Humble Beginnings


This is a picture of my grandfather after he'd finished (except for the door) his homestead shack. He used washers around his nails--others used strips of wooden lath. These kept the wind from ripping the tarpaper off the building. It has the required one door and one window.

Also required was a well (with water!) which was a big issue on the plains. One man dug eight dry wells before giving up and going back east.

Although shanties were considered temporary dwellings until they built a better house, some families lived in them for years. Average sizes were eight by ten feet or ten by twelve feet. Lumber had to be hauled out from thirteen miles away, from Stanley, so anything bigger was not practical. One homesteader dragged his lumber by hand, piece by piece, for the roof. Many started their homestead with soddies, sod buildings, or a dugout if there was a hill to carve into.


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