Friday, September 14, 2012

Laura Ingalls Wilder in De Smet, SD - part 1

Laura Ingalls Wilder moved to De Smet, South Dakota in 1879. Many of her books are based on her time in De Smet: By the Shores of Silver Lake, Little Town on the Prairie, Long Winter, These Happy Golden Years & The First Four Years. These stories are why I love the books so much. Laura, Almanzo & their daughter, Rose, eventually moved to Mansfield, Missouri. But, Pa, Ma & Mary lived the rest of their lives in De Smet and are buried in a cemetery in town. More than 100 years later, in 2006, we took a road trip that was planned around visiting the homes of LIW in De Smet & Walnut Grove. I experienced so much about LIW that I'm going to split this post into 3 parts, then do 3 more posts on what we saw in Walnut Grove.

Laura's family moved to De Smet even before it became an official town in 1880.

De Smet, in 2006, was (and probably still is) a small, quiet town. To see an interactive map of De Smet in the 1880's similar to the one drawn by Laura visit the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum.

The main street through town is Calumet Avenue. Located on Calumet is The Loftus Store! This is the original building. In the book Long Winter, Laura tells about Mr. Loftus selling wheat to all the starving people in town.

Throughout the town, Little Town on the Prairie is printed on the street signs.

They also have Little Town on the Prairie written on the banners in De Smet. I am 100% tourist. I love seeing all the little details a town does to remember their history.

Part of Highway 14 is dedicated as the Laura Ingalls Wilder Historical Highway.

The Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Society has a walking tour through town. I left the boys at our camp site & took a couple hours to do a walking tour. I loved it. I believe they also have a guided tour. But, I was kind of in a hurry so I chose to do the walking tour by myself. At the beginning of the tour was a gift shop, the Surveyor's house and a replica of the Brewster School. The rest of the tour was within walking distance from the starting point.

The Surveyor's House
Laura and her family lived in the Surveyor's House during the winter of 1879-1880 as mentioned in By the Shores of Silver Lake. This is the original house, but has been moved to this location.

Another view of the Surveyor's House

We couldn't take pics inside the Surveyor's House, so I bought this postcard instead.

Replica of the Brewster School
At the age of 15, Laura first started teaching 12 miles from home at the Brewster School. As you can see it was a tiny.

Inside the one room schoolhouse were two rows of desks. Each desk had a slate & a McGuffy Reader. The seats do not look comfy, and I'm sure the kids were not allowed to fidget.

Hay twists for the fire when they ran out of coal.

The next place I was excited to visit was the house that Pa built. Pa quit farming and the family moved to town. Pa, Ma & Mary lived in this house until they died. The house was eventually sold to a private family & later purchased by the Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Society - thank goodness. What a treasure for all us LIW fans.

Front of the Ingalls' Home

Back of the Ingalls' Home

Since I couldn't take pics in the Ingalls' Home, I bought this postcard. It is decorated similarly to the way it was when the Ingalls' lived there.

Not far from the Ingalls' home was De Smet's first school. Laura & Carrie walked to this school in town from their homestead just outside of town.

I believe the LIW Memorial Society is renovating this old school building. But, when I visited De Smet it wasn't something you could go in to. There was just a sign out front and a plaque on the wall.

1 comment:

  1. Im enjoying all of your posts. Wouldn't it be neat to be able to go visit the homes you grew up in, and have them exactly as they were?


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