Baca County History

by the Plainsman Herald

Granddad’s Adobe House: by George Chatham


By George Chatham

Since lumber wasn’t readily available to the homesteaders, most homes were made of sod or adobe blocks. Sod was created by using a knife sled apparatus pulled behind a horse or team of horses which cut about an 18” wide by 3” or 4” thick slab of buffalo grass sod. Uncle Elder’s homestead house was made of “sod”. (See pictures from previous posts) The sod for Elmer’s house was cut from the grassy creek bottom of South Horse creek.

Chatham Adobe House

After the dug-out, the house that became Fred’s house that he lived in during his later life on North Horse creek was a house made out of “adobe” blocks. The adobe blocks are made by mixing straw and mud together into forms then removing the forms to let the adobe blocks dry. We know this house was built sometime around 1938 because, when some plaster fell off one corner we found an old 1938 Colorado license plate buried under the plaster. My Aunt Vela tells the story that they had been making “Adobe” blocks and had almost enough to lay up the walls for the house, when the cows got in the yard and broke up and ruined several of the “adobe” blocks. They decided to lay up the house with what blocks they had. She said the house was supposed to have been another two rows higher. The house was square approximately 28′ by 28′. It had two bed rooms, a kitchen, and living room area; four rooms in all, with an attic. (See pictures below)

West Side of Fred Chatham's Adobe house.

front gate, cellar, and outhouse of Chatham House

Ray, Vernon, and Oran lived in the “Adobe house” until Oran and Vernon went to the service during World War II. After Clay Creek, Vela stayed with Ola and the boys down on Fred’s homestead. It was mostly Ola, Vela, & Ray because the boys were working out for various neighbors and were soon drafted to the army because of the war. Ray was not drafted. During World War II, Ray started and ran a country garage, “Chatham Garage and Welding”, on Fred Chatham’s homestead until his death of cancer in 1955.

Next Post: “Chatham Garage and Welding”

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