a3Genealogy - Accurate, Accessible Answers - specializes in military, naturalization records, Native American and African American ancestry. The a3Gen blog is penned by Kathleen Brandt, an international genealogy consultant, speaker and writer. a3Gen clients span from Europe, Asia and Africa to the Americas.
Sod was the one plentiful resource of Kansas which made undesirable sod houses affordable and a perfect match for a “starter” home for the new pioneers. All you needed to construct one of these insulated abodes was densely rooted grass.
By the time the White’s migrated to Kansas from Missouri and built their sod home, the “grasshopper” plow had been developed (aft 1880). The grasshopper plow would lift four inch bricks of sod utilizing as much roots as possible, and cut them into one foot wide strips of sod as seen in the “crude” sod house that yet appeard to have uniformed sized blocks of sod.
Although this sod house did not have windows, some were made using a wooden frame, but lumber was expensive in the plains and was reserved for the door. The cool dirt floors attracted rodents and snakes, and the ceilings, if made of sod, were not efficient in rainstorms, due to constant leakage.
On the other hand, the sod houses were wind and fireproof and well insulated, keeping the home cool in the summer and warm in the winter. If more heat was needed, buffalo chips (preferred) were often used to stoke the fire.
This was the life of the homesteader.
Kathleen Brandt, Professional Genealogist