Tiny Houses, Our Ancestors' Home Sweet Shed

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JPK Huson 1863

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tiny petersburg.JPG

Officer's wives and a child, a tiny house in Petersburg. Sure it's cute. It's also an incredibly small space in which to live.


tiny aquia creek.JPG

One of my favorite ' Wife in Camp ' images, LoC. Why? It's what, maybe 6' by 12'. Tiny house? I'll say. Check out the lace doily runner along her shelf. She made it a home. It wasn't permanent no but a couple and who knows, a child may have lived there. It's Aquia Creek landing.

While things have changed and are changing more through 2019, women traditionally have been responsible for ' making ' the family home. We did it everywhere, from log home to soddy to shed to tent, where there's a girl she was creating a home. Anywhere she walked through a door doilies appeared, dirt floors were swept and the nest took shape. You know the famous image ( which I won't post yet again, it's here around 400 times already ), camp of the 31st Pennsylvania? Wife, kids, soldier husband and puppy? Her family treasures inclusive of a Blue Willow sugar pot are on display. It was home. A really, really small home. Yes a tent but was this woman's home in Harrisburg or Chambersburg or whereever much larger?

tiny gatehouse thorn boys.JPG

Children who must be Elizabeth and Peter Thorn's son on the porch, Gettysburg's Evergreen Cemetery gate house summer of 1863. We know she lived there- ever think how small that place is? There's not much wall either side of those windows. Husband, wife and three children lived there.

tiny w side saddle.JPG

You look at this and hope that isn't her teenyteenyteenytiny house. But it may have been. @Belle Montgomery , @Equestriangirl93 , have you seen her? It may be City Point again- wish I could remember.

Here's what's so amazing. One solution to the current housing crisis ( no politics here, it's just what is ) has been the ' tiny house ' craze. Not so crazy. In an era when ' kids ' are supposed to move out on their own, accepting the full load of adult responsibility by creating a single family dwelling there's a. less and less dwellings to be had and b. less and less likelihood those kids can afford one while paying student loans, finding their feet in a career and starting families. Tiny houses solve a lot, heck, I've seen ' pods ' created- little spaces the size of half a tractor trailer.

tiny dc horse cart.JPG

Snugged between and beneath sprawling structures, war time Washington DC features quite a few of these barely-room-for-a-door facades. Think about it. How wide is a door, 3'? Houses may be as wide as my living room.

But. Are we maybe coming full circle? Yes, tours of historic homes include mansions where the 12 foot ceilings are fitting in all 25 rooms stuffed with wonderful furniture, fixtures, rugs and bric-a-brac. There was a flip side to these opulent living spaces. A LOT of us lived another way. Look at some famous houses just in Gettysburg alone. Both Mary Thompson's and Georgianna McClellan's ( the Jenny Wade ) homes, small by our standards were duplexes. Two families not one stuffed themselves into unthinkably teeny spaces.

From a Hathitrust book, public access. This one's McClellan's, where Mary Virginia Wade died.
tiny wade.JPG

32', encompassing both sides of the duplex. Take away a couple feet for walls, negative space for fireplace and stairway- how many feet of living space would there be?

tiny john rawlins city point.JPG

Rawlins and his little family in the doorway of their little home at City Point. She's also wearing hoops!

Sure, there are more spacious homes of the era not always belonging to some person of wealth. The thing is, while we've come to believe it's normal for the proverbial nuclear family to be the single occupant the nearer truth most housed several generations. You really hoped your son brought home a wife you could like. You got cozy with her. She was equally worried about you.

It's thought provoking. You know those ' McMansions '? A good friend lives in one and it's a lovely home. The foyer alone is spacious enough to swallow Georgianna's half of her duplex. Do we need it? They seem to have slightly ruined the whole ' tiny house ' thing by 2019- prices can still climb into 6 figures. They don't have to be. Read of one young couple who graduated college, maxed out small credit cards and built their own for around 5K. They said they'll live there until college is paid off.
tiny dc half house.JPG

Again, think how wide is a door. That's a tiny house. Washington DC, 1865 ( snipped from an LoC tif ).

tiny officers wife.JPG

What's so funny looking at these is how swiftly you get used to them- this little ( little ) cottage seems almost spacious. It may be ten feet of frontage. There are a lot more photographs bearing testimony to how little we were prepared to go but you get the idea. I'm not sure I could do it but bet if it were the only option I'd get used to it in a big hurry. Have to shrink the dogs.
 
