Letters From Immigrants

  • About Housing:

    Housing "Their first home was a hole about 12 feet square, boarded over. When it rained they all crawled into the hole, sharing it with calves and the family dogs.""Our house was a family project. It was built of stone and gumbo built partly in a sidehill. Dad and Mother did the masonry while Marion and Joe hauled rocks from a nearby stone hill on the rented quarter. Wanda carried the water and I did the mixing of the gumbo with my bare feet for the smoothness and right consistency of clay. When the house was completed we had two rooms on the ground floor and two rooms upstairs under the roof. A great convenience was a drilled well in the kitchen. As the years went by a wooden floor was put in, and a screened-in porch across the front of the house."

    "Well, Carrie, if you could step inside our house for a few moments you wouldn't think we were roughing it. You would think it a millionaire's cozy corner. From the outside it looks like a sod house , I must admit. The house is 17x23 built of the best sod three feet thick at the bottom and two feet thick at the top. Inside it has pegs drove in the wall and strips nailed on and a heavy blue cardboard nailed on it. The roof is covered with one layer of thin sod and then a coat of clay one inch thick to shed the water.

    About Doctoring:

    "How to cure pneumonia. Put 20 ears of corn into a boiler, boil half an hour, wrap in 5 large towels with four ears in a towel. Put an ear in end of towel, wrap next ear, until you have a pack. Put one pack at feet, two at hips, one under each arm. Cover patient up to neck. Stay by bed and hold covers up if necessary."

    About Schooling:

    school "There was no schoolhouse the first year, and as my shack was the better shape for that purpose, 14x8 feet, classes were held there in the daytime and I slept there at night. My bed was a spring fastened on the wall with hinges so it could be let down at night and pressed up against the wall in the daytime to make more room. My furniture had to be moved outside during school hours so there would be room for the homemade desks. The children sat two or three at each desk."