A Grateful Heart

“I’m sure we all know in our hearts we have a great deal for which to be thankful.”  Laura Ingalls Wilder

by Dr. Laura McLemore, President of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Legacy and Research Association

As 2017 draws to a close, so does my term as President of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Legacy and Research Association. When I reflect on my term in office, beginning in December of 2015, I am filled with a variety of emotions. If you will indulge me, I would like to share my thoughts and memories with you.

In the winter of 2008, I, along with Connie Ryle Neumann, Amy Lauters, Sandra Hume, Barbara Hawkins and Amy Finney sat in the warm kitchen of the farmhouse at Little House on the Prairie. The six of us spent an enjoyable day talking about Laura Ingalls Wilder, Rose Wilder Lane and the state of research in the field of Wilder studies. It was at this gathering that the seeds of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Literary Society were planted. In the summer of 2009 a similar group met in De Smet, an event that unfortunately, I was not able to attend. It was at this event that the Literary Society would be chartered as the Laura Ingalls Wilder Legacy and Research Association.  I joined the board of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Legacy and  Research Association (LIWLRA) shortly after Laurapalooza 2012.

As I look back on the accomplishments of the LIWLRA since our charter in 2009 I am filled with a sense of pride.  In our relatively short tenure we have amassed 410 individual members with  140 active members. We have established an active volunteer board, currently consisting of 11 members who serve rotating terms of 3 years. Our website at www.beyondlittlehouse.com is in it’s second generation and will be totally revamped in the coming year if all goes well. We have a visible social media presence on Twitter and Facebook. Posts are sometimes viewed by thousands of Facebook followers.  Most notably, we have held four very successful international conferences called LauraPalooza in 2010, 2012, 2015, and 2017, all done with volunteer help on very limited funds. I feel that our Sesquicentennial conference this past summer was one of our best. Our conferences have featured many prominent or “up and coming” Wilder authors and scholars including William Anderson, John Miller, Caroline Fraser, Marta McDowell, Pamela Smith Hill, Nancy McCabe, Renee Graef and many others.  We have also become a sort of clearing house for those involved in new research about the life of Laura Ingalls Wilder and subjects closely related to her and to her work.

The next feeling is a bit hard to name.  The closest word I can find is satisfaction.  We want to be a top notch non-profit group and the leading source of information on Laura Ingalls Wilder.  We listen to our membership and monitor what is happening in the world of Wilder.  As a board, we have dreams for what we can become and we have taken steps to get there.  In 2013 we formally adopted bylaws and they will be reviewed and updated in 2018. In 2016 we were granted 501c3 Tax Exempt Status thanks to the hard work of former board member, Linda Starbuck.   This allows us to officially call ourselves a non-profit association. One of my goals as President was to insure that the board has the opportunity to meet face-to-face.  Our monthly board meetings occur via conference call.  We also communicate through a closed Facebook group. We get to know each other through these phone conversations but many of us have never met in person.  We held our first face-to-face meeting at Laurapalooza 2017 in Springfield, Missouri.  We worked hard that day and walked away a stronger, more committed board.  The major product of that day was another of my personal goals as President.  While Laurapalooza is so worthwhile, it is not and cannot be the sole focus of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Legacy and Research Association.  We need to grow beyond simply hosting a conference every two years.  To move ahead we need a strategic plan and now, thanks to our day of labor last July, we have one.  It is slated for final approval at our December 2o17 Board of Directors meeting and will be published for the membership after it is approved.  I think it sets a course for the business of the Association for years to come.  Yes, I am very satisfied.

I am also optimistic.  Naysayers have questioned whether the Association is sustainable.  I think as board members become weary in their work they have sometimes questioned the future of the Association as well.  Some who participate in our social media conversations don’t understand the scope of our mission or feel that we as a board are insular or cliquish.  I disagree.  Yes, our work is difficult.  Yes, we get tired.  Yes, we as a board or conference committee work together as a tight group.  But, that’s part of building and establishing something new.  I am optimistic! I look at our accomplishments and I know that we are fulfilling  our mission.  I listen to our discussions and know that we have a strong and dedicated group working to sustain the Association.  I see our strategic plan and believe that we have set the course for the future.  I read the social media conversations as folks debate where the next Laurapalooza should be held and I know that our followers are excited about the future.  Yes, I am optimistic about the future of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Legacy and Research Association.

I feel a great sense of gratitude. I am grateful for the dedicated people who have served on the Board of Directors since 2009, and who have given of their time and talent to grow this organization.  They have been true servant leaders.  I am grateful for the support of people like William Anderson and John Miller who have shared their expertise and also their time through the years.  Because of the silent auctions held at every Laurapalooza since 2012, we as an association have been able to contribute thousands of dollars to the Laura Ingalls Wilder home sites.  I am awestruck by the generous support of bidders and that they have made it possible to monetarily support Laura’s homes. I am most grateful for the membership of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Legacy and Research Association.  It is because of them…because of you…that we continue to exist.  Your support makes this association possible and as President, I thank you.  My heart is grateful.

My hope is that the Laura Ingalls Wilder Legacy and Research Association continues to grow.  That is where you come in.  The association needs you.  Please join if you haven’t done so already.  There is a link to a membership application at the top of this page.  Please keep your membership current each year, not just during conference years.  Consider serving on the board or on a conference committee.  Begin working on a proposal for a presentation  at our next conference in 2019.  Ask about writing a guest blog post to share new or interesting ideas.  We need your support, we need your talent, we need you!

Happy Holidays!