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View attachment 328501
Officer's wives and a child, a tiny house in Petersburg. Sure it's cute. It's also an incredibly small space in which to live.


View attachment 328494
One of my favorite ' Wife in Camp ' images, LoC. Why? It's what, maybe 6' by 12'. Tiny house? I'll say. Check out the lace doily runner along her shelf. She made it a home. It wasn't permanent no but a couple and who knows, a child may have lived there. It's Aquia Creek landing.

While things have changed and are changing more through 2019, women traditionally have been responsible for ' making ' the family home. We did it everywhere, from log home to soddy to shed to tent, where there's a girl she was creating a home. Anywhere she walked through a door doilies appeared, dirt floors were swept and the nest took shape. You know the famous image ( which I won't post yet again, it's here around 400 times already ), camp of the 31st Pennsylvania? Wife, kids, soldier husband and puppy? Her family treasures inclusive of a Blue Willow sugar pot are on display. It was home. A really, really small home. Yes a tent but was this woman's home in Harrisburg or Chambersburg or whereever much larger?

View attachment 328497
Children who must be Elizabeth and Peter Thorn's son on the porch, Gettysburg's Evergreen Cemetery gate house summer of 1863. We know she lived there- ever think how small that place is? There's not much wall either side of those windows. Husband, wife and three children lived there.

View attachment 328500
You look at this and hope that isn't her teenyteenyteenytiny house. But it may have been. @Belle Montgomery , @Equestriangirl93 , have you seen her? It may be City Point again- wish I could remember.

Here's what's so amazing. One solution to the current housing crisis ( no politics here, it's just what is ) has been the ' tiny house ' craze. Not so crazy. In an era when ' kids ' are supposed to move out on their own, accepting the full load of adult responsibility by creating a single family dwelling there's a. less and less dwellings to be had and b. less and less likelihood those kids can afford one while paying student loans, finding their feet in a career and starting families. Tiny houses solve a lot, heck, I've seen ' pods ' created- little spaces the size of half a tractor trailer.

View attachment 328496
Snugged between and beneath sprawling structures, war time Washington DC features quite a few of these barely-room-for-a-door facades. Think about it. How wide is a door, 3'? Houses may be as wide as my living room.

But. Are we maybe coming full circle? Yes, tours of historic homes include mansions where the 12 foot ceilings are fitting in all 25 rooms stuffed with wonderful furniture, fixtures, rugs and bric-a-brac. There was a flip side to these opulent living spaces. A LOT of us lived another way. Look at some famous houses just in Gettysburg alone. Both Mary Thompson's and Georgianna McClellan's ( the Jenny Wade ) homes, small by our standards were duplexes. Two families not one stuffed themselves into unthinkably teeny spaces.

From a Hathitrust book, public access.
View attachment 328502
32', encompassing both sides of the duplex. Take away a couple feet for walls, negative space for fireplace and stairway- how many feet of living space would there be?

View attachment 328498
Rawlins and his little family in the doorway of their little home at City Point. She's also wearing hoops!

Sure, there are more spacious homes of the era not always belonging to some person of wealth. The thing is, while we've come to believe it's normal for the proverbial nuclear family to be the single occupant the nearer truth most housed several generations. You really hoped your son brought home a wife you could like. You got cozy with her. She was equally worried about you.

It's thought provoking. You know those ' McMansions '? A good friend lives in one and it's a lovely home. The foyer alone is spacious enough to swallow Georgianna's half of her duplex. Do we need it? They seem to have slightly ruined the whole ' tiny house ' thing by 2019- prices can still climb into 6 figures. They don't have to be. Read of one young couple who graduated college, maxed out small credit cards and built their own for around 5K. They said they'll live there until college is paid off.
View attachment 328495
Again, think how wide is a door. That's a tiny house. Washington DC, 1865 ( snipped from an LoC tif ).

View attachment 328499
What's so funny looking at these is how swiftly you get used to them- this little ( little ) cottage seems almost spacious. It may be ten feet of frontage. There are a lot more photographs bearing testimony to how little we were prepared to go but you get the idea. I'm not sure I could do it but bet if it were the only option I'd get used to it in a big hurry. Have to shrink the dogs.
Tiny houses with some being made out of convex shipping containers seem to be the rage today in some areas of the country.

