The Log House

"Log cabin" generally denotes a simple one, or one and one-half story structure, somewhat impermanent, and less finished or less architecturally sophisticated. A "log cabin" was usually constructed with round rather than hewn, or hand-worked, logs, and it was the first generation homestead erected quickly for frontier shelter.

"Log house" historically denotes a more permanent, hewn-log dwelling, either one or two stories, of more complex design, often built as a second generation replacement. Many of the earliest 18th and early 19th century log houses were traditionally clad, sooner or later, with wood siding or stucco.

History of the Log House at the Village

Interesting Facts about the Log House

▪  Log construction was not invented in the United States, but brought by northwest and central European colonists including Finnish, Swedish, Russian, German, and French settlers.

▪  With the logs cut, a group of neighbors could raise a 20' x 24' cabin in one day!

▪  Construction of cabins required no nails and required few tools -- a felling axe, a broad axe, and a hand saw or crosscut saw.

▪  Most cabins contained only one room.

▪  They were generally 10 feet wide and measured 12 to 20 feet long

▪  Some cabins had no windows but most had at least one glass window (glass was available in Iowa by 1837)

▪  Cabins were rarely warmer than 35 to 40 degress in the winter!

▪  14 to 16 people might live in a small cabin. Therefore, most included a loft area for sleeping.

▪  "Chinking" was a term applied to filling the gaps with wood, sticks, or stone chips. Cracks, holes, and spaces between the logs were then filled with mud, clay, or moss which is "daubing."

▪  Log buildings were used for stores, churches, schools, barns, and mills.

▪  President Abe Lincoln was born and lived in a log cabin.

The cabins of the settlers were all log cabins, rudely constructed, made of logs just large enough for three or four men to handle, and daubed with mud to keep out wind, snow, and rain. The floors, where we had any, were made of puncheons split from the logs by the woodman's axe and had what was called a shake roof. Logs [used] in every part - sills, joists, roof fastened with logs, in fact, a house of native timber - no nails. The door often of shakes with wooden pins and hinges. Our fireplaces were built of rough stone large enough to hold a whole load of wood.

The cabins were 14x16, in most instances, and yet they were made to accommodate as many as three or four families, or twelve to fifteen individuals, and have room for strangers and visitors. These buildings had, often, no windows, but in the winter time we could see daylight through the roof and many is the time we have found in the morning, upon awakening, some three or four inches of snow upon the covering of the bed.

Excerpt from GUTHRIE COUNTY HISTORY - 1884, pg. 254.

A Retrospect of James Carbery of Valley Township—1884

GCHV:  phone 641.755.2989  |  email gchv@netins.net  |  206 W South St—Panora, IA  50216

GUTHRIE COUNTY HISTORICAL VILLAGE