News on the Masters Hotel in Walnut Grove

Original Masters Hotel in Walnut Grove during June 2017
Original Masters Hotel in Walnut Grove during June 2017

A couple of years ago the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum in Walnut Grove, Minnesota purchased the former Masters Hotel right across the street. This was the original masters Hotel that Laura talks about in Pioneer Girl before they move to Burr Oak, Iowa.

Looking in Through the Windows of the Walnut Grove Masters Hotel
Looking in Through the Windows of the Walnut Grove Masters Hotel in June 2017

It was purchased with the idea of restoring it, but once money was raised and the process begun it was determined the building was too far gone. They tore it down and decided to focus attention on the Master Store/Meeting Hall Building next door which it is believed Pa helped build.

Read more in this article by Kathleen Miller Brandt

http://www.ncppub.com/pages/?p=8470#more-8470http://www.ncppub.com/pages/?p=8470#more-8470

New Article

Brandt also shared with me another article and gave me permission to share it here:

Eleck Nelson Early settler of Walnut Grove

By Kathy Brandt

Some people spend their lives chasing fame, while others never have a clue that they will someday have a claim to fame. That was certainly true for Eleck Nelson, an early settler in the Walnut Grove area. Eleck Nelson was born on September 29, 1846 in Gran Kommune (Parish), Oppland fylke, Norway. This coming Saturday would have been his 172 birthday. He died on July 15, 1931, and he was the oldest resident as far as the number of years living in Walnut Grove. Eleck came to Redwood County in the 1870s, and according to information found on Ancestry.com,did not file for the patent on his homestead until 1881, because his intent to become a citizen was not filed until then.

In 1871, he married Olena. The family settled in North Hero Township, where at least several of their children were born. Their seven children were: Annie (the Anna Laura Ingalls Wilder mentioned) who was born in 1872 and died in 1890, Mary, Fred, Albert, Samuel, Julia and Hjelmer. Little did he know in 1874, when he stepped in to help new neighbors, Charles and Caroline Ingalls, that he, Olena and Annie would go down in history and would forever be famous in a book and a television series.

Eleck Nelson seems to have been a colorful character. According to family notes on Ancestry,com, he sold the farm in 1892 and purchased 80 acres just north of the Walnut Grove town site. He held many positions in the next several years. He owned a butcher shop, and, it is believed, employed his friend Charles Ingalls, who had returned to Walnut Grove following their time in Burr Oak, Iowa. He also opened a saloon, worked as a stock buyer and dealer, was a supervisor for North Hero Township, was a rural mail carrier, served on the Walnut Grove village board for ten years and served as the mayor for four years.

A big story is told that one night Eleck got extremely drunk. The city constable was going to shut down Nelson’s saloon and take Eleck to jail. But someone had warned Olena, so she came into town with the horse and wagon, got Eleck into the back of the wagon because he was too drunk to sit on the seat up front, and she took him home before the constable could get to the saloon. Olena died in 1921, and was buried close to daughter Annie on the eastern edge of the North Hero Township Cemetery. Sometime after Olena died, Eleck began to keep company with a “woman of ill repute” from Tracy. Things got so bad, that the village actually passed laws that mainly pertained to her and her presence in town. Finally, the sheriff was able to “run her out of town on a rail” and she apparently never came back.

Eleck Nelson died in 1931 and was buried beside his wife and daughter in the North Hero Township cemetery. Six years after his death, he was made famous when his old neighbor’s daughter, Laura Ingalls Wilder, immortalized some of his family in her book about their years in the Walnut Grove Area, On the Banks of Plum Creek. Eleck didn’t seek fame, and certainly didn’t expect to be made famous. His tombstone tells the story of a simple man, an immigrant, a pioneer, a farmer, a husband and a father. A simple man to the end.

Sarah S. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many times at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. She 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. How can you help? Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, look at her photos, and find her on Facebook , Twitter , Google+LinkedIn , SlideShare, and Academia.edu . Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and former director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.

