The Visitor’s Guide to Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Homesites Part 2

Keep reading to see more of Laura’s homesites you can visit!

De Smet. South Dakota

Charles and Caroline Ingalls made their final move in 1879 to Dakota Territory, settling in the eventual town of De Smet. Laura would stay in De Smet for a combined total of 15 years. She based By the Shores of Silver Lake, The Long Winter, Little Town on the Prairie, and These Happy Golden Years in De Smet. Here, she befriended Mary Power and Ida Brown, courted and married Almanzo Wilder, and gave birth to two children.

The first stop to make while in De Smet is to the Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Society. They offer a guided tour of three original buildings and one replica. See the Surveyors’ House, where Laura lived during the first winter in Dakota Territory, the First School of De Smet, where Laura had the infamous teacher Eliza Jane Wilder, a replica of the Brewster School, where Laura taught when she was 15 years old, and the Ingalls Home on third street, which was the last home of Charles and Caroline Ingalls. Your guide will tell you about the family’s travels, their experiences in De Smet, and what happened to them later in life. After your tour you can browse the gift shop and visit an exhibit that displays items from the family. The Memorial Society is open year round for tours. Check out their website for exact details!

Click here to visit the Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Society’s website!

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The Surveyors’ House

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The Ingalls Home

The Ingalls Homestead is another stop visitors should make while in De Smet. The Ingalls lived there for 7 years before building their final home in town on third street. Charles’ original 159 acres is now owned by another family. They run a “Living History Farm” that offers many hands on activities. You can take a wagon ride, make a corncob doll, go to school in a one room schoolhouse, see animals, etc. They also have a gift shop and camping. Visitors can spend the night in a covered wagon, bring a tent, or an RV.   The original home and buildings no longer remain, but replica’s have been built to show visitors what their home could have looked like. The first acre of the original homestead is still owned by the Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Society and has the five cottonwood trees that Pa planted for Ma and the girls. See them for yourself while visiting De Smet!

Click here to visit the Ingalls Homestead website!

Next, visit the cemetery where the entire Ingalls family is buried except for Laura, Almanzo, and Rose. Then, take a self guided walking tour down main street to see the site of Pa’s store building, the Loftus Store, and many more!

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Pa’s Cottonwood Trees

 

 

Mansfield, Missouri

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Mansfield Museum

After many failed crops in De Smet, South Dakota, Laura and Almanzo decided to move to “The Land of the Big Red Apple” in Missouri. In 1894, they settled in the town of Mansfield, purchased land and a home that Laura called “Rocky Ridge Farm” , and settled down with Rose. Laura and Almanzo eventually became the successful farmers they always wanted to be and turned their one room cabin into a ten room farmhouse. It was in Mansfield where they finally achieved their American Dream and remained for the rest of their lives.

Today,  the Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Home & Museum offers a guided tour of Laura’s beloved farmhouse and the Rock House that Rose built for her parents. Your tour guide will tell you about Laura’s experiences in Mansfield, including details about her unique farmhouse and how it came to be. After your tour, you can spend time looking in the Museum, which houses artifacts from Laura and her family. See Pa’s fiddle, Laura’s original “Little House” manuscripts, Rose’s desk, and so much more. The Mansfield Museum has the biggest collection of Laura artifacts that any fan would love to see! Make sure to stop by the gift shop before you leave to browse books, clothes, and souvenirs to add to your Laura collection. The Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Home & Museum is open from March until the middle of November. Visit their website for exact details!

Stop by the Mansfield Cemetery to see the graves of Laura, Almanzo, and Rose and the Historic Town Square to see a sculpture of the famous author!

Click here to visit the Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Home & Museum website!

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Laura and Almanzo’s Farmhouse

 

Malone, New York

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Almanzo’s Boyhood Home

Almanzo Wilder was born on February 13, 1857 in Malone, New York. His boyhood home was a prosperous farm, which had been purchased by his father James in 1840. Almanzo’s future wife, Laura Ingalls, would write about her husband’s time in Malone in her book, Farmer Boy. The Wilder family remained in Malone until 1875. At that time, James sold the farm and moved his family to Spring Valley, Minnesota.

Today, Almanzo’s boyhood home still stands. The Wilder Homestead Association offers a guided tour of the house, reconstructed barns, and the museum. Learn more about Almanzo’s life in Malone and see artifacts from the family. Next, explore the grounds, which include a henhouse, pump house, and a replica of a one room schoolhouse. Stop by the gift shop before taking the walking trail to Trout River, where Almanzo helped wash sheep. The Wilder Homestead is open from the middle of May through the end of September. Check out their website for exact details!

Click here to visit the Wilder Homestead website!

Keystone, South Dakota

Keystone museum

Keystone Historical Museum

Carrie Ingalls Swanzey moved to Keystone, South Dakota in 1911. After a long career of working in the newspaper industry, Carrie was offered a manager position at the Keystone Recorder. She met David Swanzey and the two married in 1912. Carrie lived a comfortable life in Keystone. She became a stepmother to David’s two children and was very involved in the community.

The Keystone Historical Museum, a former Victorian schoolhouse, has many different exhibits pertaining to Keystone history. Learn more about the role mining played in the community and see rock collections, old photos, and some of Carrie’s memorabilia. Next, you can take the “Old Town” walking tour and learn more about the homes and businesses that were there when Keystone was exploding with growth. Check out the museum website to see their months and times of operation!

Click here to visit the Keystone Historical Museum website!

Other homesites to visit!

Danbury, Connecticut- The final home of Rose Wilder Lane

Crowley, Louisiana- Home of Eliza Jane Wilder and where Rose graduated high school

San Francisco, California- Home of Rose Wilder Lane Read our blog post on Rose’s home!

Spring Valley, Minnesota- Home of the Wilder family and Almanzo and Laura during 1890-1891 Visit Spring Valley! 

Westville, Florida- Home of Almanzo, Laura, and Rose during 1891-1892

Vinton, Iowa- Where Mary Ingalls went to college Learn more about Mary’s college experience!

Cuba, New York- Birthplace of Charles Ingalls

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2 comments on “The Visitor’s Guide to Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Homesites Part 2

  1. Terri says:

    I’d like to comment on two of the tourist areas open to the publice. The first is the area in De Smet that is also the location of Pa’s homestead. I first visited here 20 years ago before all of the tourist buildings were built and it was just …….land that Pa had plowed and planted corn and wheat on and Laura and Mary had walked upon. As I sat there, I heard the birds singing and imagined it was just like it was when the Ingalls family lived there. It was beautiful, peaceful and I loved it. So it takes a bit of getting used to when going back and seeing EVERYTHING that has been built on the homestead site and land. It is now a tourist trap. It will be very hard for anyone to visualize what it was like when the Ingalls lived there. The second comment is about Keystone and how wonderful their museum is. They are informed, talkative, helpful and they have Ma’s china shepherdess…………Their proof that it is the shepherdess is that in Laura’s writings she says that “Carrie now has the china shepherdess” and at a much later date it was found wrapped in paper amongst Carrie’s things. But it is nothing like what Laura described it as. I will leave that to be a surprise for you but be prepared……….

  2. John A. Bass says:

    Thank you guys so much for including the newer historical home sites!

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