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It’s Not A House, It’s a Home… Made of Grass

Emma Daniels
On July 25, 2022

The “home made of grass” here at Harold Warp’s Pioneer Village happens to be Minden Nebraska’s very own Warp family sod house, where Harold Warp, founder, and collector for the historical museum, was born and raised.

The house was constructed using many long ribbons of the easily available, thick grass known as sod (specifically bluestem sod), which were placed overlaying each other and held together by clay from a nearby river. Due to the material, sod houses couldn’t be two floors.  They are also much more vulnerable to rain damage than houses made of stone or wood and often had to be repaired, so a small-sized house was preferred because it meant spending less time on repairs. Warp’s sod house has only two rooms: one for sleeping, and one for cooking and eating.

While the Warp’s true sod house attracted some rattlesnakes, many Nebraskans would create a half sod house, half dugout which rattlesnakes liked even more. Harold notes in his book that when rattlesnakes dared enter their sod house, they would keep their rattles as a record of how many they had seen. They often put the cloth over the window openings to protect them from the outdoor elements. The best thing about sod houses was that they were very insulated.       So, they remained warm in the winter and cool in the summer. They used buffalo horns on the wall as hooks for clothes.

The best part about this sod house is that in this museum building, you can read Warp’s very own handwritten experience in the house and descriptions of items that they used every day. For example, he recalled his mother sitting at the table, which still sits in the house at the museum, knitting mittens by the light of a kerosene lamp and eating their meals together there with his 8 siblings and his parents. On a sadder note, he recalls his father’s passing, in which he tells his wife to look in the “Skatol”, a piece of furniture his father had built and named after immigrating, in which there was $600 to build a bigger, more effective shed for the cows. He explained in detail exactly how he wanted it to look. Harold Warp then recalls that his father passed peacefully following this declaration as if it had been part of the plan all along. Like any home, Harold Warp experienced loving, fulfilling childhood memories, as well as moments of heartbreak and loss. His just took place in a time where homes were made of clay and grass rather than wood and glass. It was where he discovered the invention that put him and his family on the map, Flex-O-Glass.

These little details and stories throughout history are why he chose to create Pioneer Village; he just couldn’t bear to see his past get torn to shreds in the name of innovation. So there at that amazing museum is where his childhood home sits, waiting to tell all its stories about the things that it has seen to those who dare to venture into moments throughout history.

Emma Daniels
A Student at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, as part of Heather Nelson’s Service Learning Academy class.

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