Dr. Laura McLemore


Posted in Administrivia, LauraPalooza 2010: Legacies, LauraPalooza 2012, LauraPalooza 2015, LauraPalooza 2017, LIWLRA Communication, People, Quotations from Laura, Uncategorized Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,

Protecting their Land: The Ingallses, the Wilders, and the Married Women’s Property Acts

Guest Blog Author: Caroline Fraser

A few years ago when I was doing research in De Smet for my forthcoming biography, Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder, I was lucky enough to find in the Loftus Store one of the models of Pa Ingalls’ Store, developed by Richard Kurz, Jr.   A packet with a 1/48 scale model of Charles Ingalls’s store printed on heavy card stock, the kit also included assembly notes, an invaluable history of the building written by Nancy S. Cleaveland, and Kurz’s essay on how the store was visually reconstructed. 

That store was, of course, where the Ingalls family spent the “Hard Winter,” along with their inconvenient guests—George Masters (brother of Laura’s rival Genevieve Masters and one of several models for Wilder’s character, the notorious Nellie Oleson), Maggie Masters, and their ill-timed baby boy, born not long before the winter set in.  Thanks to Kurz’s and Cleaveland’s research, I was able to “see” much more clearly the grim conditions facing the nine people trapped together for months in the back room of a building with a cramped attic, the whole structure scarcely larger than a one-car garage.  (Kurz measured the building at 14’2” wide by 17’10” high by 24’10” deep).  Imagine the squalid conditions:  the severe cold and drafts caused by constant blizzard winds, the crying of the baby, the lack of privacy, the hunger, and the fear.  Wilder, of course, left the Masters family out of her novel, The Long Winter, still bitterly resenting them decades later:  In her memoir, Pioneer Girl, she said that George selfishly gobbled more than his share of potatoes and shirked doing chores.

So this past summer, attending the LauraPalooza 2017 academic conference, I was thrilled to hear Richard’s talk on his recreation of the building.  Describing the history of the Ingallses’ property purchases in depth, he raised an important question that puzzled him:  Why did Charles Ingalls transfer the store lot to his wife’s name?  

I think I may have an answer to that question.  There was, in fact, a marked pattern of female ownership, or transfer of property, in both the Ingalls and Wilder families.  In 1880, Charles Ingalls did indeed sell his corner lot on Calumet Avenue (Lot 21, Block 4) and “all his personal property” to his wife, essentially transferring it to her name alone.  In 1886, Caroline Ingalls purchased two lots on Third Street in her name, from Eliza Jane Wilder.  (This would be where Charles built his family’s last home, which still stands).  In 1892, Laura E. Wilder bought a lot in De Smet, in the neighborhood known as Brown’s Addition, in her name, but when it was sold, two years later, both Laura and her husband Almanzo made the sale.  Most significantly, in 1894, after Laura, Almanzo, and their daughter Rose made their long journey to the Ozarks in Missouri, it was she alone who purchased the forty acres that would become Rocky Ridge Farm.  

That puzzled me too, for a long time.  Having studied the original manuscript of The First Four Years, with its litany of debts, many attributed to Almanzo, I knew that Laura had included a sentence questioning her husband’s prudence, a sentence cut from the published book:  “How much could she depend on Manly’s judgment, she wondered.”   I’d also uncovered in the Kingsbury County court records a suit filed against Almanzo in 1887, the day after Laura’s birthday, by Harthorn & Son—De Smet’s so-called “Red Front Store”—for the poignant sum of nine dollars.  Almanzo promptly paid the debt, but it was doubtless a humiliating moment.  Did all this mean that Laura didn’t trust her husband? 

Or was there some other explanation?  I talked to historians at the Homestead National Monument and other sites, searching for possible tax implications.  Was there some obscure benefit to putting property in a woman’s name?  Nothing turned up.  But eventually, I came across something that may explain Charles Ingalls’ transfer of property to his wife, as well as Caroline Ingalls’ purchase of the Third Street property in her name and the Wilders’ rationale for placing Rocky Ridge in Laura’s name: The Married Women’s Property Acts

As I would learn, these were state laws enacted to protect women’s property from the catastrophic consequences of economic depressions and “panics.”  Such crises had afflicted the Ingalls family for generations.  It’s widely assumed, for example, that Charles Ingalls’s father, Lansford, may have left New York state in the long aftermath of the Panic of 1837, an event that triggered a prolonged and severe depression and sent thousands westward.  At that time, married women were “civilly dead” in the eyes of the law, as Elizabeth Cady Stanton observed at Seneca Falls in 1848.  Women whose husbands lost their homes and property to foreclosure or bankruptcy could be turned out onto the street, with their children. 

To address that peril, beginning in the 1830s, states began to enact laws allowing women to own, keep, and (with various exceptions), control their own property.  Far from being a moral recognition of women’s rights, the laws were meant largely as a practical matter, to prevent women and children from becoming indigent or homeless based on the financial misfortunes suffered—or caused—by their husbands.  The laws varied widely, state by state, but many of them allowed women who owned property in their own names to avoid having their homes or “separate property” seized by their husbands’ creditors.  Dakota Territory (and later South Dakota) and Missouri had such regulations on the books, the Territory’s law coming into effect in 1877, and Missouri’s much earlier, in 1849.

We can’t ask Charles and Caroline Ingalls or Laura and Almanzo Wilder whether they meant to take advantage of these laws.  But my assumption is that Laura had every intention of protecting and securing her family’s assets, especially after the Wilders’ disastrous early years, marked by debt, drought, and displacement.  We may never know for sure.  But one thing we do know:  Laura Ingalls Wilder—who would spend a decade handling complex financial transactions for the Federal Farm Loan program—was her father’s daughter and a very smart cookie. 


