Moving to the Great Plains meant building a home on broad, flat, ...
Moving to the Great Plains meant building a home on broad, flat, and treeless prairies. Borrowing from the Plains Indians and earlier pioneers in Kansas, Mattie Oblinger and other homesteaders built sod houses. They cut the prairie sod deep and wide, laid it up like giant bricks, and fit the bricks together snugly without mortar. Mattie and her husband Uriah obtained their land through the Homestead Act of 1862, claiming and improving their 160 acres over five years. Other lands for farmers became available from the vast acreages of public land given to the railroad companies as subsidies. The Oblingers and other settlers formed communities of young families with a rough social equality and common concerns about crops, religion, and social isolation. They faced a series of hardships on the land in the 1870s: blizzards, droughts, and grasshoppers, as well as low crop prices. Mattie died in childbirth at the age of thirty-six.
- U.S. History
- Material Type:
- Primary Source
- American Social History Project / Center for History Media and Learning
- Provider Set:
- Many Pasts (CHNM/ASHP)
- Center for History and New Media/American Social History Project