Lesson 4 Supplementary Readings
1. A Pioneer's Log Cabin
Our cabin was 24 feet by 18. We had a window made by sawing out a log and placing sticks across it. Then, by
pasting an old newspaper over the hole, and applying some hog’s lard, we had a kind of glazing which shed a
most beautiful and mellow light across the cabin. All other light entered at the doors, cracks and chimney.
(“Building a Log Cabin”, By a Pioneer 1822 in How Our Grandfathers Lived.)
This reading is an example of a primary source. It was actually written by a person who lived during the 19th
century and wrote about what he experienced. Even though this story was reprinted in a later book, it is still a
2. A Small "plantation" Near Natchitoches, Louisiana in 1853. Frederick Olmsted's description is not
the romantic "plantation" we often associate with the Antebellum South. Note: this is a 19th century
description and uses the word negro, which is not politically correct today.
About the house was a large yard, in which were two or three China[berry?] trees, and two fine Cherokee roses;
half a dozen hounds; several negro babies; turkeys and chickens, and a pet sow, teaching a fine litter of pigs how
to root and wallow. Three hundred yards from the house was a gin-house and stable, and in the interval between
were two rows of comfortable negro cabins. Between the house and the cabins was a large post, on which was a
bell to call the negroes. A rack for fastening horses stood near it. On the bell-post and on each of the rack-posts
were nailed the antlers of a buck, as well as on a large oak-tree near by. On the logs of the kitchen a fresh deer
skin was drying. On the railing of the piazza lay a saddle. The house had but one door and no window, nor was
there a pane of glass on the plantation.
I found this quote in the noted book Back of the Big House: The Architecture of Plantation Slavery by John
Michael VlachIn, who quotes part of this section. Back of the Big House is a secondary source. Then I found
and looked up the complete description in Frederick Law Olmsted's original work, which is a primary source.
3. Kate Stone –Texas 1863. Kate Stone was the daughter of a wealthy family from Louisiana. The family had to
flee when the Union army invaded Mississippi and Eastern Louisiana. These are paraphrases of the original
entries in Kate Stone's diary, making them easier for group reading and more understandable.
Brother Johnny was looking at a house in Lamar County, Texas with a view to renting it and asked the man how
many rooms it had. “Why, four,” the man said, “two enclosed rooms plus the dog-trot hall and porch.” p. 235
Our friend Mrs. Carson has already rented a two-room cottage near Tyler. We’ll use the 2 outdoor kitchen rooms
for the boys and for a dining room. Since there are eight of us, we’ll fill a small house, but it’s the only
arrangement we find feasible at this time.