Caroline Fraser is the editor of the Library of America’s two-volume edition of Wilder’s Little House books and the author of Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder, an Amazon Best Book of November, on sale from Metropolitan Books on November 21, 2017.  She attended her first LauraPalooza this summer and gave on a talk on the U.S.—Dakota War of 1862.  She’s looking forward to finally having time to build the model of Pa Ingalls’ Store. 

Posted in 150 Years of Laura Ingalls Wilder, Almanzo Wilder, Charles Ingalls (Pa), LIW-Related Items, Research, The First Four Years

LIW Birthday Celebrations Across the Country.

Help celebrate the 150 th anniversary of the birth of Laura Ingalls Wilder, author of the beloved Little House series of books at these Libraries. Laura was born on Feb 7, 1867. Laura enthusiast, Judy Green will bring Laura and her stories to life for these events.
Contact the libraries for registration or more info.
Sunday February 5, 2017 at 3:00 PM
Bexley Public Library (Columbus area)
2411 E Main St.
Bexley, Ohio 42309
Tuesday, February 7, 2017 at 6:00 PM
St Mary’s Community Public Library
140 S. Chestnut St.
St Mary’s, Ohio 43885


Friday, February 17, 2017 at 1:00 PM

Creston Branch, Wooster Public Library

116 S. Main St.
Creston, Ohio 44212

Posted in 150 Years of Laura Ingalls Wilder, Announcements, Uncategorized

Little Houses, Mighty Legacy: Celebrating 150 Years of Laura Ingalls Wilder


LauraPalooza 2017

 Little Houses, Mighty Legacy: Celebrating 150 Years of Laura Ingalls Wilder

The Laura Ingalls Wilder Legacy and Research Association is pleased to sponsor the fourth LauraPalooza conference, to be held at the University Plaza Hotel in Springfield, Missouri on July 12–14, 2017.

Additional location, lodging, and registration information will be released at a later date.  We will open a block of rooms with special group rates in plenty of time for you to book your room ahead of the conference!


Call for Papers:

We now invite submissions of paper, panel, and workshop proposals for review and possible acceptance for presentation.

The theme of this year’s conference captures the 150th anniversary of Laura’s birth – a sesquicentennial to celebrate! Presentations may wish to focus on lasting impacts of Laura’s life and legacy in all related subject areas. Of course, we also welcome viewpoints on those who were closest to Laura – her husband and daughter, the Ingalls family members, and Laura’s friends and sphere of influence. Potential presenters are welcome to interpret the theme as they like.

“LauraPalooza” embodies the community spirit, work ethic, and social interaction embraced by the Ingalls and Wilder families. Academic presentations mingle with dime socials and spelling bees. Join scholars, writers, and professionals who specialize in Ingalls and Wilder literary, historical, and cultural impacts.

Topics may include:

  • Recognition of the impact of Laura Ingalls Wilder on society, culture, history, education, and other areas of interest
  • The broad influence that the “Little House” stories have had on American popular culture
  • The history and imagery of the books and their cultural, educational, political, and social influences
  • The preservation of American folk music, food, and handwork
  • The strategic and political influence of farming and farming culture in American history
  • The long-term ramifications of the 1862 Homestead Act on American culture
  • The intersection of the Ingalls and Wilder families with Missouri’s culture and history
  • The ever–widening circle of Rose’s politically Libertarian belief structures
  • Historical racism and its lasting effects
  • New discoveries in individual research that add to the legacies of Laura, the Ingalls family, and the Wilder family
  • Any other way you might interpret the legacies of the Ingalls and Wilder families


Submit your proposal in the form of a 200- to 1,000-word abstract, outlining your idea and research, by the end of the day on Rose Wilder Lane’s birthday: December 5, 2016. All proposals should include a 200-word bio as would be appropriate for the conference program. Panel proposals should include bios for all panelists and his/her topic of discussion. Workshop proposals should include an outline of the workshop curriculum and materials or room setup needed. Be sure to include all contact information.

Please note: The Call for Papers is now CLOSED.

Abstracts should be sent via email to Dr. Barbara Mayes Boustead, conference co-chair, at windbarb@gmail.com. Acceptance notifications will be sent out via email on Laura Ingalls Wilder’s birthday: February 7, 2017. Those with accepted proposals will be expected to register for and attend the LauraPalooza 2017 conference.

More information about the conference, including logistical information such as meeting location and registration, featured speakers, and other announcements will be posted at www.laurapalooza.com and www.beyondlittlehouse.com.

Posted in 150 Years of Laura Ingalls Wilder, Announcements, Laura's Legacy, LauraPalooza 2017, Mansfield Tagged with: , , , , , ,

Preserving the Legacy Through Unwavering Support

LIWLRA Board Member and Laurapalooza Auction Organizer Connie Neumann presents a $1000 donation to Mrs. Jean Coday, Director Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Home & Museum.

LIWLRA Board Member and Laurapalooza Auction Organizer Connie Neumann presents a $1000 donation to Mrs. Jean Coday, Director
Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Home & Museum.

Have you ever been the lucky winner of an item at one of the Laurapalooza Auctions?  Ever wondered where the money raised by these auctions goes?  Do you know how the Laura Ingalls Wilder Legacy and Research Association actually supports and preserves  the legacy of Laura  and the museums dedicated to her memory?

