Life in a soddy

In the spring of 1879, Jerry Shores, a former enslaved person, moved his family westward. They joined one of the first emigrant wagon trains to Nebraska. The Shores family traveled in three wagons. Shores drove one wagon. His son drove another one. And his 16-year-old daughter drove the third wagon.

The Shoreses settled on a homestead claim in Nebraska. Since Nebraska was mostly treeless prairie land, it was impossible to build any kind of wooden structure. But the earth and grass beneath their feet. Some settlers referred to it as “prairie marble.” They used it to build a sod house, or soddy. For most pioneer families on the prairie, building a soddy was the first thing they did to keep the family safe and protected from the weather.

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