The old house where we lived in the early 1940's.
Aunt Hattie Swink and Vera Lee Martin Bird.
A Little Background
My great grandfather homesteaded a place in Somervel County, Texas in 1856. Over the
next 40 years or so, he bought out some of the other homesteads around him until he
finally wound up with close to 3,000 acres.
In purchashing the other homesteads he acquired at least two other ranch houses that I
know of, which he rented out or let family members live in over the years. After he
passed away, my great uncle, my grandmothers brother, inherited the place and kept the
My dad was an old bachelor until the age of 45, when he finally married. My
grandmother passed away a year before dad married and my grandfather rented his place
out and went to live with some of the married children and dad moved into one of the old
houses on the old homestead.
The house was a two story, box type house. For those of you who do not know what a
“box” house is, it consisted of 1 X 12 boxing planks nailed to the outside of the floor
joists and a 2X4 runner at the top. There was a 1X4 slat nailed over the cracks to keep
the wind out. As there were no 2X4 studs, there was no inside wall, just the single
In the case of a two story house they would use 16 or 18 ft boxingplanks with one
runner at the 10 ft level, for the second floor, and another at the top. The first, or main
floor, usually had 10 ft ceilings and the second floor had a low ceiling. Actually, the roof
pitch was the ceiling, and tho you might not be able to stand up at the edges without
bumping your head on the ceiling, you could walk down the middle very well. The
second floor was used mainly as a storage area.
The house sat in the middle of the ranch with just a couple of ruts, which was called a
road, cutting across the ranch from north to south, going by in front of the house. To go
to town you could go out the north road by the main ranch house, which was a mile from
our house, and then another mile out to the highway. The other way, to the south, was a
mile to the backside of the ranch, through a gate onto another property and another half
mile to a back road, which was dirt, then another three miles to get to a paved road.
Also, there was no electricity and no running water. This is a general description of the
place I started life out at during what many people call “The good old days.” Now, let’s
do a little comparing of life in the “Good old days” with life today.
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