One of the highlights of each Laurapalooza Conference is the auctioning of Little House related items donated by attendees, speakers and supporters.  Items such as copies of Pa’s Big Green Book, signed prints by illustrator Renee Graef, quilts made by members and first edition copies of Little House books were just a few of the treasures available for bidding at each of the three past auctions.  While it is fun for our members to win one of these special items, the real purpose of each auction is to raise money that goes directly back to the homesites through monetary donations.  In 2013, LIWLRA was able to donate $1000 from LP 12’s auction to Rocky Ridge going toward their building fund of their new museum and archives that just opened this spring.

Because of your generous donations,  the 2015 Laurapalooza Auction raised over $2000 in proceeds.  The LIWLRA Board decided to gift two homesites this year.  If you attended the wonderful tour of De Smet you most likely visited the facilities of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Homes Association.  To thank them for their hospitality and to help them purchase much needed archival equipment, the LIWLRA is donating $1000 to the De Smet museum this spring.

Additionally, Connie Neumann, LIWLRA board member, and LIWLRA President Dr. Laura McLemore were thrilled to present Mrs. Jean Coday, Director of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Home and Museum, a check for $1000 on behalf of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Legacy and Research Association.  In addition to many LIWLRA members, Neumann and McLemore were in attendance at the dedication of the beautiful new museum at Rocky Ridge Farm on April 22 in Mansfield, Missouri.  Mrs. Coday was delighted to receive this donation and promised that it would be put to good use.

Many thanks to those of you who donated items to the LP15 auction and to those of you who purchased those items.  As you look forward to LP17, be thinking about what you could possibly donate to this auction.  The more items donated, the more our organization can help preserve the legacy of Laura Ingalls Wilder with “unwavering support for the homesites” as our mission states.  Thank you!

Posted in Administrivia, Announcements, Crafting, Cultural Impact, De Smet -- General, De Smet -- LIWMS, Homesites, Museums and Attractions, Laura's Legacy, LauraPalooza 2010: Legacies, LauraPalooza 2012, LauraPalooza 2015, Little House in the News, LIW-Related Items, LIWLRA Communication, Mansfield, People, Uncategorized Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Ribbon-Cutting for Mansfield’s New Museum at Rocky Ridge

Until this year, the “museum” portion of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Home and Museum in Mansfield, Missouri was housed inadequately. Adjacent to the farmhouse lovingly built by Almanzo Wilder (with help from local carpenters, particularly in the final phase of construction) and designed by his wife, Laura, the museum was constructed in 1971 and looked it. Beyond that lay the combination bookstore/gift shop in a smaller, separate structure. Everything was, in a word, crowded.

The brand-new Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum in Mansfield, Missouri

The brand-new Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum in Mansfield, Missouri (Sandra Hume photo)

Rocky Ridge Farm was Laura Ingalls Wilder’s home for over sixty years. It’s where she raised her daughter, Rose, from the age of seven. It’s where she found her footing as a writer and ultimately—in her sixties—penned what would become the Little House series of books. Over the past few years under the leadership of longtime museum director Jean Coday, the board of the museum has worked to raise funds to improve the museum. This year, finally, the fruits of their labor were finalized and the musem opened its doors to the public, complete with an official ribbon-cutting ceremony. Members of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Legacy and Research Association were on hand to witness this monumental event.

(For TV news footage from the dedication, click here.)

The view of the museum from the lawn of Rocky Ridge farmhouse (photo courtesy LIWLRA member Lauri Goforth)

The view of the museum from the lawn of Rocky Ridge farmhouse (photo courtesy LIWLRA member Lauri Goforth)

The new museum sits just down the hill towards the center of Mansfield from the farmhouse. Inside is ample space for the bookstore, gift shop, and restrooms, plus a generous seating area. A video of Laura’s life greets visitors on their way into the museum. And the museum itself—it’s breathtaking. The new temperature-controlled space is divided chronologically by book, with the displays surrounding each book germane to the book’s content. The artifacts in the exhibit are all authentic, bringing Laura and her family to life. Pa’s fiddle. Mary’s gloves. A bed jacket worn by Mary when she was living with Carrie Ingalls Swanzey later in life. Mary’s beadwork. Laura’s beautiful handmade lawn dress from her thirties. The family’s bread plate as referenced in The First Four Years. Mary’s diploma from the school of the blind. Laura’s lap desk as described in On the Way Home.

After the ribbon-cutting in front of the museum, the crowd migrated to the farmhouse where, accompanied by the springtime Missouri breeze, they took seats under a tent and Laura biographers William Anderson and Pamela Smith Hill addressed the crowd with prepared remarks.

Pamela Smith Hill listens to Bill Anderson at Rocky Ridge Farm in Mansfield, Missouri on the day of the dedication of the new museum for the Laura Ingalls Wilder Home and Museum, April 22, 2016 (Sandra Hume photo)

Bill Anderson shared with the crowd the history of the Rocky Ridge and how much love and pride Laura had for the Ozark land and the farmhouse she and Almanzo designed and built together from materials off their own land. He spoke of the emergence of the museum, even before Laura’s passing, and how she herself was its first tour guide, showing the house off to visitors who had read her books. When appproached about preserving it, he said, Laura was “quietly pleased.” In May of 1957, just after her death, the first open house at Rocky Ridge served 500 people. From there the organization dedicated to preserving the house, led by Irene Lichty, became a nonprofit with help from then-president Dwight Eisenhower.

Anderson then talked about the building dated from the 1960s that served as, in total, the museum curator’s house, the bookstore, and office space as well as the 1971 building that housed the museum until this year. Both buildings will be razed to make the property look more like how it was when the Wilders lived here.

