Tag Archives: Fence history

History of Fence Laws

3 Oct

Ultra aluminum fenceWow, we found even more information that relates to the history of “fences” — if you missed our earlier posts in this series, check out “A Bit of History“.

Today’s history lesson is all about early fencing laws —  how things were done “waaaaay back when”, before the modern-day regulations were established to keep local communities safe when it comes to fencing in your yard or pool.  Read on history buffs!

History of Fence Laws:  In the United States, the earliest settlers claimed land by simply fencing it in.  Later, as the American government formed, unsettled land became technically owned by the government.  Programs to register land ownership developed, usually making raw land available for low prices or for free, if the owner improved the property, including the construction of fences.

Distinctly different land ownership and fencing patterns arose in the eastern and western United States.  Original fence laws on the east coast were based on the British common law system, and rapidly increasing population quickly resulted in laws requiring livestock to be fenced in.  In the west, land ownership patterns and policies reflected a strong influence of Spanish law and tradition, plus the vast land area involved made extensive fencing impractical until mandated by a growing population and conflicts between landowners.

The “open range” tradition of requiring landowners to fence out unwanted livestock was dominant in most of the rural west until very late in the 20th century, and even today, a few isolated regions of the west still have open range statutes on the books.  Today, across the nation, each state is free to develop its own laws regarding fences.  In most cases for both rural and urban property owners, the laws are designed to require adjacent landowners to share the responsibility for maintaining a common boundary fenceline, and the fence is generally constructed on the surveyed property line as precisely as possible.

PRIV domeSolidOur staff is knowledgeable in today’s fencing laws, otherwise known as local township codes, and can help direct you to the proper authorities to ensure your fence project is OK.  (You’ll want to double check with your township BEFORE installing fence.)

Related Posts:
A Bit of History,   Even More Fence HistoryA Bit More History

Related Links:   About Fence City

A Bit More History

22 Sep

Fix GateAs we mentioned in earlier posts, we found an obscure blog site featuring the “history” of fences.  Part One was “A Bit of History“; Part Two was “Even More History” which featured a humorous look at the many meanings of the word “Fence”.  Now it’s time to share a bit more of that information … this portion focuses on the early American settlers.  Interesting!

Private property.  An English observer of farming once said “Give a man the secure possession of a bleak rock, and he will turn it into a garden. Give him a nine years’ lease of a garden and he will convert it into a desert.”  Ownership is different from leasing, and such thinking has, in many ways, defined several societies.

Further, in 7th century England, the King of Wessex added a new function for the fence … the business of protecting crops from cattle, and the land-owner’s responsibilities.  He proclaimed that a homestead must be fenced winter and summer.  If it is not fenced and his neighbor’s cattle get in through his own gap, he has no right to anything from that cattle; he is to drive it out and suffer the damage.

Now, getting back to America, several interesting historical notes.  First, visitors to Jamestown, Virginia in the early 1600s were amazed to see a style fence they had never seen before… a worm fence… logs just laid atop others at an angle eliminating the need for posts of any kind.  It was, of course, something to do with the spare logs yielded when clearing the land, but it was unique.  And then, John Winthrop, the first governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, justified his enclosure policy saying: “That which lies common, and hath never beene replenished or subdued, is free to any that possess and improve it.”

That idea (though hardly uniquely American) — if it’s unoccupied, it’s free to anyone who will improve it — had enormous implications in the settling of the American west.  In the 1880s, a war of fences flared as settlers arrived in 11 western states between the 100th meridian and the Rockies, only to find that rangers had fenced off huge pasture terrains.  They, the settlers, discovered they could not buy and farm the land, even if it was suitable (water, soil) for farming.  It also affected the migrating Indians who followed the buffalo, the cattle drives of the Texans driving their steers to Kansas markets, sheep vs. cattle people as it influenced water, railroaders whose tracks crossed the cattle ranging, and other settlers in the west.  These “range wars,” roughly from 1875 to 1895 or so, define the Hollywood movie genre of “the western.”

The conflict between the rangers, the cattle drivers, the farmers and the Indians coincided with the boom of barbed wire, invented in 1873 and thriving as a cheap and efficient tool for enclosure.  The range wars were often cited as “fence-cutters war” and it greatly affected the development of those 11 states.

GATE walkwayIf you missed either of our previous posts on the “History of Fence”, be sure to check out the links provided here and get caught up!

Related Posts:
A Bit of History,
Even More Fence History,
And Liberty for All

Related Links:    A source of modern-day fences

Today’s blog post source:   Fence History

A Gate by any other Name

31 Jul


3rail_butterflies_pupHave you ever wondered what the meaning of common words might be?  We recently researched the Meaning of Fence, and today, “just for fun”, we looked up the definition of the word “gate“.  Of course, most of the meanings behind the word revolve around the protective entrance structures we know and love here at Fence City.  And fortunately, there are many styles, colors, shapes and sizes of gates out there that are much more visually becoming and interesting than the word’s stuffy dictionary definition.  (Somehow we were hoping for something more exciting … #3 is about as close to exciting as it gets.) 🙂

Large Homegate

[geyt] /geɪt/
1. a movable barrier, usually on hinges, closing an opening in a fence, wall, or other enclosure.
2. an opening permitting passage through an enclosure.
3. a tower, architectural setting, etc., for defending or adorning such an opening or for providing a monumental entrance to a street, park, etc.:  the gates of the walled city; the palace gate.
4. any means of access or entrance:  The gate to stardom is talent.
5. a mountain pass.
6. any movable barrier, as at a tollbooth or a road or railroad crossing.
7. a gateway or passageway in a passenger terminal or pier that leads to a place for boarding a train, plane, or ship.