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In the Kitchen Pepper Rings

Close Up of hand slicing peppers
Slicing Peppers

A Cornucopia

During their years in Pepin, Wisconsin the Ingalls family had more and a bigger variety of food then they would until they became established in De Smet, South Dakota. Being settled they were able to have a larger variety of livestock and a garden. Living in the border area between woods, prairie, and lake, there was a much larger group of things they knew about to harvest from the wild. Many of which are described in Little House in the Big Woods including honey, molasses, fish, bear, deer, and forage for their pigs, etc.

Hand pointing to tab
These tabs go in holes to hold the window up.

The variety of food stuffs followed various methods of preservation. Laura describes the attic of the little house full of food preserved for the winter. One of the things she describes are dried peppers. There are different ways to dry them, but here is a beautiful thing you can dry like Laura.

Woman in Apron Threading Pepper
Sarah threading pepper slices on the string to hang between windows.

A Pepper String

In old houses windows often had a peg on each side in the frame of the window. These pegs were used to press in to keep the window raised. Another use was an excellent way to dry pepper rings. Not only is this method useful, multicolored pepper rings drying in your window are lovely and give the sense that you are actively using your kitchen. Let’s walk through how you do this in both an old-fashioned kitchen and in your kitchen.

What You Need:

Washed Peppers, you’ll need several if you want the string to appear full

Cutting Board

Sharp Knife

String

Suction Cups (if you don’t have old windows)

What You Need To Do

Step 1: Grow or buy bell peppers of various colors. – It doesn’t matter to the rings whether you buy them at a store or farmer’s market or grow them yourself.

Step 2: Wash and dry the papers and lay them on their side on a cutting board. With a sharp knife cut the peppers into rings, leaving the circle of the rings intact. The width of the pepper rings can vary, but the thinner you make them the easier it is to accidentally cut a ring in two. Somewhere between a quarter and a half inch wide.

Step 3: Tie one end of the string to a peg.

Step 4: String the rings along the string. Leave space between the rings according to how you think look best.

Step 5: Tie the other end of the string around the opposite peg pulling the string tight.

Pepper Rings in Window
Pepper Rings in Window

If You Have New Windows

If your window doesn’t have pegs, use two suction cups instead. Stick the suction cups on opposite sides of the window, one on the far right side and one on the far left side of the window. Follow the rest of the directions as is except substitute tying to the suction cups for the pegs.

Close Up Dried Peppers on a String
Suction Cups for Pepper Ring String

How Do You Use Them?

Dried Peppers will last for a long time. If you get them completely dry they can last almost forever. It can be used in various recipes, normally they have to be rehydrated first. A benefit of using them is often recipes may call for a smaller amount than a whole pepper and this allows you to easily use part of the pepper without wasting or scrambling to use the rest.

Sarah S. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many times at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. She 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. How can you help? Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, look at her photos, and find her on Facebook , Twitter , Google+LinkedIn , SlideShare, and Academia.edu . Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and former director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.

Lucy and Arnold

Chester Whites courtesy of Old World Wisconsin
Chester Whites courtesy of Old World Wisconsin

Green Acres

It really is the place to be. If you’ve never seen Green Acres, it was part of the rural comedy fad. The shows that are made fun of. That was especially true in the era of cerebral 1970s sitcoms, but even today I was reading a recent blog post which references the head of CBS in the 1960s and took a minute to unnecessarily shower these rural sitcoms with disdain. To that I say two things. First, people are still watching shows like The Beverly Hillbillies (which Green Acres spun off of) and The Andy Griffith Show. How many people are still watching – not just talking about but actually watching multiple episodes of – All in the Family? Second, have you actually watched them paying close attention? If you do you’ll find they are often very multilayered beneath the farce. For example, Jethro on The Beverly Hillbillies subtlety mocks the country’s obsession with advanced degrees by having the family always turn to Jethro for advice because he’s the one with the formal education even though Jed and Granny have much more sense (those people in the PhD glut today would have done better if they’d watched the Hillbillies).

