By: 
Kylee Cole
 Updated: 
The master bedroom provided little privacy unlike many of our bedrooms today.
The master bedroom provided little privacy unlike many of our bedrooms today.

Prairie Grove Battlefield State Park in northwest Arkansas protects nearly 1,000 acres of the Prairie Grove Battlefield and interprets the history of Arkansans impacted by the Civil War. We hope that you enjoy this exploration of one of the park’s 19th-century buildings and discover what everyday life was like for those living in the Civil War era Ozarks. This glimpse at the Latta House reveals scenes from our shared past that are simultaneously familiar and foreign.

The Latta House, constructed by John Latta in 1834, was originally located near Evansville, Arkansas. In 1959, preservationists and Latta’s descendants saved the dilapidated home from ruin by dismantling it and moving it to its current location in Prairie Grove Battlefield State Park.

A two-story log home with large front porch. Two stone chimneys extend past the wood-shingled roof on each end.

A chimney made of rectangular stones extends past walls made of square logs with half-dovetail notching and gable covered in vertical board and batten wooden siding. Overlapping wooden shakes are barely visible at the edges of the roof.

Half-dovetail notched logs and local stone are beautiful signatures of nineteenth-century Ozark architecture. Arkansans didn’t always have the convenience of driving to home improvement stores or working with architects and contractors to build their homes. They used what they could source locally and found ways to construct sturdy homes that would stand the test of time.

Close up view of irregularly sized, rectangular, wooden shingles in the foreground. A tree is out of focus in the background.

Before asphalt and metal roofing, builders ingeniously used wood shingles boiled in lard to keep rain and snow out of their buildings. Despite these weatherproofing attempts, residents might awaken to a crisp frost across their beds on chilly mornings.

In the corner of a white-washed room, a wooden couch with striped upholstery is sat at an angle. A small ceramic doll in a fabric dress is in the middle of the couch.

We can find many areas of this home that are recognizable to us, even over 100 years later. In the parlor, one of two downstairs rooms, family members and friends gathered – much like our modern living rooms.

In the corner of a whitewashed room, two straight-backed chairs flank a small side table. Atop the table are two teacups, a sugar bowl, creamer, and one candle.

In another parlor corner, the lady of the house might visit with a guest over a cup of tea!

Through a wooden doorway, steep unpainted wooden stairs turn sharply to the left.

Steep wooden stairs lead to the two second-floor bedrooms. The whitewashed walls of the stairway are dirtied from being touched by many hands over time.

The image is taken looking up from the floor and features rough, uneven floorboards in the foreground. At the back wall of the whitewashed room, a large four poster bed and wooden trunk are sat to the right of a small, rocking bassinet. The gable end of the room and the roof are unfinished.

The master bedroom provided little privacy unlike many of our bedrooms today. Here we can see a rocking bassinet where a baby slept close to mom and dad.

An ornate dresser with large mirror reflects a wooden bed. Two candles and a covered bowl set atop the dresser.

This mirrored dresser reflects what was rarely a quiet space, a bedroom occupied by several rowdy children. Since space was limited and nineteenth-century families generally had more children on average than modern families, one bedroom might have several beds or pallets and sleep upwards of five children.

A small window with lace curtains illuminates a wooden washstand with mirror, bowl, and pitcher. On the wooden floor underneath the window sits a white, ceramic chamber pot with lid.

When they had to “go” a chamber pot and basin saved family members a walk to the outhouse prior to indoor plumbing.

Looking through a multi-pane window at a small stone springhouse with wooden shingled roof. A small stone well is located under the overhanging roof of the springhouse.

Through the dining room window, we can see a nearby springhouse where children would fetch water for the day’s cooking and cleaning.

A meandering brick path leads to a small log building with large overhanging front-gabled porch.

Sometimes our walk to the fridge feels like a trek. Imagine this family leaving the house to go to the separate kitchen!

A large stone fireplace with iron screen is in the middle of the back wall of the kitchen. Several large iron Dutch ovens and fireplace utensils are set at each side. Atop the wooden mantle sit several large ceramic jugs. Iron skillets are hung barely out of frame above the fireplace.

This hearth is the reason it made sense to build the kitchen separate from the main house. Cooking over an open flame was dangerous and homes were constantly at risk for devastating fires.

A wooden door opens to a dark stone cellar. The sunlight hits the right wall of the cellar entrance showing that many small stones are stacked to reinforce the walls.

 

Another important outbuilding that was key to the Ozark home was the cellar. These underground storage areas held food just like our pantries. The cool, dark cellar was the perfect place to store potatoes, onions, vinegar, and canned goods for use throughout the winter.

This home witnessed over 180 years of family growth, struggle, and memories. From 1834 to today, this home stood sentry in the relatively isolated Ozark Mountains sheltering generations of families through all seasons and even the Civil War.

Prairie Grove Battlefield State Park preserves and protects artifacts, landscapes, and structures, like this house, that tell stories about our past and we can’t wait to share them with you! At your Arkansas State Parks you can find your history, and with your support we can keep these resources around for generations to come.