Laura fans will be delighted to learn about our newly published book that contains more than 200 vintage and modern photographs of De Smet.
The book is called Images of America: De Smet and it can be purchased online from our gift shop by clicking here.
Last year, we posted on the blog about some of the ongoing projects at the Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Society. The first project was a collectible set of porcelain keepsake ornaments created by Dianne. The second project was this book! This project was undertaken by Sharon Peterson and Cheryl, the Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Society director.
Cheryl said, “We started the book in 2014 and finished it in 2015. We worked with Acadia Publishing and they had very strict deadlines for us. I think the first draft came to us on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and we had to have it returned on the following Tuesday! It was a tough timeline but really great working with them.”
Though the book is published by the Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Society, the two creative minds behind the book were Cheryl Palmlund and Sharon Peterson.
“I did most of the photo selection, editing and file conversions,” said Cheryl. “Sharon is the writer, so I asked if she would be interested in doing the captions. We were a good team!”
The following text is the description located on the back cover of the book:
“Hordes of pioneers moved west at a time when Dakota Territory was still unsettled. When the railroad came to town, this land of opportunity soon became a small town called De Smet. Through the years, muddy streets and wooden shacks were replaced with brick and mortar, and the little town grew into a county seat. The hallmark of De Smet comes from the pen of Laura Ingalls Wilder, when she wrote five of her Little House books set in the community. Ensuing years saw the demolition of several of De Smet’s heritage buildings, but others remain today, and the validity of these structures bring untold numbers to view them. Long-standing traditions, such as Old Settler’s Day, have remained within the borders of the community and are still an exciting part of the town’s history.
The Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Society is a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving the heritage of Laura Ignalls Wilder and the community of De Smet. Organized in 1957, the society has hosted readers of the Little House books from all over the world who come to visit the historical treasures of the “Little Town on the Prairie.”
The Images of America series celebrates the history of neighborhoods, towns, and cities across the country. Using archival photographs, each title presents the distinctive stories from the past that shape the character of the community today. Arcadia is proud to play a part in the preservation of local heritage, making history avaliable to all.”
Cheryl said, “When we saw his collection, that was the first time we started to think about doing a book like this. Eventually, we decided doing only postcards was too restrictive, so we opened up our search to any photographs related to De Smet. The photographs in the book came from the Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Society, De Smet Depot Museum, other known collectors and a few individual families around De Smet.”
The book is divided into the following chapters:
- In the Beginning
- Memories of Main Street
- A Firm Foundation
- Reading, ‘Riting, and ‘Rithmetic
- That’s Entertainment
- Aches and Pains
- The Old Neighborhood
- Postcards from the Past
“My favorite photograph is located on the first page,” Cheryl mused. “As one of the authors, I was able to make sure that this photo was included! It shows the backside of a mainstreet building. That building was my mother’s cafe, so it had a lot of personal meaning to me. I spent nearly all of my time there from the ages of seven to 14.”
“My second favorite photo is located on the bottom of page 66 in the book, it shows the front side of the cafe,” Cheryl explained.
This collection of photos preserves the local history for present and future generations. Readers will enjoy spend hours studying the carefully selected photographs.
“Old photos are a piece of history,” Cheryl explained. “Each photo can tell you a story if you take the time to study it. For example, it’s possible to date a photo based on whether or not there are power lines by the road. Or, all of the ways that De Smet’s main street changed over the years: from a dirt street to a paved road. It is amazing. You can even see the progression of technology. For example, when the local stores converted from using gas lights to electric ones. There really is so much to learn about the way life was back then by studying old photos.”
Visit DiscoverLaura.org to purchase a copy of this book. The proceeds are used to help preserve and share the Laura Ingalls Wilder history. Thank you for supporting our mission.