Pioneer Families Homepage
Part of the Great Western Migration
Building a home on the prairie in an environment that did not include timber, the prairie pioneers had to find building materials other than lumber. Capitalizing on the tough network of grass roots firmly enmeshed in the soil, many pioneers built sod homes, or “soddies.” Blocks of turf were cut and laid like giant bricks to form walls. Logs or boards were used for room beams and rafters, which were covered with sticks, willows and sod. Windows and doors were usually mail-ordered or purchased in town. The sod homes proved to be cool in the hot summer and warm in the winter. Some whitewashed the interiors to lighten them up and also covered the outside to protect it from the weather which was hard on such structures. Many added wooden lean-tos to their sod houses as entry ways or as additional rooms. As soon as a farm family could afford it, they purchased lumber to build a frame house, thus leaving behind a part of the pioneer era.