Pamela Smith Hill, editor and annotator of 2014’s unexpected runaway bestseller Pioneer Girl, stepped to the microphone next. (A Missouri native, Pamela was supported in the audience by members of her family.) She talked of Laura’s writing, how it had “power, grace, and emotional depth,” and how she was an “instinctive storyteller who understood the power of language and how it could pull readers directly into a scene.” Among other passages, she shared one from Pioneer Girl that had been pulled directly from Laura’s unedited rough draft, written in pencil, which readers might have recognized from By the Shores of Silver Lake. “She understood how language itself could create a character, a scene, or bring a setting to life.”

In an emotional moment, Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Home and Museum board member Dr. John Moore (a recent board member who joined during the recent capital campaign) stood to announce that the museum was going to be dedicated to the tireless Jean Coday.

Bill Anderson took the stage once again to thank the audience, concluding, “This is one of the monumental days of the Wilder Home Association.”

It was truly a magical day.

Edited to add that Bill Anderson contacted us for clarifications:

L.D. Lichty was the mover and shaker and first president of the group determined to preserve the Wilder Home.  He and his wife Irene were co-curators when the house was opened regularly,sharing the duties. When L.D.died in 1974, Irene continued, with help from family members.  The curators’ home was built by Rose.  It was a residence for the Lichtys.  In more recent years it was the bookstore and office space.

Posted in Little House in the News, Mansfield

Laura Ingalls Wilder Events Around the Country 2016

For a long time I debated if I could possibly keep a list of Laura Ingalls Wilder events around the country up to date. I finally decided that current information is probably best posted on a month by month basis so for current information search which I post on my personal blog. I shared this list here last year  and I hope you will find it useful this year, too. Most of these events are annual, but check with the group hosting the event for exact dates for following years. I keep a page for this on my personal blog and update it as more information comes in. Find it here.

I decided that doing an annual list of the major repeating events would be worthwhile. Let me know if I’m missing any. Most of these events are annual, but check with the group hosting the event for exact dates for following years.

Check out Ep 71 of my podcast Looking Ahead to Laura Ingalls Wilder Fandom 2016

Sarah and Trundle Bed

Also, find other William T. Anderson appearances around the Midwest.

Pepin WI

Annual Meeting- February 2, 2016 7pm.
This year they will have an inaugural performance on a newly-acquired reed organ, restored by Dave Zahn.

149th Celebration of Laura’s Birthday – February 7, 2016 2pm
The celebration at the cabin will be on Sunday afternoon at 2pm, with hot drinks and birthday treats for all who brave the weather to come out. “snow date” would be Feb 21.

Laura Days – September 10-11, 2016

Independence KS

Prairie Days – Saturday, June 11, 2016

Walnut Grove MN

Fragments of a Dream Pageant

  • July 8-9, 2016
  • July 15-16, 2016
  • July 22-23, 2016

Family Festival held in Walnut Grove City Park on pageant Saturdays July 9, July 16, and July 23, 2016
11:00 am to 6:00 pm Check the Walnut Grove website for full schedule and more details as it gets closer.

Karen Grassle (Caroline Ingalls) will return to Walnut Grove on July 16 & 17, 2016 to visit with fans during our annual Wilder Pageant weekend. The schedule will include autograph sessions on Saturday, an evening speaking engagement prior to the Wilder Pageant performance on the 16th and a photo & autograph session on Sunday.

Burr Oak IA

Find out more about their events.

Spaghetti Supper and Silent Auction – February 12, 2016 5:30pm – 7:30 pm

Advent Christian Church Open House (the church by the cemetery at the top of the hill, you drive by the cemetery on the way into town but you have to go through town to reach the parking area and the church) – May 30, 2016 (Memorial Day) 9:30 am – 2:00 pm

Laura Ingalls Wilder Days June 25-26, 2016 – This will be the 40th Anniversary of the event

NEW EVENT! – Fall Fest and Used Book Sale October 10, 2016 – 10:00 am – 3:00 pm

Annual Fund Brunch – December 14, 2015 – 8:30 am

Birthday Parties can be scheduled by any group at any time.

De Smet SD

The Long Winter

  • July 8-10, 2016

  • July 15-17, 2016

  • July 22-24, 2016

Pageant Selection for 2017 – Little Town on the Prairie

The Memorial Society in De Smet has long staunchly held that when you pay a subscription for “Laura Ingalls Wilder Lore” that was all you were getting and it was completely separate from the museum is rolling the subscriptions into a new membership program. They will honor current subscriptions until they expire, but then have a new program with varying levels and member benefits. No word about how long current lifetime memberships will be handled, but it will no longer be an option to get new ones. A wish list for donations is listed in the Winter 2015 issue of the Lore with a fuller explanation of the new membership program.

behind the barns

Spring Valley MN

Find more about their events.

Wilder Fest – May 13-15, 2016

Ice Cream Social – June 20, 2016 from 5 pm – 7pm

Eliza Jane School Days – July 25-26 & 28-29 2016

Christmas Teas – Dates To Be Announced

Mansfield MO

Future Teachers Group meets at Rocky Ridge Farm: April 8, 2016

Laura Ingalls Wilder inducted into Missouri State University Public Affairs Hall of Fame : April 14, 2016

Grand Opening for New Museum: April 22, 2016

Laura’s Memories Pageant

Evening (7:30 pm) Performance Dates (rain or shine):

  • July 15-16, 22-23, 29-30, 2016
  • Sept. 2-3, 9-10, 16-17, 2016

Morning (10:30 am) Performances: Sept. 17, 2016

Wilder Festival: Sept. 17, 2016

Malone/Burke NY

Find more on events.