Ultra Aluminum fence


If you like reading and learning more about words or history, check out some of our other articles such as the Meaning of Fence or A Bit of History.  If you’re more of a visual person, you’ll love our two series on Enchanting Gates and Crafty Fences.

Related Posts:   Fences: the new Craft Medium,   What is a Cantilever Gate?

Related Links:   Entrance Gates,   Fence & Gate experts


Artful and Enchanting Gates

16 Jul

“Gates” certainly seem to be our theme lately!  And with such artful and creative ironwork and landscaping, how could we not share more photos of these enchanting portals?

GATE_enchant9GATE_enchant8GATE_enchant6A few weeks ago we shared a post with our first batch of “Enchanting Gates” images; which was followed up a little while ago with “More Enchanting Gates“.  If you’re loving today’s imagery, be sure to check these two archived posts — they won’t disappoint!

GATE_enchant7The daring that people have to “break from the norm” is fun to look at, and the creativity of the craftsmen who make these daring dreams come true is quite impressive too!

As we’ve mentioned before, if your neighborhood, home style, or budget just won’t allow for such outlandish definitions of your property boundaries, we hope you will contact Fence City.

Ultra_PoolGateWe can answer your questions regarding township regulations, fence styles and sizes, and of course, the appropriate gate to suit your needs.  Feel free to browse our online store, or give us a call at (215) 362-8200.  We look forward to hearing from you — and hope you continue to follow and enjoy our blog!

GATE_enchant3Related Posts:   Enchanting Gates,   More Enchanting Gates,   Driveway Gates

Related Links:   Entrance Gates,   Online Gate store


Dog-eared: Not always a bad thing!

30 Jun

Floyd n BruteyWhen you think of the term “dog-eared”, you might envision the family pet Fido, but most likely you will relate it to the ratty condition of a book:

“A dog ear is a phrase that refers to the folded down corner of a book page. The name arises from the fact that wolves’ ears stand erect while the ears of many breeds of dog flop over.  A dog ear can serve as a bookmark.  While generally frowned upon by those that want to preserve books in their original condition, it is particularly common in use on paperbacks which are designed to be cheaper and more harshly used than hardcovers. Sometimes, it is also used to keep sheets of paper together, in the absence of a stapler or paper clip.  The phrase dates back at least to the late 18th century.”

Picket DogEarBut when WE refer to “dog-eared”, it is a quaint style of fencing, often used in wooden fences, but also available in PVC Vinyl.  Dog-ear fences are popular choices in privacy fencing, and also as a rustic-looking, country-style picket fence.

PVC Gothic capsSo although a dog-eared book will get you in trouble with the local librarian, your neighbors and friends can well appreciate how nice your property looks with a dog-eared fence!  And so ends today’s lesson; however if you enjoy learning more word definitions or reading obscure tidbits of fence history, check out the links to some of our other posts below!

PicketSpace72If this style of fence appeals to you, by all means, get in contact with us for a free estimate — we provide professional installation and sell product for do-it-yourselfers.  (Montgomeryville PA)  215-362-8200

Related Posts:   The Meaning of Fence,   A Bit of Fence History

Related Links:  Wooden Fence Choices,   Aluminum: noun & fence


The Meaning of Fence

28 May

Fencing Comic2Just for curiosity sake, we looked up the definition of the word “fence”.  Of course, most of the meanings behind the word revolve around the protective structures we know and love here at Fence City.  But we really have to wonder how, over the many years of time, did the word ever take on meanings that relate to stolen goods?  And, like the chicken-or-the-egg-which-came-first debate, we wonder if our definition of fence came before or after that of fighting with swords? 🙂

noun:  fence; plural noun:  fences
  1. a barrier, railing, or other upright structure, typically of wood or wire, enclosing an area of ground to mark a boundary, control access, or prevent escape.
    synonyms:  barrier, fencing, enclosure, barricade, stockade, palisade, fenceline, railing
    • a large upright obstacle used in equestrian jumping events.
  2. a guard or guide on a plane, saw, or other tool.
  3. informal:  a person who deals in stolen goods.
    synonyms:  receiver of stolen goods, dealer.  “a fence dealing mainly in jewelry”
FENCE_PVCfancyverb: fence; 3rd person present: fences; past tense: fenced; past participle: fenced; gerund or present participle: fencing
  1. surround or protect with a fence.
    “our garden was not fully fenced”
    synonyms:  enclose, surround, circumscribe, encircle, circle, encompass
    • enclose or separate with a fence for protection or to prevent escape.
      “everything is fenced in to keep out the wolves”
      synonyms:  confine, pen in, coop up, shut in, separate off, corral
      “he fenced in his chickens”
    • use a barrier to exclude someone or something.
      “Idaho law requires people to fence out cows”
  2. informal:  deal in (stolen goods).
    “after stealing your ring, he didn’t even know how to fence it”
  3. fight with swords, especially as a sport.
    1. conduct a discussion or argument in such a way as to avoid the direct mention of something.
      “we were fencing, not talking about the subject we’d come to talk about”

Finding out the history behind or meaning of everyday items can be interesting — hopefully you find it so today!  If you did, then feel free to check out some of our other articles (listed below).  And, when you’re looking to pawn your grandmother’s family heirloom, don’t call us — but if your neighbor is looking to replace that tumble-down privacy fence that’s bothered you for years, we hope you will send him our way!

LOGO patrioticFence City
619 Bethlehem Pike, Montgomeryville PA 18936
www.fencecity.com    215-362-8200

Related Posts:   A Bit of Fence History,   Fence Law History,   Even More Fence History

Related Links:   Local Township Fence Codes,   About Fence City


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