The Little Sod Shanty on the Claim [Cabinet Card]. J. N. Templeman, Jasper Newton.
The Little Sod Shanty on the Claim [Cabinet Card]

1880s Family Life in the Dakotas

The Little Sod Shanty on the Claim [Cabinet Card]

Notes: A nice image of a sod house on the Dakota prairie with its likely inhabitants, a white woman standing at the door, with a white man sitting on a barrel against the house holding two young children. This is a good illustration of pioneer family life and the exceptional hardships faced by poor settlers homesteading on the plains.

The house is almost entirely sod, or slabs of thick-rooted prairie grass, with a sod chimney and a sod roof, with some wooden supports. The doors and windows are also framed, with curtains visible behind the glass. This house appears to have been in place for a while. Sand dunes have accumulated against the house—evidence of the fierce winds that swept the Great Plains—and the ground around the building is covered with wild plants.

The back of the mount has the photographer's satirical verses to the popular 19th century song, "Old Log Cabin in the Lane." "When I left my eastern home, so happy and so gay / To try to win my way to wealth and fame / I little thought I'd come down to burning twisted hay..." Templeman (1848–1890) specialized in views of prairie life and portraits of Native Americans. His song "Little Sod Shanty" appears to date from about 1885 and he died in Iowa City in 1890, narrowing the date for this image.

Cabinet card, 6-7/16 by 4-1/4 (oblong).

Edition + Condition: Very good. Image with good contrast. Minor staining to verso (back).

Publication: Miller, Dakota [now South Dakota]: J. N. Templeton, (ca. 1885).

Item No: #306905

Price: $300