Early Iowa Homestead Lacked Excess Firewood

Iowa homestead families struggled to find wood for fuel.

| Good Old Days

Wood was scarce on the open prairie of the early Iowa homestead, and land speculators would buy the timber lands along the rivers so sod busters would have no source of wood to bum. When the settlers couldn't get fuel for winter, they would have to sell their farms cheap.

Many of the speculators lived out of state, so local men would go to Rock Creek, on the border between Floyd and Mitchel counties, and cut wood. If they were caught, they claimed they were cutting wood on Section 37-but there are only 36 sections in a township.

One such speculator hired a horse and a cutter to inspect his property in the dead of winter. He was hailed by a man with a team and wagon, who needed help with logs too heavy for one man to lift. The next spring when the owner checked the surveyor's stakes, he found he had helped load his own logs.

The corner schoolhouse was often heated with wood from Section 37.

The main wood on the prairie was hazel brush and water willows, neither large enough for fuel.

One winter at Bishop Knoll, a farm which has been in my family since 1874, the cattle shed was brought into the house for fuel, a couple of boards at a time.

Mother Earth News Fair Schedule 2019


Next: February 16-17, 2019
Belton, TX

Whether you want to learn how to grow and raise your own food, build your own root cellar, or create a green dream home, come out and learn everything you need to know — and then some!


Subscribe today

Capper's FarmerWant to rediscover what made grandma’s house the fun place we all remember? Capper’s Farmer — the newly restored publication from the rural know-how experts at Grit.com — updates the tried-and-true methods your grandparents used for cooking, crafting, gardening and so much more. Subscribe today and discover the joys of homemade living and homesteading insight — with a dash of modern living — that makes up the new Capper’s Farmer.

Save Even More Money with our automatic renewal savings plan!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our automatic renewal savings plan. You save an additional $6 and get 4 issues of Capper's Farmer for only $16.95 (USA only).

Or, Bill Me Later and I'll pay just $22.95 for a one year subscription!

Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter

Free Product Information Classifieds