Celebration of Youth – Saturday, July 30, 2016 10 am-4 pm

  • Children’s art show will be on display, along with student essays. Award ceremony.
  • Kids art activities, 19th century games, vendors, food available.
  • Morgan horses from Wm. H. Miner Institute

Cultural Festival-Irish Fenian Festival – Saturday, August 27, 2016, 10 am-4 pm

  • Celebrating the Irish heritage of the area in the mid-19th century with food, music, demonstrations, and more, Fenian Raid reenactments. More details to follow.

Annual Harvest Festival and Civil War Living History Encampment – September 24-25, 2016 10 am-4 pm

  • All Wilder buildings will be open for self-guided tours.
  • Civil War living history encampment and skirmishes
  • Pumpkin painting and children’s 19th century games in the apple orchard, children’s corn pit in the barn, Farmer Boy readings.
  • 7th Annual “As Time Passes” adult juried art show on display in the museum. Vote for People’s Choice.
  • Food and beverages available. Freshly made donuts!

Celebrate Christmas With Almanzo – Saturday, December 3, 2016 11 am -3 pm Free admission.

  •  Come and enjoy readings from the Farmer Boy Christmas chapter in the parlor of the house. (Adults must accompany and remain with child.) Enjoy cookies, mulled cider, Christmas carols, and children’s activities. Come visit our gift store for last minute shopping with complimentary gift wrapping for purchased items.

Vinton IA

Mary Ingalls Society Pageant – August 5, 6, and 7 2016. The 7th will be a Sunday Maintee.

Keystone SD – Longtime Home of Carrie Ingalls Swanzey

Keystone Area Historical Association always hosts an event on August 3rd, Carrie’s actual birthday no matter what day of the week it falls on.

Old World Wisconsin – Eagle WI

World of Little HouseJuly 16 – August 7, 2016 10:00 am – 5:00 pm

Old World Wisconsin

Heritage Hill – Green Bay WI

July 16 & 17, 2016 – Watch their website for more details. Heritage Hill has long held an annual Laura Ingalls Wilder event and confirmed it will return this year.

Genesee Country Village and Museum – Mumford, NY

Laura Ingalls Wilder Days  August 6-7, 2016 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM.

Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum – West Branch, Iowa

Laura Ingalls Wilder expert and editor of The Selected Letters of Laura Ingalls Wilder, William T. Anderson will speak at their Laura Ingalls Wilder Remembered event on will speak at 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. The event is held every Labor Day which falls this year on Monday, September 5, 2016. Last year they charged for the first time. I haven’t yet heard whether they will sell tickets or not in the coming year, but if you plan to call ahead by at least a week to see what they’re doing (I’m not sure when plans will be finalized so don’t call much before that).

Anaheim White House – Anaheim, California

Dinner with 7 Little House on the Prairie TV Show stars – March 19, 2016  4 pm – 10 pm
Tickets range between $350 and $750 and discounted hotel rooms are available. Purchase tickets in advance they go on sale January 19th. Stars scheduled are: Join Alison Arngrim, Allison Balson, Dan McBride, Radames Pera, Charlotte Stewart, Rachel Greenbush & Dean Butler. There will be 15 high grade tickets that will include a tour of the exterior sets site in Simi Valley, California with Alison Arngrim.


A brand NEW book by William T. Anderson will be released on March 8, 2016. The very anticipated book is The Selected Letters of Laura Ingalls Wilder. Anderson thinks this will be the last newly published material we’ll see from Wilder.

Available new paperback editions of 2 scholarly books announced by Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Society in De Smet, SD.

  • Little House Long Shadow: Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Impact on American Culture by Anita Clair Fellman (which includes a Sarah Uthoff reference).
  • Laura Ingalls Wilder and Rose Wilder Lane: Authorship, Place, Time, and Culture by John E. Miller

Sarah S. Uthoff is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales striving to bring the History, Mystery, Magic and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, and find her on  FacebookTwitterGoogle+, LinkedIn, and Academia.edu. Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.

Posted in Burr Oak, Crowley, De Smet -- Ingalls Homestead, De Smet -- LIWMS, Homesites, Museums and Attractions, Independence, Little House Travel, Malone, Mansfield, Pepin, Spring Valley, Vinton, Walnut Grove, Westville, FL Tagged with:

Annual Christmas Shopping Guide 2015

We’re running a little late this year, but there’s still time to get that perfect gift for your Laura fan under the tree before Christmas. Whether you are looking for the perfect present for the Laura Ingalls Wilder fan in your life or just what you want to know what to put on your Christmas want list, check out these suggestions.

Mary Ingalls Ball

Mary Ingalls Glass Ornament

This is the fifth year I’ve put together a shopping guide. Check the first post for basic gift ideas. So read that first and instead in this post look for new items, other ideas and then a list of which Laura homesites are offering Christmas mail order and the cut off dates for shipping by Christmas this year. Trundlebed Tales encourages you to do at least a little Christmas shopping from the Laura homesites because they are all local museums, highly dependent on admissions and gift shop revenue to stay open and preserve the homesites for Laura fans, so do your part.

I do have to apologize because prepping for a big trip I didn’t take as much time as I like reaching out to all the sites and making sure I have their last ship dates. If I didn’t get a shipping date, call them and ask. 🙂

Most of the presents that I suggested in 2011 , 2012 , 2013 and 2014 are still available so take a look at past year’s posts for more ideas.

And don’t forget you can also get your Laura fan gift memberships to the museums or a donation in your Laura fan’s name!

