Last month after my semi-annual sojourn to Missouri, we took a “side trip” to North Dakota. (Prince Charming is from North Dakota.) But on the way to North Dakota from Missouri is South Dakota. And South Dakota boasts De Smet which was one of the places Laura Ingalls Wilder lived. Like many American girls, I became smitten with Laura when my elementary school teacher read the “Little House” books to us during rainy recess periods. I related to Laura because I had mud-brown hair as did she (and all the charmed people had golden hair), and I was born in Mansfield, Missouri, where she lived a great deal of her married life.
Her house in Mansfield has been turned into a museum, but I have not taken my children there, even though we visit so often. We took many field trips there when I was in elementary school, an I must admit I was a bit bored with it. Touring houses full of antiques does not hold the attention the average 5- and 7-year-old, so I decided long ago to wait until my girls were older to do that. Plus we are near there twice a year, so we can do that any time.
But DeSmet is different. There are two areas devoted to Laura Ingalls Wilder. One is mostly in the town of DeSmet, and one is at the old homestead. The Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Society runs the town portion, and they have some very fun things to do. They have collected several original buildings, or point out where you can see them, and made replicas of others. We did not tour houses and schools for the same reason we have not visited Mansfield (though I personally REALLY wanted to–but we’ll be back there again), but they had a fun scavenger hunt that was just perfect for our girls. They got to ride in a “covered wagon” all over town while Prince Charming pulled them. At various stops (landmarks from Laura’s books), they found postcards to put in a mini scrapbook. They had a blast. They were Laura and Mary, I was Ma, Prince Charming was Pa, and our dog was Jack. (This happens quite often, but they were really in the spirit of it there.)
This post includes a few stops we made in the above wagon. Next week I will take you to the Homestead.