Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Humble Beginnings by Kimberly Grist

The Homestead Act passed by the U.S. Congress in 1862 put property ownership within reach for many. The law offered any twenty-one-year-old adult male a claim of up to 160 acres of land in the  Great Plains and Southwest, provided he cultivated the land and built a home on the property. 

Settlers built homes from local materials such as sod, mentioned in my blog in July called, "Home is Where the Soddy is." For families fortunate enough to live in forested areas, their homes were built from rough logs.

Site selection was vital to ensure proper drainage and sunlight. The most basic cabin was one room and had earth floors.

Some cabins were set on large stones to keep the foundations out of damp soil and to provide for storage underneath the home. Thresholds were supported with rock as well.

Building a log house was strenuous. The lot had to be cleared. Straight trees of 14 or 15 feet were cut down and the bark was hacked off to make the sides flat. The ends of the log were “notched” to fit together without nails. With the help of neighbors, logs were laid across the front and back and joined to make a square. The fours sides were built eight logs high.

Replica of  James Garfield's birthplace.
The log cabin has been a symbol of humble beginnings and rags to riches since the mid 19th century. Seven United States Presidents were born in these types of dwellings including James Buchanan, Millar Filmore, Andrew Jackson, Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Pierce.  
Replica of Abraham Lincoln's birthplace.
Replica of Millar Filmore's birthplace.

A common style of log home was called a dogtrot house. The floor plan of two cabins joined together by one roof with an open breezeway in the center was particularly popular in Texas. Typically one cabin was used for cooking and dining while the other was used for bedrooms. The open center porch or breezeway was multipurpose. It provided additional living space and created air currents which pulled cooler outside air into the living quarters.

The Jacob Wolf House
Built in 1825, the Jacob Wolf House is a two-story dogtrot with the second floor built over the open breezeway. The building is maintained by the Department of Arkansas Heritage as a historic site.

Following the Civil War from 1870 to 1900 a period of rapid expansion and new fortunes, the west caught up with the mainstream of American architectural fashion the Victorian.

The Eisenhower Birthplace State Historic Site is located at 609 S. Lamar Avenue in Denison, Grayson County, in the U.S. state of Texas. President Dwight D. Eisenhower was born in the house on October 14, 1890, the first United States President to be born in Texas.

In my new release Carol's Choice, twenty-year-old Carol Stone finds herself in reduced circumstances with two younger siblings to care for. The suggested marriage of convenience is out of the question, so she stalls for time. When Carol learns she is the sole heir of a small home in a newly expanded railroad town, she throws caution to the Texas wind and packs her bags.

Though warned of the extreme change in lifestyle, she's shocked at the size of the Sunday House. And why didn't she think to ask about indoor plumbing? Leaving her lifestyle of shopping, lavish parties and holiday endeavors for a simpler life is a temporary solution until she can make a match of her own design.

Carol Struggles to let go of the past, embrace the present, and hope for a better future. What she doesn't bargain for is the handsome livery-stable owner, who understands the true meaning of family and Christmas. Will love conquer lavish?

Carol's Choice

Connect with Kimberly:
Combining History, Humor and Romance with an emphasis on Faith, Friends and Good Clean Fun. Kim's stories are written to remind us how God can use adversity to strengthen us and draw us closer to Him and give us the desires of our heart in ways we may never expect.
Website: https://kimberlygrist.com/


  1. Wow, the Christmas book sounds like a very good read!! I already love it and I have only read this plus a couple of other blogs about it, Thank you so very much for all the information on the Log cabins! I Love, love cabins, and yes with plumbing in them for sure! I enjoyed reading this blog! Thank you so much and Thank you so very much Kim for all this info and for writing this awesome christmas story, which I have to add to my TBR list. Have a Great week. God Bless you.

  2. Thanks for the comments. I love to visit log cabins and especially like the dogtrot style. I visited the Sunday House (pictured above) on a visit to Fredericksburg,Texas, which was my inspiration for the story.