After a banner year last year where they sold out within 2 months, the multi-site Laura Ingalls Wilder calendars returned again this year. They were determined not to run out again and they definitely made their goal. Spring Valley is having a closing out sale of theirs for $5 a piece which is the cheapest I’ve found, but most homesites have them available. It makes a great stocking stuffer. I bought 3.

Spring Valley may be a small site, but they tend to look for different and local buys so giftshop always has interesting things you won’t find other place. This is the spot where I got my favorite Almanzo doll that you may have seen in my other posts. Has your Laura fan started your collection of site specific glass ball ornaments? It’s a set, but you can only get that site’s ball at that individual site. You need Spring Valley’s to complete your Laura fan’s collection.

The Mary Ingalls Society at the Iowa School for the Blind and Sight Saving School has joined the ranks of mail order this year. They are selling a lovely glass ball ornament and calendars. These calendars are not the multisite ones available elsewhere, these are twelve months of lovely photos of the ISBSSS.

With one of the largest gift shops, Walnut Grove continues to work with authors and publishers to offer signed copies for Little House fans who can’t get to a book signing. Their big seller right now is autographed copies of Melissa Gilbert’s My Prairie Cookbook: Memories and Frontier Food from My Little House to Yours. Ask them about other titles. They also focus on local handcrafted items. Don’t forget their doll clothes including the cutest American Girl style doll coat on the planet. 

Another large giftshop is at the Memorial Society in De Smet. Find two new books there this year De Smet Images of America is a collection of old photos of De Smet drawn from collections around the community. Many images are available only in this title. Check out an exciting, well researched publication Laura Ingalls Wilder and Education in Kingsbury County by Nancy Cleveland.

Little Town Ornament

Little Town Ornament

Most exciting is the exclusive set of porcelain ornaments De Smet has been released one a year. This year the ornament is based on Little Town on the Prairie. Previous releases of By the Shores of Silver Lake and The Long Winter are still available. Read more about them.

Little House on the Prairie Museum Jam

Little House on the Prairie Museum Jam

Independence is taking a bit of different tack this year and is keeping their gift shop open through a sister shop which is staffed all winter. The Red Buffalo is 11 – 5 open Monday thru Saturday for month of December,
Phone: 620.725.4022 E-Mail: redbuffalo@att.net. Check out their Little House on the Prairie Museum label jams and fruit butters for a homemade touch. They also have a lovely site specific ornament.

Check out new fabric licensed by Little House on the Prairie of Family Friendly Films for crafts and sewing projects.

Walnut Grove MN

Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum

Phone 1-800-528-7280

Last Day for Priority Mail – December 18, 2015

They’ve had trouble updating their website lately. If you don’t see something on their website, call and check.

De Smet SD

Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Society, Click on  The Gift Shop

Phone 1-800-880-3383

Last Day for Priority Mail – December 15, 2015

Ingalls Homestead

Phone: 1-800-776-3594

Loftus Store

Phone: 605-854-3773 (Ignore the toll free number on the site, it’s no long valid)

Mansfield MO

Laura Ingalls Wilder Home and Museum

Phone 1-877-924-7126 (Toll free)

Malone NY

Almanzo and Laura Ingalls Wilder Farm


Malone said for their set up, online ordering has a quicker response during the off season.  If you’d rather order by phone or have a question e-mail them and they’ll either e-mail a response or call you, so please include your phone number. They didn’t respond with a date this year, so it’s up to you.

Spring Valley MN

Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum (Store not online, but they are one of the glass ball ornament sites)


Recommends using e-mail to order for Christmas, but you may want to include your phone number in the e-mail so they can get back to you with questions quickly.

Last Day for Priority – December 10, 2015

Burr Oak IA

Laura Ingalls Wilder Park and Museum

Phone (563) 735-5916

The best way for people to shop during the winter is through the website gift shop and then pay through Paypal. They can email the museum with questions. They are no longer accepting checks for orders because of some bad check incidents.

Pepin WI

Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum

Off season ordering is only online, through e-mail. Contact them through their contact form.
Last Day for Priority – Not giving a last day, it’s up to the customer.

Sarah S. Uthoff is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales striving to bring the History, Mystery, Magic and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, and find her on FacebookTwitterGoogle+, LinkedIn, and Academia.edu. Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.

Posted in Holidays, Homesites, Museums and Attractions Tagged with: , ,

Laura Ingalls Wilder Season Ends 2015

Linda In Pepin October usually is about the end of the main Laura Ingalls Wilder season for the year. If you plan a Laura trip during or after October, make sure you call ahead. They may or may not be able to accommodate you by opening the museum, etc. or giving lists of what there is to see. On the plus side you get autumn foliage and then snow photos. I called around to find out when the Laura museums were officially closing for the year. Find contact information for the homesites/museums here.

I originally published this on my Trundlebed Tales blog. Check for updates there.

Laura Ingalls Wilder Season Ends 2015

Pepin, WI – After  October 18, 2015 the museum will no longer be open daily, but will re-open for the weekends in October and early November 10 AM – 5 PM.  Then they will be closed until May 2016. They should re-open for the town of Pepin celebration on the Saturday only, Hometown Holidays, December 5, 2015 (all-day).

Independence, KS – Closed October 31, 2015,  Normal fall hours are Tues.-Sat. 10 am – 5 pm, Sun. 1 pm – 5 pm and closed Mon.

Walnut Grove, MN – Museum grounds closed for the season November 1, 2015, but their Gift Shop/Visitor Center will remain open during November and December from 10 am – 4 pm, Monday – Saturday. They will be closed December 24-25, 2015 and January 1, 2016. After New Years Day it will be open Monday –  Friday, same hours, until April 1, 2016.

