TT 02: Log House


Log houses provided shelter for Naperville’s early settlers from the extreme weather and high winds of the Illinois prairies. Settlers built log homes of readily available natural materials like wood, stone, and mud. To build a log home of this size (18 feet by 16 feet), a settler would need to cut down seventy to eighty logs of equal size. Many settlers built their log cabins with holes in the roof to vent smoke, greased paper windows, and a dirt floor. A settler might turn his log cabin into a log house by adding a hinged door, glass windows, a plank floor, and a fireplace with a chimney. Living quarters were tight in log cabins, with settler households averaging six people. Most furniture in a log home was homemade. Mattresses were typically made of chaff bags filled with corn husks, straw sticks, or leftover grain thrashings. Only a lucky few were able to have mattresses filled with feathers. Life inside the log home revolved around the fireplace, which was the main source of heat, light, and fuel for cooking. No day passed when the fireplace went unused—even in the summertime. Life in a log house was hard work and little play. Every member of a frontier household, including children, was responsible for daily chores essential to the family’s survival. Men and older boys cleared and cultivated fields, chopped firewood, and tended livestock. Women were responsible for cooking, cleaning, sewing, laundering, and related tasks. Children carried water, gathered fallen branches for kindling, and minded their younger siblings. The log house at Naper Settlement is the only building on the museum grounds which is not originally from this area. This log house was brought to Naper Settlement in 1978 from Jonesboro, Illinois.