In 1976, Betsy and Deb had their photos taken at the Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Society in front of Pa’s dresser in the Surveyors’ House. Betsy was seven and Deb was four, in the photo both sisters clutch a Charlotte doll. Their mother, Nancy, purchased the dolls for them during their trip. Their photograph later appeared on the front page of the Lore Newsletter.
Nancy and her daughters were reading the Little House books together. Nancy decided to bring the books to life for her daughters by taking a road trip to De Smet.
In 2014, the sisters returned to the Little Town on the Prairie to relive their exciting childhood vacation. However, on this trip, they had a new family member along – Deb’s daughter Claire. Deb, Betsy, their parents and Claire visited the Historic Homes for a second time.
Just like her mother, Deb has been reading the Little House books to her daughter. Claire arrived at the Historic Homes wearing the same prairie-style dress that her Aunt Deb wore back in 1976. To make this special family story even better, Claire also had both original Charlotte dolls along for the ride, too.
Two years ago, Betsy was making a move to South Dakota. She said that one of the first things she did was determine how far her new hometown was from De Smet. All three generations enjoyed the Historic Homes tour and made one more special stop at the gift shop. Carrying on the family tradition, little Claire was given her very own Charlotte doll and a 9-patch quilt.
The family had an entire “Laura weekend” planned in De Smet; including taking tours and going to the Pageant. Deb, Betsy and Claire even planned to get a unique pioneer experience – sleeping in a covered wagon. However, their parents wisely elected to stay at a local hotel.
Memorial Society Director, Cheryl Palmlund said, “This was such a fun story for us. We see a lot of one generation reading to the next, and then the next reading the books to their own children, too. In this family, three generations have loved and shared Laura’s Little House books. Now, it is just up to Claire to carry on the family tradition.”