Last week I showed you a little of what we did in DeSmet, SD, with the Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Society. I forgot to mention, however, that Laura did not move to South Dakota. At the time it was the Dakota Territory.
This week we are going to the homestead site. I’ve decided to break this one up because there was so much to do there.
We only had a couple of hours at the homestead. It was enough to do everything, but I would like to spend more time the next time.
The site has many building reproductions and is very informative. Some of the buildings are full of displays, but many have people to help make the experience more real and interesting, especially for children.
The first building we went to was a school house. You can tell the girls are excited. (There is nothing quite like running children on the open prairie.) Inside was a stationary covered wagon on which they could place and LOTS of displays with photos and information about the Ingalls family and their travels.
We then went to a dugout house and a small shanty.
The above photo is a “half-shanty” which is what was usually built for a homestead claim. When Laura moved here, there were six people in the family. The quilt on the bottom right is the one bed. I cannot imagine living in such a small space, but definitely the bright side would be that one would not accumulate as much crap stuff.
We then went to a larger house. It was a full shanty (two bedrooms were normally the next addition), and it had a large sitting room added onto it. The sitting room was larger than the rest of the house combined. The Ingalls built a room onto their house for Mary’s organ.
At this house there was someone to show the girls how the Ingalls girls made paper into decorative designs for shelves, let them play the organ, and asked them to help with the laundry. First she sent them to the pump to get some water.
They had a tough time getting the water to come and wanted to quit, but their mean Mommy made them keep trying, and finally they were successful. (Though it would have taken a LONG time to get enough water for laundry at this rate of drip.)
After that they had to get their lye soap wet and wash a dish towel on a washboard.
Next was the wringer to get out the extra water. (I was grateful the helper pushed the cloth through.)
Then they hung their linens on the line to dry.
I loved seeing that crisp, white towel drying on the line. We were not there to take it off the line, but my guess is that after it dried, it smelled so clean and fresh!
The girls were amazed at how much time all of this took. They were beginning to realize that pioneer girl life did not involve as much play as they are accustomed to!
Next week I’ll show you more of the homestead.