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I like history. I like the study of history and the reading of history; all aspects. Through my years of reading, visiting historical sites, scrounging through musty papers and conversations, one aspect of this wonderful hobby has been the various dwellings our ancestors used; they fascinate me.
I have been hung up on barns for years and will travel hundreds of miles just to gaze at, examine, photograph and poke around in old barns. Barns in America more or less follow the traditional architecture of Europeans. Log houses are most clearly brought to us by the Scandinavians. Our magnificent buildings of stone and brick come from Italy and more recently from our uptight Victorian forefathers. But there is one type of house or dwelling that is purely American...the sod house. Admittedly, we sort of borrowed here and there from the Native Americans, but nowhere else was and has sod been used more ingeniously than in this country.
The work being reviewed here was first published in 1968 (that is the version I am reviewing here) and is based largely on historical records held by the Nebraska Historical Society. The many photographs in this work come from the collection of Soloman Devoe Butcher...a truly driven man. Other than actually going to the archives of the Nebraska Historical Society, it would be difficult to come up with a better collection of actual photographs of sod buildings than we find in this work.
This book traces the development of the sod house from the time before white Europeans entered the area which we now know as Nebraska, Iowa and the Dakotas. I love the line which introduces chapter two of this study..."Made without mortar, square, plumb or greenbacks." That pretty well says it all.