Each of the places Laura Ingalls Wilder has lived has been commemorated in some way. Collectively, they are known as her homesites. Here is your guide to the LIW homesites.
Pepin, Wisconsin, was the birthplace of Laura Ingalls Wilder and the site of Little House in the Big Woods, just seven miles north of the village of Pepin. A re-creation of the Ingalls’ home sits on the land owned by Charles and Caroline Ingalls. The Laura Ingalls Wilder museum in the town of Pepin features exhibits about Laura and her family as well as local history. Like Laura, visitors still enjoy collecting pebbles from beautiful Lake Pepin. The special event known as Laura Days is held each year in September. Like them on Facebook. The museum is open from May through October.
Independence, Kansas, is mentioned in Little House on the Prairie as being the nearest town to the Ingalls’ cabin in Indian Territory. The historical site is located 13 miles southwest of Independence. A replica cabin has been built on what is believed to be the land where the Ingalls family settled. Nearby are the remains of a handmade stone well, thought to be the one dug by Pa and Mr. Scott. The special event Prairie Days is held annually in June. The museum is open April through October.
Walnut Grove, Minnesota is the setting for the book On the Banks of Plum Creek. Walnut Grove was also the setting for the “Little House on the Prairie” television series. The museum collection includes exhibits on Laura’s life as well as an 1898 depot, a chapel, an onion-domed house, dugout display, little red schoolhouse, early settler home, and covered wagon display, as well as memorabilia from the TV series. While in Walnut Grove you can drive a couple of miles out of town to visit the site of the Ingalls’ land to see where the dugout was – the first “house” the Ingalls lived in when moving to Walnut Grove. Visitors can wade and splash in Plum Creek just like Laura and Mary. The special event Wilder Pageant is held weekends in July. Like them on Facebook. The museum is open April through October; the gift shop is open all year.
Burr Oak, Iowa was home to the Ingalls in 1876 when they moved from Walnut Grove so that Pa and Ma could help run the Masters Hotel. Laura did not write about Burr Oak in her books but she did describe her experiences there in her memoir, Pioneer Girl. Baby Grace was born while the Ingalls lived in Burr Oak. Today visitors can tour the Masters Hotel, notable as being the only one of Laura’s childhood homes still on its original site. The special event Laura Days is held in June. The museum is open from May through mid-October.
De Smet, South Dakota was the setting for By the Shores of Silver Lake, The Long Winter, Little Town on the Prairie, These Happy Golden Years, and The First Four Years as well as the real-life romance between Laura and Almanzo Wilder. For travel information contact the De Smet Visitor Information. Visitors to the Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Society can tour the Surveyors’ House—the first house the Ingalls family lived when they came to Dakota Territory in 1879—as well as the house Pa built for the family in town in 1887. Also at the museum site is a replica of the Brewster (Bouchie) School where Laura taught, as well as the original schoolhouse in De Smet, attended by Laura and Carrie, which has recently been restored. The Discovery Center contains fun, pioneer-themed hands-on activities for children. The special event the Laura Ingalls Wilder Pageant is held weekends in July. Like them on Facebook.The museum is open year round.
Also in De Smet is the privately-owned Ingalls Homestead on the site of the very quarter-section Pa Ingalls farmed in the 1880s. The land has been turned into a wonderful hands-on experience where families can try their hand at many activities described in the Little House books, such as twisting hay or riding in a covered wagon across the prairie. The Ingalls house, known as “Ma’s Little House,” and a hay-roof barn have been reconstructed on their original locations.
Mansfield, Missouri, was the home of Almanzo and Laura Ingalls Wilder for more than sixty years and the childhood home of Rose Wilder Lane. Laura, Almanzo, and Rose moved from De Smet, South Dakota to Mansfield, Missouri in 1894, a move that is chronicled in On The Way Home. Today, the house stands as Laura left it 1957. A museum next to the home contains many of Laura’s personal belongings and a number of items mentioned in her books, such as Pa’s fiddle, Ma’s sewing machine, Mary’s nine-patch quilt, autograph albums, name cards, and much more. One section of the museum is devoted to Rose Wilder Lane and her literary career. Visitors may also tour the fully-restored Rock House, built by Rose Wilder Lane for her parents in 1928, where Laura and Almanzo lived until 1936 and where the first four Little House books were written. The special event Wilder Days is held in September. Like them on Facebook.The museum is open March through mid-November. Also enjoy Laura’s Memories, the Mansfield Pageant, which is held during July, August, and September each year. Check the website for exact dates.
Malone, New York was the setting for Farmer Boy, which tells the story of Almanzo Wilder’s childhood on a farm in upstate New York. The museum consists of the original farmhouse, where the Wilder family lived from 1840-1875—the only building mentioned in the Little House books still in existence on its original foundation—and reconstructed barns and outbuildings among acres of farmland and woods and the nearby Trout River. The museum is open from the end of May through September.
Spring Valley, Minnesota was the home of Almanzo Wilder’s parents, James and Angeline Wilder, characters in Laura’s book Farmer Boy. The Wilder family moved there in 1875. Almanzo lived in Spring Valley for a few years before moving on to Dakota Territory, where he met Laura. Almanzo, Laura, and little Rose lived here with Almanzo’s parents in 1890-1891, and attended the Methodist Church that now houses a museum with a special Wilder Family exhibit. The museum is open daily from June–August and weekends in September and October.
Spring Valley Community Historical Society
221 W. Courtland Street
Spring Valley, Minnesota 55975
Last Updated: October 2, 2014