A Bee in the Fence?

In reviewing material from a Civil War pension file, I came across a deposition that partially confused me–initially.

Ira Boyd is making testimony in October of 1918 in the pension application of Emmar Osenbaugh. He has been asked how he came to know Osenbaugh and her husband, John. He states, in part:
“I came to Iowa about 50 year ago and soon after I came here I became acquainted with John Osenbaugh. The way I got acquainted with him was in the spring of 1869 when we were moving a partition fence for a man named Nathan Dix. Dix made a “bee” to move the fence and Osenbaugh was in the bee.”
The “bee” was a neighborhood effort to move the fence.  It took a second for me to connect the dots and see what the bee was.
It probably took them longer to move the fence. There might have been bees in the fence, but that’s another story.
It’s important not to jump to conclusions; to remember that the meaning of words and phrases can change over time; and that one word can have different meanings simultaneously–it’s always important to remember context matters.
John Osenbaugh served in Company H of the 7th Illinois Infantry. He would have been living in Iowa in 1869.
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