Sod House in Brown County, Nebraska

Grandma Myrtie was born in a sod house and her mother Ida Emily Higginson taught school in a sod schoolhouse. (See the section on Ida’s Teaching Certificates.)

Family in front of a sodhouse in Brown County, Nebraska. This is a general postcard in the family collection, so I do not know who the people are.

Sodhouses or Soddies
Some of the homes they made were called sod huts or sod shanties. They were actually made from the tough grass sod or buffalo grass that grew there on the prairie, the same as the sod schoolhouses.—Myrtie Crabtree Briggs

There was no wood or stone with which to build, so sod was peeled off the soil in rows and cut into blocks which were used like bricks. It took an acre of turf to build the average house.

Roofs were made of a lattice of willow poles, brush, long grass, a layer of clay from the nearest creek bank and a dressing of sod, grass side up. Heavy spring downpours would cause a roof to leak water like an overloaded sponge. Field mice were adept at tunneling through the walls and garter snakes generally followed along behind. Bedbugs and fleas were abundant.—Cal Bivens

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