but his story is now little told in so a brief review of his contributions to the state and nation are in order.

Trimble was a native of Dearborn county Indiana who relocated to Davis County in 1850 with his law degree in hand. He was county attorney within six months of arrival, state senator in 1856, and “following service in the Civil war he was elected district court judge for the district which extended one hundred miles along the turbulent Missouri border. “ *In 1861 he was an organizer and made lieutenant colonel of the Third Iowa Cavalry. In March, 1862 he was severely wounded in the face and received medical discharge with his injury that would trouble him the rest of his life. He was a peer of Bloomfield’s General James B. Weaver and assisted in Weaver’s presidential nomination process. Later Trimble would receive the democratic nomination for supreme justice of Iowa, ran for U.S. congress, and in 1879 ran for governor on the democratic ticket. Following this he was at large delegate to the democratic national convention and assisted with nominations of Hancock and Grover Cleveland. While on the bench after the war, Trimble began building an extension of the old Northern Missouri (later Wabash) railroad line, serving as its president. He became an expert in railroad law and in 1878 became attorney for the Burlington Route carrying out duty until in death in 1911.

Owning farms in northern Missouri and southeast Iowa Trimble lived in Bloomfield and had his son-in-law Ott Wray, also a Bloomfield resident build the  U-barn for his interest in Aberdeen Angus cattle. His ownership lasted from 1901 to his death in 1911 and during that time railroad ran on the location of present Hwy. 2 through the farm. Rail passengers viewed the large sign stenciled in 24” letters “H.H. Trimble Herd of Aberdeen Angus Cattle” on the ends of the east and west wings. He retained twelve men to lead the breeding stock from their stalls to water each day in the barn’s court yard. Trimble chose the barn’s design from one of the country’s leaders in barn design during a period of rapidly changing hay storage methods. Joseph E. Wing, an Ohio State University professor of Champaign County, Ohio, designed the U-Barn itself.  He was then a well-known developer of ‘modern barn designs’.   Its floor plan and perspective sketches were published in a 1911 Chicago trade publication. Wing was also known as a developer of new varieties of alfalfa hay.

The haymow is said to have capacity for 450 tons of loose hay and was last filled in 1947 by Harold Baughman. Hayfork lift points were at each end of the east and west wings as well as the center driveway of the middle section.   The fork was lifted by rope pulled by a workhorse (last ones assigned were Prince and Bally) and by small tractors. Later chopped and baled hay filled the mow.

John and Urban Parker bought the property in 1911 and the Baughman’s in 1942. Both milked a herd of Brown Swiss dairy cattle. Gladys Baughman served as registration record keeper for these as well as up to 150 head of Angus. The milking stanchions still remain in the west wing.

* Obituary of Henry Hoffman Trimble, History of Lee County, Iowa

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