Volga German Haus

Pioneer Living

Located on the grounds of the Ellis County Historical Museum, the Volga German Haus offers a peek into how the early Volga German settlers made their homes in Ellis County.

The earliest homes were sod, the top few inches of soil and native grass roots, just as were many early dwellings across the Great Plains. Typically, the homes were 28 feet long and 16 feet wide. Sod walls were 6 feet high with two half-windows in each wall and one front door. The ground would be excavated to a depth of three feet. The interior of the house contained two rooms: a small anti-room containing the "mud stove" and the cooking utensils, and a large room which served as the living, dining, and sleeping area. The walls were plastered with clay and whitewashed with alabaster, a type of plaster of paris.

Ground water was and is scarce in Ellis County, so there were not enough trees to responsibly make logs and lumber for houses. Thankfully, the unique geology of Ellis County gave settlers another option. Post rock limestone is a unique formation of the soft stone that allowed quarriers to easily bring rectangle-shaped blocks of stone out of the ground. The long rectangle was then sawed into smaller blocks and used as a sturdy building material for homes and churches.

The Volga German Haus at the Ellis County Historical Society is made of post rock limestone. The design of the house came from research conducted in the early 1980s through personal diaries and other documents from the early days of Ellis County. The Volga German Society and ECHS built the Haus in 1983 and furnished with trappings typical of the late 1800s. The Haus is a great place to learn, remember, and start conversations about the settlers of our county.