Driving up a country road, listening to the rocks crackle under the tires and watching the dust cloud form behind the car I see up in front of me a sign that says, “Ingalls Homestead, Home of Laura Ingalls Wilder, 1880-1885″. Needless to say, as a fan of Little House on the Prairie, I was super excited.
While covering a show in the lower south-eastern side of South Dakota for a few days in September, I was able to take a little road trip and decided to visit the Ingalls museum. On this blog, I will show you what I saw while there.
I didn’t know horses normally had chains around their neck. I’m not sure if this was with the Ingalls homestead but it was across the street from it.
When you drive up to the museum, you will see two covered wagons on the porch. When you open the door, you see a lot of wonderful knick-knacks and souvenirs from wall to wall. A greeter will ask for you to step into a room with another covered wagon where you can watch a short film about the Ingalls family and their journeys.
Afterwards, you will pay for your tickets to view the grounds, receive a map, ride in a horse-drawn carriage, learn how to make a rope, spin wool, watch and even participate in additional crafts such as straw binding, make corn husk dolls and more.
The first stop is the tower to view the grounds. Laura stated in “Pioneer Girl”, the unpublished work of Laura Ingalls-Wilder, that it was fun to explore the farm and how many things of interest could be found on 160 acres.
This house is filled with Laura’s adventures, an old trunk, another covered wagon, and a lot of photos.
This covered wagon is similar to what they would travel in from state to state. Covered wagons might travel 15-20 miles daily with a team of horses pulling.
Here, you see West Bethany Lutheran Church, the church was established in 1881 in Erwin, South Dakota; the building was built in 1905 seven miles north of DeSmet; the first service was held on November 5, 1905; the last service was held November 16, 1969. The church was later moved to the Ingalls Homestead in 2009.
This is an example of their dugout sod house that they lived in while in Minnesota. It was built in the side of a hill and was very compact. Sod was the most available material around since the area was pretty scarce of trees. Could you imagine living in a home this compact with all your kids? The second photo is showing half of the inside of the dugout sod house.
This is the Burvee house which was built over 125 years ago, it’s a Shanty house which is similar to what the Ingalls lived in while in South Dakota.
What you see below is a manure spreader. As the wheels turn, they power the chain and beaters which move the manure through the wagon. It was used regularly throughout the summer.
Inside Ma’s little house.
The back of Ma’s little house.
Inside Flindt’s Garage, you will be able to make a rope, see how grain is cleaned, twist hay and more.
This is a grindstone that would sharpen tools.
This is a potato cutter, it would slice seed potatoes into uniform sizes which was then the perfect size for the potato planter.
Here are some more of what is inside the Garage.
After watching how the hay was wrapped up, you could catch a ride on the horse-drawn-carriage to the schoolhouse. In the schoolhouse, the teacher explained a lot of the history and how things were different for the kids than compared to now. Did you know that things were reversed back in the day? Kids went to school in the winter for 3 months & then stayed home for 9 months to work hard labor in the fields to help bring money in.
This is the surveyor’s house, they lived in this house in 1879-1880. In Laura’s book, she talks about how Pa and the family celebrated their Christmas in the late 1800s here. Next to this house is another museum with more souvenirs. There, you will also receive a map of the town showing different historical places of the Ingalls family. You will also be shown where the cemetery is located.
This is DeSmet’s first school and is where Laura & Carrie attended school in 1880 and 1881. Laura spoke about this school in her book, “The Long Winter”.
About a couple of miles away from the Surveyor’s house, you are able to go visit the Ingalls’ gravesite. Laura & Almanzo are not in this cemetery as they had already moved before they passed away.
If you have visited the other Homestead locations, I would love to hear from you.
I really enjoyed my short visit and really want to go to the other ones too.