Friday, August 17, 2012

Ingalls Homestead

Laura Ingalls Homestead in De Smet, South Dakota

Visiting Laura Ingalls Wilder's Homestead in De Smet, South Dakota was a dream come true for me.  I took my kids to the Homestead for the day on July 30th, 2012.  Pa Ingalls built their home and farm on the 160 acres allotted to him by the U.S. Government.  He needed to live there for 5 years and farm the land and then it would be his.  Laura's last 4 books beginning with By the Shores of Silver Lake were written about her life here in De Smet.  Silver Lake is within walking distance of the Homestead.

There is a lot to do here for old and young fans of the Little House book series.  When the Ingalls arrived here, there were no trees and so the cottonwoods on the homestead that stand today were planted by Pa over 100 years ago.  Here your family can enjoy a covered wagon ride, visit a one room school house similar to the one Laura taught at three miles up the road.  You can visit the church they attended next door.  Your children can make rope, a corn cob doll, go on a pony ride and pump water to drink and/or water the crops.  Here you can step inside a replica of their dugout, and shack as well as the house Pa eventually built the family and their barn.  Here is where they spent The Long Winter.

In the town of De Smet is the House that Pa built Ma when they moved to town and a short distance away is the cemetary where the whole family is buried (except Laura, Almonzo and Rose).  Laura's 1st child is buried there with her parents and sisters.  It is a short drive out of town and easy to find.

Laura and I are kindred spirits and have much in common besides our names.  We were both born in 67 (100 years apart), we are both teachers, writers and raised on a farm, lived in Minnesota, and have younger sisters.   When I graduated from college with my teaching degree my mom gave me a doll of Laura Ingalls.  I have visited three of her houses so far.  The one in Pepin, Wisconsin, Burr Oak, Iowa and now De Smet, South Dakota.  De Smet is a place you can stay the whole day and if you want rent a covered wagon and sleep in it for the night.  Who knew Literary places could be so much fun!  I highly recommend you spend the day here in De Smet with your family.

Here I am in a bonnet and dress in the Schoolhouse.  I have no idea how those girls can see in those bonnets.