vrijdag 4 januari 2013

Pioneers in a sod house.

 
This is a post for Sepia Saturday 158.
The hut of the Scottish soldiers made me think of a sod house as shown on my postcard. I’ve bought the postcard more than 5 years ago, but the photo must be taken in the fifties.
1960a Pioneers in a Barger-Compascuum

A sod or spit shack is a simple hut covered with heather sods. They were found in the poorest areas of the Netherlands, especially in Drenthe, Friesland and Overijssel, and were inhabited by the poorest workers, often with large families.
A sod house was a simple structure, usually partially excavated and without side walls: the roof began at ground level. The roof was covered with sods from the surrounding fields.
Sod huts were often in peat extraction areas. There was an unwritten rule that a new house should remain as it was built between sunset and sunrise, the fireplace was made and the chimney smoked in the morning.
The living conditions were harsh. By construction the house was badly to heat. It was damp and crawling with vermin. Residents of turf huts were not old. The Housing Act in 1901 forbade living in sod huts. Replacement homes were only offered limited. In a village like Barger-Compascuum it lasted well into the sixties before the last sod huts were demolished. Some sod huts were rebuilt in the Veenpark, where we visited in 2007.
 
1960b Pioneers in a Barger-Compascuum
Veenpark is a Dutch Open Air Museum near the Drenthe village Barger-Compascuum in the municipality of Emmen. The museum was founded in the year 1966.
Source Wikipedia (Dutch only).
 
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15 opmerkingen:

Wendy zei

Pioneers often lived in sod houses in the early years of the United States, too. I hadn't thought about how such houses would be conducive to vermin. Eek! I would not have made a happy pioneer.

Happy New Year, Prenter!

Karen S. zei

A most wonderful post. We have a few cities south of me, that have sod houses still today. You can even rent one for the night!

Kristin zei

That vermin part does not sound good. I guess they were damp because they were dug out of the ground.

Brett Payne zei

Now I wonder if my own ancestors from Friesland lived in one of those sid huts. They do not sound very comfortable.

Bob Scotney zei

There are still houses with thatched roofs in the UK, but they aren't the same thing as your sod house. I have seen houses in Norway with grass instead of tiles on the roof.

ScotSue zei

I have learnt something, as I had not heard of the term "sod house" before, though I am sure there was simiilar poor housing in Britain.

Postcardy zei

They had sod houses in the U.S. when the prairies were being homesteaded. I think they were probably drier and cozier.

Alan Burnett zei

Another fascinating insight into times gone by. To join in the debate about vermin, I had always believed that thatched roofs would be heaven to vermin, but I am told this isn't the case.

Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy zei

So interesting, Prenter. As Wendy said, there were sod homes built into the banks along creeks (Laura Ingalls Wilder tells us about her sod home in On the Banks of Plumb Creek).

Looking at the one in your postcard, I keep thinking how easy it would be to have that roof catch on fire. Those glass windows somehow look out of place, though I don't know why.

Interesting that they outlawed these homes but didn't offer up the poor folks who lived there an option. Was it because the sod homes were so awful or because they didn't want the poor to live in their towns?

Kathy M.

Tattered and Lost zei

Indeed it reminds me of the sod houses pioneers built here in the US and what some Native American tribes built, though yours is actually much fancier in appearance. I cannot imagine living in such a place.

Prenter zei

Me neither, Wendy! What would we do without our vacuum cleaner?

Thank you, Karen. The people of 100 years ago would have been very jealous for the modern turf huts.

You are right, Kristin. There was no foundation to keep the floor dry.

Prenter zei

Don’t worry, Brett. Friesland consists mostly of rich farmland. Plus: there was no system of oppression in the small part with peat land. Sod huts were only in the large peat areas, for the most in the province of Drenthe.

You are right, Bob. Thatched roofs are completely different from roofs of heather sods. Thatched roofs insulates much better. It holds heat well in the winter, and in summer keeps the heat just outside.

Thank you, ScotSue. Britain has similar areas, like heather moorland, but I don’t know anything about the houses.

Prenter zei

I think so, Postcardy. It all depends on the soil, being wet peat or not.

I’m glad the time of sod houses has gone by, Alan. I think the vermin was attracted by the moist soil and the lack of foundation, not by the heather sods on the roof.

Yes, Kathy, the danger of fire consisted mainly in spring. In may 1917 there was a large peat fire involving 16 victims.
I’ve read all the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder and I love them!
The population of the vast peat colonies consisted of two modes; gentlemen farmers with notables, the underclass were the laborers. The latter group was poor, and remained poor through exploitation. In winter, when the work in the peat colonies was stopped, the laborers lacked income. Yet they had to purchase food in the village shop, which was usually owned by the gentry, so they bought on credit. Later the liability paid by labor, thus the population remained poor. In fact, the inhabitants were victims of a system op oppression. They earned never enough money to pay their debts and leave.

Tattered and Lost: It was always so dark inside! The lack of light seems terrible. I am so grateful for the comfort which we are accustomed to today.

Kathy zei

I would never have envisioned a sod house with a pointed roof like this. My ideas for how one should look come entirely from Laura Ingalls Wilder.

Mike Brubaker zei

That was a clever idea to pick out the hut from the theme. I was introduced to sod on the Hebrides. It was mid-summer and families were cutting sod for fuel. They collected these small bricks in heaps to dry them for the winter fires. The aroma of burning peat was very different from the smoke of coal fires in Scotland and England. I would imagine a similar earthy scent was a natural part of your peat house.