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!
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!
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!
Pa’s Cottonwood Trees
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!
Laura and Almanzo’s Farmhouse
Malone, New York
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!
Keystone, South Dakota
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!
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