When I post my video diaries I always get comments about my Laura clothes. No, not my period dresses, but my Laura Ingalls Wilder t-shirts that I wear for travel and Laura trips. I thought everyone might enjoy a closer look at them. So enjoy our new monthly series where we look at a Laura shirt each month.
Shirt of the Month
Here is this month’s t-shirt:
Spring Valley, Minnesota is located conveniently near Burr Oak, Iowa and is one of the smaller Laura Ingalls Wilder homesites. The James Wilder family had moved here from New York when Almanzo was a teenager and they had a well established horse farm. Laura, Almanzo, and Rose stayed with Mother and Father Wilder after they sold out in De Smet and before they ventured on to Florida.
The Methodist Church in town was finished during their time there and they would have attended. Today it houses the Spring Valley Methodist Church Museum. Most of the set up is a typical county style museum with things like a collection of materials from churches in the area that have closed down and buckets without a flat bottom (to discourage people borrowing them for their own use and forgetting to bring them back). There is a upper class house museum and additional outbuildings with agriculture equipment and a one-room school. They are especially proud of their stain glass windows.
Want to learn more about the Spring Valley connection? Look for the book and/or listen to my podcast about it.
What’s Wilder to See
The museum has done a great job of research and has made to most of what they have tracking down every scrap they could find about Almanzo, Laura, and his family’s time in Spring Valley. Find the display they’ve created out of this on the second floor. (They have a wonderful research archive that is not on display.)
The Wilder house was torn down before Wilder’s fame was established, but you can still see the horse barn believed to be used by the Wilder family from the road. (Be aware the owner is beyond sick of Wilder fans and doesn’t want them on his property.)
Finally, the Spring Valley Cemetery is the resting place of several Wilder Relatives, most importantly Almanzo’s brother, Royal Wilder and his two infant daughters.
One of the surprising things about Spring Valley is their gift shop. As a small museum it certainly doesn’t have the breadth of say Walnut Grove, De Smet, or Mansfield, but they go out of their way to have unique and interesting things. This is the only place you’ll find one of my favorite Laura dolls, a boy Almanzo cloth doll.
This t-shirt is another example of something unique, both Spring Valley and Burr Oak are known for having bright colored t-shirts where many of the other Laura related giftshops have more sedate colors. Walnut Grove has been making a stab in this direction also with their short term specialty shirts for events which have been orange and a very bright robin egg’s blue.
So if you’re looking for a shirt that shows off just how bright and sunny you feel to be visiting a Laura homesite, check out the shirts in Spring Valley. Note they do NOT have an online store, but do take phone and e-mail orders. (507) 346-7659 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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 Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, and Academia.edu. Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.