Saturday, August 31, 2013

On The Trail of Laura Ingalls Wilder

"The Stove," a real luxury item back then. 
by Delores Miller

When our five children were small, one of the first joint gifts Santa Claus laid under the
Christmas tree was the complete set of Little House On The Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder. All read the books many times, until they became tattered and torn. Now, 35 years later the eleven grandchildren are reading the same books. I read this collection in 1945 when the Wisconsin Library sent boxes of books to our small country school.

Among the titles are Little House in the Big Woods, set in Pepin, Wisconsin where Laura was born in 1867. Little House on the Prairie depicts journeys in a covered wagon,  Farmer Boy, set in New York where Laura's husband Alonzo spent his childhood.  On the Banks of Plum Creek, set in Walnut Grove, Minnesota.  Long Winter was set in DeSmet, South Dakota. Russ read this often, and when we had a blizzard, he wanted to string a rope to the barn like Laura's Father had to do.  By The Shores of Silver Lake, took place a railroad surveyor's shack in DeSmet. Laura married Alonzo in 1885 and The First Four Years recalls when they lived on a tree claim before moving to Mansfield, Missouri

Now that travel is more convenient, we visit the historical sites mentioned in Laura's books: Pepin, Wisconsin; Walnut Grove, Minnesota; Mansfield, Missouri and DeSmet, South Dakota. Historical societies have put on pageants and plays depicting the books.

Laura Ingalls Wilder began writing her books in 1932 when she was 65 years old. Maybe there is hope for Delores to write commercially yet. Laura died in 1957 in Mansfield, Missouri at the age of 90, Alonzo died ten years before. They had one daughter Rose, also a writer, and all are buried in Mansfield. We have visited the cemetery.

We purchased the complete set of Laura's books from Used, they were about $50 for the nine books. The grandchildren enjoy them immensely.

If you want to learn about Pioneer life from the eyes of a child, re-read the Little House On The Prairie books. The television show is fake, nothing like what the show presents ever happened in the books.

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