Oscar’s Gift Reading Guide: Day 7

Soddies: Homes Built from the Ground Up

“‘Buffalo grass is good for two things: buffalo and houses,’ Mr. Squirrel Coat said. Buffalo grass grew everywhere on our claim. It was low and thick and curly. Its roots reached deep into the soil for moisture and did not let go.” ~ Oscar’s Gift: Planting Words with Oscar Micheaux

In chapter four of Oscar’s Gift, Tomas and Mr. Squirrel Coat build a “soddy,” or sod house: a home made of strips of sod (a thick layer of ground that includes the grass growing on it). Because there was little wood or stone available on much of the Great Plains prairie, sod buildings–houses, barns, schools, even post offices–were common. About an acre of land was needed for a sod home.

Which of the following photos of soddies do you think most resembles the one the Tomas helped to make? (Click on photos for larger images.)

American sod house, 1901

American sod house, 1901

Man standing with dog outside of a sod house, C. 1913 (Library of Congress)

Man standing with dog outside of a sod house, C. 1913 (Library of Congress)

 Omer Kem, Representative to the United States Congress in front of his sod house, 1886

Omer Kem, Representative to the United States Congress in front of his sod house, 1886

North Dakota, 1910-1919, Library of Congress

North Dakota, 1910-1919, Library of Congress

Learn more about sod houses:


Click HERE for the full Reading Guide.

Oscar’s Gift: Planting Words with Oscar Micheaux is available from Amazon as a paperback and ebook.

New Oscar Cover