Conex-Container-House-Shipping.jpg_50x50.jpg


*photo removed for possible copyright infringement
 
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Belle Montgomery

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View attachment 328501
Officer's wives and a child, a tiny house in Petersburg. Sure it's cute. It's also an incredibly small space in which to live.


View attachment 328494
One of my favorite ' Wife in Camp ' images, LoC. Why? It's what, maybe 6' by 12'. Tiny house? I'll say. Check out the lace doily runner along her shelf. She made it a home. It wasn't permanent no but a couple and who knows, a child may have lived there. It's Aquia Creek landing.

While things have changed and are changing more through 2019, women traditionally have been responsible for ' making ' the family home. We did it everywhere, from log home to soddy to shed to tent, where there's a girl she was creating a home. Anywhere she walked through a door doilies appeared, dirt floors were swept and the nest took shape. You know the famous image ( which I won't post yet again, it's here around 400 times already ), camp of the 31st Pennsylvania? Wife, kids, soldier husband and puppy? Her family treasures inclusive of a Blue Willow sugar pot are on display. It was home. A really, really small home. Yes a tent but was this woman's home in Harrisburg or Chambersburg or whereever much larger?

View attachment 328497
Children who must be Elizabeth and Peter Thorn's son on the porch, Gettysburg's Evergreen Cemetery gate house summer of 1863. We know she lived there- ever think how small that place is? There's not much wall either side of those windows. Husband, wife and three children lived there.

View attachment 328500
You look at this and hope that isn't her teenyteenyteenytiny house. But it may have been. @Belle Montgomery , @Equestriangirl93 , have you seen her? It may be City Point again- wish I could remember.

Here's what's so amazing. One solution to the current housing crisis ( no politics here, it's just what is ) has been the ' tiny house ' craze. Not so crazy. In an era when ' kids ' are supposed to move out on their own, accepting the full load of adult responsibility by creating a single family dwelling there's a. less and less dwellings to be had and b. less and less likelihood those kids can afford one while paying student loans, finding their feet in a career and starting families. Tiny houses solve a lot, heck, I've seen ' pods ' created- little spaces the size of half a tractor trailer.

View attachment 328496
Snugged between and beneath sprawling structures, war time Washington DC features quite a few of these barely-room-for-a-door facades. Think about it. How wide is a door, 3'? Houses may be as wide as my living room.

But. Are we maybe coming full circle? Yes, tours of historic homes include mansions where the 12 foot ceilings are fitting in all 25 rooms stuffed with wonderful furniture, fixtures, rugs and bric-a-brac. There was a flip side to these opulent living spaces. A LOT of us lived another way. Look at some famous houses just in Gettysburg alone. Both Mary Thompson's and Georgianna McClellan's ( the Jenny Wade ) homes, small by our standards were duplexes. Two families not one stuffed themselves into unthinkably teeny spaces.

From a Hathitrust book, public access.
View attachment 328502
32', encompassing both sides of the duplex. Take away a couple feet for walls, negative space for fireplace and stairway- how many feet of living space would there be?

View attachment 328498
Rawlins and his little family in the doorway of their little home at City Point. She's also wearing hoops!

Sure, there are more spacious homes of the era not always belonging to some person of wealth. The thing is, while we've come to believe it's normal for the proverbial nuclear family to be the single occupant the nearer truth most housed several generations. You really hoped your son brought home a wife you could like. You got cozy with her. She was equally worried about you.

It's thought provoking. You know those ' McMansions '? A good friend lives in one and it's a lovely home. The foyer alone is spacious enough to swallow Georgianna's half of her duplex. Do we need it? They seem to have slightly ruined the whole ' tiny house ' thing by 2019- prices can still climb into 6 figures. They don't have to be. Read of one young couple who graduated college, maxed out small credit cards and built their own for around 5K. They said they'll live there until college is paid off.
View attachment 328495
Again, think how wide is a door. That's a tiny house. Washington DC, 1865 ( snipped from an LoC tif ).

