Dowse Sod House Story

Dowse Sod House Index

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The Hardships of Life
“I do,” were the words of William Ryan Dowse and Florence E. Murphy while on the alter in the 1900’s when William R. Dowse married Florence E. Murphy. When together built what is now the Dowse Sod House, a tourist attraction in Comstock, Nebraska. Within the house were three rooms: a large kitchen, dining and living room, and a first-floor bedroom. There was a stairway that also leads to an incomplete bedroom. The Dowse’s used wood furniture and iron beds, and cupboards were built by William, which were used in the kitchen. While living in the sod house, the Dowses were blessed with five sons who were born and raised there. William lived in this sod house for 50 years. Unfortunately he died on April 2, 1951, one day short of turning eighty years old.

Original Dowse Sod House: This is what the Dowse's house looked like before Curt and Philip Dowse refurnished it.

This is where the Dowse’s lived before Philip and Curt refurninshed the house.

Two years after William’s death, Florence moved to town and their second son, William Robert, Jr. and his family moved into the sod house. This was their home until 1959 when they decided to move elsewhere, leaving the house vacant for 25 years. Earlier in 1941, the sod house went through a devastating tornado that wiped out the entire Dowse’s surrounding buildings, including their windmill. However, the soddie remained and they still continued living there. The family also went through tough blizzards and depressions. Even though all of this happened, they still made the sod house a loving and happy home. Eventually, the windows were broken and doors were off of their hinges. There were also problems with the roof leaking. At that point, only animals, cows and swallows, used this space as their shelter and a place to get out of the sun in the summer. Although there were cattle using the sod house as shade and shelter, none of the walls were damaged, giving another chance for the Dowse family to fix up the space. Brothers, Philip and Curt Dowse, did just that in 1980, in the sod house where they had grown up. With help from the community and private donations, Philip and Curt raised over $5,000.00, which they used to restore the original sod house to the way it used to be. Now it’s a tourist attraction, where nearly 5,000 visitors have been. The Dowse sod house was registered as a National Register of Historic Places in 1986. The sod house has been featured in magazines such as Country Home, and Better Homes and Garden magazines. The sod house is a piece of history that should be remembered for a long time to come.

Dowse Sod House:

This is what the sod house looks like after the Philip and Curt refurnished it.