Sod House Was Way of Life for Hoxie, Kansas Settlers

Mary Dickinson's family, plains settlers, ended up in a sod house nine miles south of Hoxie, Kansas.

| Good Old Days

My two older brothers came first, in 1899, with my uncle to his homestead in Sheridan County, Kansas, and in January of 1900 my father followed. He loaded a railroad car with livestock and machinery and left his home in Adair County, Iowa. When he had built a nice sod house on his homestead, a 160-acre farm nine miles south of Hoxie, Kansas, Mother and the four younger children came by train to Selden, Kansas, where he met us and took us to our new home. I was six months old.

I will try to describe the house Father built. It was made of sod and had three rooms with a pantry off the kitchen. Our kitchen had two windows, one on the west and one on the south, and on the east Father hung the outside door with a four-pane window in it. Mother had a nice coal range, a long drop leaf table, a cupboard with a glass door, a jelly cupboard with a screen door, and at the west window a big Morris chair.

Our kitchen, pantry, and bedroom had wooden floors, but our middle room had a dirt floor. It was spread with straw and covered with paper, and over that she laid a rag carpet tacked to l-by-4s fitted around the walls. The carpet was taken up every spring, put on the clothesline, and beat to get all the dust out. Then new straw and papers were put down and the carpet was re-laid.

The middle room had a window on the east wall and a double window on the west, and Mother had beautiful plants in all the windows. My folks slept in this room. Besides the bed, the room held Mother's dresser, an organ, two rocking chairs, and a little table. In the winter a two-lid topsy stove sat in the middle of the room; Mother did lots of cooking on it to save fuel.

The bedroom was divided by a rug tacked to make a "wall" thru the middle. My brothers slept on one side, we girls on the other. There were no closets, and all our clothes hung on the walls.

The barn was dug in a bank and faced the south so that end was made of lumber. The north side was built up about three feet higher than ground level, and big doors on leather hinges covered the openings there where hay was dropped to the horses. There were stalls for about 12 horses.

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