View attachment 328499
What's so funny looking at these is how swiftly you get used to them- this little ( little ) cottage seems almost spacious. It may be ten feet of frontage. There are a lot more photographs bearing testimony to how little we were prepared to go but you get the idea. I'm not sure I could do it but bet if it were the only option I'd get used to it in a big hurry. Have to shrink the dogs.
If you look closely you can see a roof line behind the pine trees which suggests to me their home could be there and the log "shed" may be for other purposes seeing the log walkway leading down there. The two ladies in the pic seem awfully overdressed if they were residing in such a humble abode and owning nice horse tack. In fact, after enlarging it, I could swear that the stand to the left of the shed is holding tack like a saddle with some "D" ring bits etc. Great pic find @JPK Huson 1863 !
 
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JPK Huson 1863, the official name for them were "Little Board Shacks", and they were often used by soldiers who were sure that they would be at a specific camp for a longer period of time. If they arrived to a new camp and were uncertain how long they would be there, the soldiers would throw-up their tents, fashion a temporary shelter with their blanket by throwing it over a small pine tree / sapling that was still flexible and small enough to bend and then stake the ends of the blanket to the ground, or sleep on the ground under the stars above them. If they began to think that they would be at that camp for a longer period of time they would build "Little Board Shacks" for themselves and their mess mates and build a sod or brick fireplace and chimney so that they could keep warm in the winter months and have something that they could put their kettle or iron skillet over with which to cook and prepare their cooked rations.

Below is a photo from the National Archives taken in Atlanta soon after the surrender of that city in September 1864, you can see the numerous "Little Board Shacks" all around the Courthouse.

Atlanta City Hall (surrender) 1.jpg
 
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Yankee Brooke

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If you look closely you can see a roof line behind the pine trees which suggests to me their home could be there and the log "shed" may be for other purposes seeing the log walkway leading down there. The two ladies in the pic seem awfully overdressed if they were residing in such a humble abode and owning nice horse tack. In fact, after enlarging it, I could swear that the stand to the left of the shed is holding tack like a saddle with some "D" ring bits etc. Great pic find @JPK Huson 1863 !
I see what you mean, it does appear that's simply a shed and the actual home is back behind the trees. After all they need somewhere to put the horse, and I don't imagine they would have a stable the size that building appears to be, while they're living in a tiny hut. The tools and what not strewn about also points to it being a tool shed, as does that log path.

Why would you put out a log pathway headed to your neighbors? It must be toward a building they own, probably the house and stable/barn, and it goes in two separate directions, it appears, forming a "Y" shape headed from the building behind that clump of trees. So perhaps a stable/barn and another home?

They seem to have a lot of land and if I remember right, families used to build multiple houses on the farm, one for the nucleus and then perhaps one to house the more extended family, aunts and uncles, cousins, etc. I believe it was not uncommon for the oldest brother to get the main house and then his younger brothers often took up residence in or built other houses on land not being farmed, that way they were always on hand to help with the farming and chores. Just a thought.
 
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JPK Huson 1863

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the first one could pass for a summer kitchen here.

Love summer kitchens! There's quite a few around here, guessing in the South they were more common, given the heat? A lot of the old farms in this area have been bought by Amish and it looks like they still use summer kitchens ( I've never wanted to ask, seems so intrusive ). Do the summer kitchens still get used in the South? It really makes sense.

They do look like tiny houses!
 

JPK Huson 1863

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Below is a photo from the National Archives taken in Atlanta soon after the surrender of that city in September 1864, you can see the numerous "Little Board Shacks" all around the Courthouse.

Thank you so much, never came across that image before. Ok, so you may have answered a question I've had ever since coming across this out of a war era Harper's. It was part of a spread illustrating setting up winter camp. The whole thing seemed baffling, thought maybe it was shed swiped from someone's farm ( or something ). Your information on Little Board Shacks seems the most likely?

harpers winter camp shed.JPG



One of my favorites. The look on her face..

Look at the puppy! I've always loved this mother, too. Could be reading too much into it but in the middle of a war, in a camp surrounded by mud ' n men, she's determined to keep it together. Those kids are clean, they've brought the family puppy and somehow managed to bring her best stoneware too. Blue Willow in camp!
blue willow in camp.JPG


You'd know this if anybody does- anyone ever able to track her down? Bet it's possible to at least come up with a good guess.
 