Burr Oak, IA – Closed October 17, 2015. Beginning in September they have reduced hours. After Labor Day the hours & days this year were Thurs, Fri, & Sat., 10-4. They weren’t open on Sunday after Labor Day this year.

De Smet, SD –
Memorial Society – open all year with slightly reduced hours during winter, Mon.- Fri. 9 am – 4pm with tours going out at 10 am and 2 pm. They will close December 24-January 3rd for Christmas and New Years.

Ingalls Homestead – Open depending on the weather through October and then closed October 31, 2015, Office remains open for making reservations, etc. Call and leave a message if they don’t pick up. Scheduled activities only take place through September 30th. People are welcome to walk around even after they are closed for the year. Look for maps in plastic holders beside visitor center/gift shop doors.

Mansfield, MO – Season ends November 15, 2015. The museum is closed, but the gift shop is open. They have a one-day Christmas open house. In recent years it has been on the Friday of the first weekend in December so plan ahead for next year. This year it is Friday, December 4th from 5-8 pm. It is free. You can take photos of yourself in front of the fireplace in the historic home with Santa. Pa’s fiddle will be played. Sample Laura’s recipes and enjoy a cup of Hot Cider or Coffee. Christmas Shop in the Gift Shoppe/Bookstore.

Malone, NY – Closed Sept. 30, 2015, Can arrange tours by appointment if volunteers available . Minimum admission is $25 for three or less. Four or more admitted at regular price. Arrange by e-mailing farm@almanzowilderfarm.com Re-opens for Christmas With Almanzo event (1 Day) December 6th, 11:00 am – 3:00 pm. For this event admissions free. Come and enjoy readings from Farmer Boy Christmas chapter in the parlor of the house at 11:30 and 1:00. (Adults must accompany and remain with child.) Enjoy cookies, mulled cider, Christmas carols, and children’s activities. Come visit our gift store for last minute shopping with complimentary gift wrapping for purchased items. “Happy Christmas!”

Spring Valley, MN – Only open on weekends for the rest of the month of October. Closed October 31, 2015. They reopen for Christmas teas. Teas will be Thursday the 3rd – Sunday the 6th with sittings at 12:30 pm each day. As of right now they only have Sunday spots available, but it’s an annual event and if you’re are interested check with them in early fall next year. It is a full lunch set in a Victorian home that was built in 1888. Reservations required for the teas. The cost for the tea is $10. They will also be having house tours that same week-end from 1pm-4pm each day.  The cost for the tours is $7 and includes three area homes. For more info call 507-346-7659.

Keystone, SD – Closed September 15, 2015.

Vinton, IA – Pat Barr passed along this information: “Our hours are the same year round – 8:00 a.m.-4:30 p.m. – Monday through Friday.  All but the museum is available.  The roof is  now done and work can be started/finished on the inside of the building – I believe that all the ceiling tiles have been replaced – but, there still needs to be painting, floor coverings, and possibly dry wall.  Once third floor has been completed, the Society will start working on the museum.  There is still plenty to see without the museum.  For large groups, members of the Society can display historical artifacts in the auditorium.  The makeshift tunnels, the fence, etc. are down.  People can now come in the front door of Old  Main once again.  A group larger than five should contact me – all others are welcome to drop in.  My phone number is:  319-472-5221, Extension 1110.  My e-mail is:  pbarr@iowa-braille.k12.ia.us

Sarah S. Uthoff is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales striving to bring the History, Mystery, Magic and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, and find her on FacebookTwitterGoogle+, LinkedIn, and Academia.edu. Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.

Posted in Burr Oak, De Smet -- Ingalls Homestead, De Smet -- LIWMS, Homesites, Museums and Attractions, Independence, Little House Travel, Malone, Mansfield, Pepin, Spring Valley, Vinton, Walnut Grove Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Smile! Laura is on Amazon

Amazon Smile

Amazon has created a program where if you go in through Amazon smile instead of straight a small percentage of every purchase (taken off Amazon’s share – the price you pay won’t increase) and donate it to your chosen destination. Learn more about it on their FAQs. I’ve thought this was a great idea.

Franklin Historical Society (Franklin County, where Almanzo’s childhood home near Malone, NY is located) publicized that they’ve joined the program and it led me to search for other Laura organizations and quite a few have joined. If you shop on Amazon, please consider going in through Amazon Smiles. Find it online at: http://smile.amazon.com To support Franklin County, search for FCHMS by searching for EIN: 14-1499839 or by keyword.



Laura Ingalls Wilder Amazon Smile Organizations

If you search the Amazon Smiles site under the exact names listed before the dashes, you can now give a percentage to:

  • Laura Ingalls Wilder Home Association – Mansfield MO
  • Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Society Incorporated – De Smet SD
  • Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum & Tourist Center – Walnut Grove MN
  • Laura Ingalls Wilder Pageant Society – De Smet SD
  • Almanzo and Laura Ingalls Wilder Association – Malone NY
  • Laura Ingalls Wilder Park & Museum Inc – Burr Oak IA

You can also switch your organization as often as you want so join up with Amazon Smile today.

Sarah S. Uthoff is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales fighting to bring the History, Mystery, Magic and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation.Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, and find her on FacebookTwitterGoogle+,LinkedIn, and Academia.edu. She is immediate past President of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Legacy and Research Association. Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.

Posted in Announcements, Burr Oak, De Smet -- General, De Smet -- LIWMS, Malone, Mansfield, Walnut Grove Tagged with: , , , , , , ,