by Ronald Sortor
Hand Hewn Log Homes
Most of the early settlers in Curtisville built hand hewn log cabins. Prior to the days of chain saws, sawmills, and mechanization, the only way to square a log was with an adze, a hand tool that looks somewhat like a combination between a hoe and a pick. Imagine standing with your feet on either side of a log, swinging a heavy tool to chip the round edge to a flat surface, and you get the idea: extremely labor-intensive. (James Barnes operated a squaring mill for this purpose on the south east corner of Bamfield and Curtisville Road). The corners were fitted precisely using a dove-tail joining pattern, and the sides of the cabin were basically flat, except for the marks left by the adze. The earth often served as a floor for the cabin. More energetic settlers prepared “puncheon floors” by splitting and hewing logs. Logs were skidded up logs and placed in position with forks and hand spikes. Openings for doors and windows were sawn of chopped out after the logs were in place. The longitudinal ridge poles were pegged in place and then covered with shakes prepared from cedar. Doors and windows installed. Mortar chinking was installed in the cracks between the logs. There is no record of any of these log homes having fireplaces so it is believed that they were heated with pot-belly or other types of wood stoves. The Barnes, Bowser, Curley Curtis and Sinclair families are all known to have had hand hewn log home. However, none of these home remain today.
Board and Batten Homes
Richard Curtis (the first white child born in Curtis township) standing of the front porch of their board and batten home. They cut those boards out of some very large trees, they are almost twice the width of Richard’s shoulders.
Wall construction for a board and batten house in which the exterior covering consists of closely spaced boards set vertically, with narrow wood strips covering the joints between the boards. A timber-frame type of construction was generally used on these early homes.
Early farmers made land suitable for farming by tediously removing fieldstone, stone by stone, since land with many rocks posed a serious risk of damage to machinery. Larger rocks hindered cultivation, and even a small rock picked up by a baler or a combine can wreck intake parts, causing hundreds of dollars in repairs and costly delays at harvest time. Washed and split, field rock is considered an attractive landscape and building material. Fieldstone is an interesting word. Its origin is based on an annual ritual that early farmers, and farmers today, had to perform each spring. After the snow would melt off the fields, there would be stones popping up through the soil where none had been the previous fall. These rocks are forced up b y frost, little by little each winter season through the soil. Every year some finally burst through like a little chick pops out of an egg. Since these stones were discovered in the fields, the farmers would call them fieldstone. It didn’t take farmers long to figure out what to do with these seemingly pesky stones. The first use of the stones was for foundations to the homes, barns and outbuildings as well as a fieldstone fireplace or two. But as more stones floated up to the surface, farmers discovered they were perfect for a fieldstone wall. Later homes were built with fieldstone veneers over a frame construction. The fieldstone home above is an example of this type of construction, it is still standing on Wissmiller Road.