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archieclement

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Love summer kitchens! There's quite a few around here, guessing in the South they were more common, given the heat? A lot of the old farms in this area have been bought by Amish and it looks like they still use summer kitchens ( I've never wanted to ask, seems so intrusive ). Do the summer kitchens still get used in the South? It really makes sense.

They do look like tiny houses!
I'm in the midwest, not aware of any being used other then living history, quite a few survive, esp brick ones
 
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JPK Huson 1863, I have also heard "Little Board Shacks" referred to as "Huts". Below is an excerpt from a letter written from Pvt. Samuel D. Cameron ("D" Troop), 2nd Regiment Alabama Cavalry, to his friend Isham Robertson discussing matters of camp life on 19 Jan 1864 at Pikeville in northern Mississippi:

"I have no news to write much, I expect we will stay at this place until spring. We have commenced to building huts and shelters for our horses. Though we have no tools to build with nor cooking utensils to cook in."

Just one week later and they were issued movement orders to Jackson, Ms. by Maj. General Stephen D. Lee to help oppose Sherman`s Great Mississippi Expedition (Meridian Campaign).

Below is another letter, this one written from Pvt. Robert Wardroper ("B" Troop), 2nd Regiment Alabama Cavalry to his wife Bettie regarding him arriving to a new camp and quickly getting settled near New Albany in northern Mississippi on 30 Sep 1863:

"I feel in much better spirit myself owing to Bragg's success and the tone of the French Emperor and think the Confederacy is looking up a little. I am writing under a tent of my own construction which is my blanket stretched over a pole , the corners tied out, and a little trench round the edges, which will keep me dry as a bone. It is now raining, the first in two months."

Regarding Bragg`s success which is referenced in the excerpt of the letter above, he was talking about Bragg`s success with Forrest at Chickamauga. The French Emperor who he was most likely speaking of was Maximilian who would soon be in Mexico ruling that country and was considering "officially" backing the Confederacy during the war. As it was he was purchasing cotton and other goods from the Confederacy to support the Confederate cause, but was also considering sending French and Mexican troops from Mexico. Napoleon III was the Emperor of France at this time.

Pvt. Hardin Perkins Cochrane ("D" Troop), 2nd Regiment Alabama Cavalry in a letter home to his wife also made mention of making a temporary shelter and stated that he also used his blanket but stretched it over a small pine sapling and staked the corners of the blanket to the ground with wooden stakes, then slept directly under the sapling which would have been the center of the shelter.

Even the tents, when given enough time, would be modified to give the soldiers a little more comfort as they would build wooden floors to keep them off the ground for when it rained and they would build sod or brick fireplaces in them as well to cook on and keep warm during the winter months.
 
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Skh

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My reenactor buddy is living in my detached garage as he turns it into a tiny house. It's a great solution for the modern day- he needs a cheap place to live, I appreciate the help on the utilities, we are close but would drive each other crazy under one roof... 12x26, it's actually pretty spacious!
 

JPK Huson 1863

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My reenactor buddy is living in my detached garage as he turns it into a tiny house. It's a great solution for the modern day- he needs a cheap place to live, I appreciate the help on the utilities, we are close but would drive each other crazy under one roof... 12x26, it's actually pretty spacious!

I've read of quite a few households doing the same thing. It's a creative answer to living in an increasingly crowded world. We turned the second floor of our detached garage into a small apartment for my mother. It was previously just a storage space- amazing how well it does as an apartment! One ' big ' room, kitchen/living, a smaller bedroom and a not-terribly small bathroom. Storage/closets tucked in the awkward angles of the roof line. We get to enjoy having her here rather than in an assisted living home, she gets her privacy.


Even the tents, when given enough time, would be modified to give the soldiers a little more comfort as they would build wooden floors to keep them off the ground for when it rained and they would build sod or brick fireplaces in them as well to cook on and keep warm during the winter months.

Love seeing what they came up with! This is from Brandy Station, looks like they used a Sibley and gave it height then added another ' wing '? There's a photo from ( I think? ) 10th NY Cavalry's camp where the same Sibley set-up seems to have been used through the whole camp? LoC
brandy sibley.JPG

Of course, 6 men in there probably made it feel a lot smaller!

A very tiny house. Rats, forget where this is.
home tent 1.JPG
 
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