My dad, on the left, with his two brothers.  Such handsome boys!

My dad, on the left, with his two brothers.  Such handsome boys!

Hex Signs on Barns

By: Bev Stayart

My travels have taken me to Europe, Japan and Mexico, and also to rustic back roads in the United States.  Some of the most beautiful scenery in the country can be found in these out of the way places.  The large, graphic and colorful “hex” signs displayed on the sides of many rural barns are an especially charming feature of rural America.  The origin of hex signs dates to the arrival of German immigrants in southeastern Pennsylvania over 300 years ago.  These people eventually became known as the “Pennsylvania Dutch.”  The Pennsylvania Dutch did not bring this tradition from Europe, as hex signs were relatively rare in Old World Europe.  Neither were hex signs associated with Anabaptist groups, such as the Amish and the Mennonites.  Rather, these European immigrants were a diverse group of people representing many religious denominations who sought freedom to practice their beliefs in the New World.

The word “hex” has two possible origins.  One explanation is that, in German, the word “hexen” means “witch.”  Another theory is that the six-pointed star designs, called “sechs,” which were popular with the new immigrants, sounded like “hex” to the surrounding English-speaking community.

As these German immigrants continued to push westward, hex signs began to appear on barns throughout the Midwest.  But barns were not the only structures displaying hex signs.  Hex signs were also painted on houses, covered bridges and furniture.

The meaning of these signs to the people who painted them is unclear.  Two schools of thought exist.  One explanation is that the signs held talismanic, or magical, attributes which could bring good luck, happiness, abundance, friendship, love and protection to one’s family.  A contrasting interpretation is that the signs were purely decorative in nature, exhibiting no talismanic or magical purpose.  This theory suggests that the signs provided cheerful distractions to the plain surroundings of rural landscapes, especially during long winters.

One element of the signs that is not in dispute is the immense variety of the painted images.  Designs included doves, goldfinches, birds of paradise, rosettes, circles, eagles, hearts, wheat, tulips, ocean waves, stars, oak leaves, and a myriad of other subjects.  Typical colors included intense shades of red, blue, white, green, orange, black, yellow, brown and violet.  Historic and beautiful hex signs can still be seen today on barns, houses and covered bridges throughout rural America. 

Prevent the Aerial Shooting of Wolves

Bev Stayart supports many animal-related causes, including the protection of baby seals and efforts to stop horse slaughter throughout Mexico and Canada. In particular, Bev Stayart remains opposed to the aerial shooting of wolves, which occurs at an alarming rate in the western United States. As a result, wolf populations continue to decline in areas where such shooting is allowed. The following facts offer important information concerning the aerial shooting of wolves in the western United States and reasons why this practice should be illegal.

1.  Killing wolves greatly disrupts the ecological balance, as does the killing of any major part of a natural food chain.

2.  Other methods such as sedation and removal can easily be practiced if there are legitimate concerns regarding livestock or safety.

3.  Since shooting from a plane is a difficult task, hunters often do not kill a wolf with the first shot. As a result, the wolf’s death is a slow and painful one.

4.  Wolves are magnificent and smart creatures that are able to communicate in many different ways. They use postures, rituals, and scent to interact with each other.

5.  According to scientific research, the gray wolf is the dog’s exclusive ancestor. In fact, these animals became our pets over 15,000 years ago and truly represent the “original” dog.

6.  When someone kills a wolf, he or she might be killing the mother of helpless pups who will not survive without her. This, in turn, kills more than one wolf with a single bullet.

7.  Killing wolves is, at its core, an ethical atrocity. Wolves are defenseless against ammunition from the sky and cannot escape.

Genealogy research of Stephens, Rogers, Fitzgerald ancestors

Beverly Stayart is interested in genealogical research.  One of Beverly Stayart’s ancestors, James Bowles Stephens, founded East Portland, Oregon, which later merged with West Portland.  Beverly Stayart is also interested in researching the Civil War, because her great-grandfather, Thomas Fitzgerald, was a Union soldier who fought in the Battle of Shiloh, Tennessee, and the Battle of Corinth, Mississippi, among other notable battles.  Wounded twice, he survived the war and later returned to the Midwest where he married Hester Ann Rogers.  Learn more about Beverly Stayart and her genealogical research at

"I have not yet begun to fight."

About Beverly Stayart!

For nearly two decades, Beverly Stayart has served as CFO and Director of Business Development for Stayart Law Offices, an Elkhorn, Wisconsin, law firm. Beverly Stayart coordinates all legal research and evidentiary discovery for Stayart Law Offices, in addition to meeting with clients and other attorneys. Beverly Stayart earned her undergraduate degree in English Literature from the University of Iowa. Beverly Stayart subsequently received her M.B.A. from the University of Chicago, majoring in finance and marketing. In her spare time, Beverly Stayart enjoys hiking, bicycling, billiards, wildlife watching, swimming, and travel. Beverly Stayart enjoys reading, particularly the poetry of Edna St. Vincent Millay, Sara Teasdale, Edgar Allan Poe, and Robert Frost. Beverly Stayart also enjoys the works of English writers William Shakespeare, Matthew Arnold, and Alfred Lord Tennyson. Beverly Stayart is an experienced genealogist with a special interest in Native American ancestry. Beverly Stayart enjoys researching Native American history and culture. Beverly Stayart contributes to the community by supporting St. Joseph’s Indian School, which benefits Lakota children of South Dakota through education and preservation of Native American culture. Beverly Stayart is interested in animal welfare. Beverly Stayart supports the Humane Society of the United States. Beverly Stayart is actively involved in preserving the wild horse population of the western states and preventing the aerial shooting of wolves.  Learn more at