Volume 1


Fourth Edition Printed by the Clio Press Iowa City, Iowa 1920
Copyright 1917 by Clarence Ray Aurner

Transcribed by Sharon Elijah, submitted April, 2013

A BETTER HOUSE pgs 91-93

After the cabin built of round logs had been in use for some time a better kind of house made from hewed logs was put up. Hewed or squared logs made smooth walls which could be plastered. Such a house was not only warmer than the chinked one but it was pleasanter to live in. By and by framed houses with heavy joists and sills made out of hewed timber took the place of log houses. But these could not be built until there were saw mills to cut the logs into boards for the sides of the house and for the rooms. Very often black walnut logs were cut into boards for making doors and for finishing the inside of the house. Such lumber now would be too expensive for that purpose, in the houses of most people.

Even now one may occasionally find an old house with the heavy hard wood timbers used to build it long ago. The ax marks of the hewer are still to be seen. Perhaps, the walnut wood finish may be found along the windows and doors or stairway. The oak, which was so common when the first settlers built their log cabins, is now considered expensive enough.

pg 93
When there were no great mills to make lumber and shingles to cover the better kinds of houses, men sometimes made them by hand. One old lady says that her father hewed them out with a draw knife and a shaving horse. These are strange words to people of today. Some carpenter, however, may keep a draw knife, but in using it he fastens the piece of timber in a vice. Very few carpenters, probably, would know much about a shaving horse. Such a machine held the shingle or timber upon which the man worked very firmly in a clamp. Little by little the shingle was hewed to the thinness and shape wanted. To be sure, these hard wood shingles seem very awkward when they are compared to the smooth cedar or pine shingles made in the great shingle mills of the United States.

The better house seemed to demand better furniture. The old puncheon or dirt floor had been improved by using plank or boards. Rag carpets were soon common and one carpet loom in the neighborhood could weave the rags sewed at home and rolled into huge balls for the weaver to use on his shuttles. Some factory chairs were soon bought and the old stools were cast off. A real bedstead, too, took the place of the old corner “prairie” or pole bed.

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