Walnut shingles and tongue-in-groove floors
Many early log houses in Kentucky were built quickly and roughly. They were small structures with dirt floors and leaky roofs. They sheltered a pioneer family from wild animals, hostile Indians, and the worst of the weather. Perhaps when the fields were cleared, the barns and the fences were built, and a few harvests had been made, a larger, better house might be built.
This log house, built in Todd County sometime before 1809, was exceptionally well-made:
There were a few cabins which were quite pretentious and one of these had the first shingle roof in the county. It belonged to Adams, who sold out to Kennedy in 1809, and is thus described by the latter: "Adams was a thrifty, industrious man, and said to my father, 'I gad, I thought I would build the best and finest house in all the country.' It was constructed of large, hewed white oak logs, twenty-four feet long by eighteen feet wide, covered with black walnut shingles rounded at the butt end, and every one put on with walnut pegs, bored through shingles and lath with a brace and bit. It was a good roof, and lasted about thirty years.
"Then the lower and upper floors were laid with poplar plank, sawed by hand with a whip-saw, nicely dressed, tongued and grooved, and put down with pegs. Three windows two feet square, with nice shutters, but not a pane of glass, nor a nail in all the house, save in the three doors. For these a few nails were made by a blacksmith, his brother, Andy Adams. The chimneys were of stone, the first in the country, and contained at least 150 loads of rock. The fire-places were six feet wide, with wooden mantel-pieces." -- History of Todd County, Ky., published by F. A. Battey Publishing Co. Chicago, 1884.
Source: Kentucky: A History of the State by William Henry Perrin, J. H. Battle, and G. C. Kniffin (p. 209). Published in 1888 by F. A. Battey and Company, Louisville and Chicago.
Todd County, KY, is just east of Christian County where I live. The Todd/Christian county line is only a few miles from my home. I am familiar with the terrain of Todd County, and I suspect that this house may have been built in "North Todd", as we say here. White oak, black walnut, and tulip poplar were chosen because they were some of the most decay-resistant woods available.
A log house built in 1793, near Harrodsburg, Kentucky. Kitchen (at rear) with dogtrot added later. Photographed in 1940. Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Historic American Buildings Survey, HABS KY,84-HARBU.V,2-