The most nuanced of them all was Green Acres which was the most meta scripted show on television until It’s Gary Shandling’s Show (watch that one too if you haven’t it’s also all kinds of awesome – check out the theme song). On Green Acres (which also had a perfect theme song) Lisa was on the surface portrayed as an incompetent woman, but she actually was the only one in town who actually understood what was going on. She could see the credits and hear the patriotic background music that played whenever her husband gave a speech. Lisa Douglas was wonderful; smart and funny and all sorts of good things. However, you had to actually pay attention to get that.

Arnold Ziffel

So my high opinion of Green Acres lead me to read this Me-TV article about 10 Things You Never Knew.

https://www.metv.com/lists/10-things-you-never-knew-about-arnold-the-pig-the-true-star-of-green-acres

One fact about Arnold Ziffel snapped me to attention. (No, not the fact that he wasn’t really eaten – I already knew that was a joke that turned urban legend.) The part that jumped out was Number 8 – Arnold was a Chester White.

Lucy Wilder

In Farmer Boy, when Almanzo asks Father Wilder for a nickle for lemonade.  Father Wilder explains the labor theory of value of money and instead gives Almanzo a fifty cent piece. He also gives the advice that instead of spending the money for lemonade that he should use it to buy a suckling pig as an investment. (Where the concept of return for investment fits into the labor theory of value I’m not sure. Plus, buy the kid a lemonade for heavens sake.)

Almanzo names his pet/investment Lucy. Later during the county fair they mention Lucy as they’re looking at the exhibits. (Walking through the animal buildings at any fair is always fun, but please remember they are live animals and not yours. Be sure to treat them with respect and give them a lot of room. Never assume they won’t move.)

Color illustration paperback edition of Farmer Boy, pg. 260.

They they looked at the big Chester White hogs, and the smoother, smaller, black Berkshire hogs. Almanzo’s pig Lucy was a Chester White. But he decided that some day he would have a Berkshire, too. 

So both Arnold and Lucy were Chester Whites.

Chester White

Chester White is a historic breed. It originally developed in Pennsylvania from a mix of British breeds around 1818. It was a very popular breed during the 19th century and was one of the breeds that was part of the purebred breed registry associations of the last part of the 19th century.

The Chester White is still a major breed in raising pigs today and is one of several breeds with the pale pinky color that most people think of when they think of pigs. They are also common at living history farm sites.

P.S. This doesn’t have much to do with the rest of the post, but just as an interesting aside the Chester White was one of 3 breeds crossbred to create the Hereford Hog breed. It’s named after the Hereford cattle breed which has a very similar color and pattern. And Herefords as EVERYONE knows are the best cattle by FAR.

Sarah S. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many times at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. She 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. How can you help? Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, look at her photos, and find her on Facebook , Twitter , Google+LinkedIn , SlideShare, and Academia.edu . Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and former director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.

Harvey Dunn Exhibits 2018 2019

Harvey Dunn was not only Grace Ingalls Dow’s nephew, but a famous painter (check it out he has his own stamp). He was not only a famous illustrator and art teacher to future famous illustrators and one of a very select group of artists chosen to officially document World War I, but also a master of prairie scenes.

Harvey Dunn Art Museum
Harvey Dunn Art Museum

South Dakota State Art Museum

It was due to Dunn’s donation of his prairie masterpieces that the South Dakota Art Museum was created. If your time allows at all I strongly recommend a visit. The museum holds so many of Dunn’s work that they only have a selection on display at any time and often borrow other works to help fill out a story.

Previously I explained this in a little more detail and gave you the 2018 schedule. A new brochure I just received in the mail has me making another report.

Free Parking

Before I go on I want to just take a minute and reaffirm that they now have a free parking lot. If there was a problem with the museum before it was you had no idea where to park. Back in March they announced:

Parking just got easier with our new FREE parking lot just west of the museum on Harvey Dunn Street. It’s reserved for museum visitors. No need to go back with a permit when you check in at the front desk.

New Dunn Exhibitions

One current exhibit runs through November 4, 2018. It features artwork that Dunn made specifically to illustrate magazine articles. Here is the Exhibit Guide.

A second exhibit opened August 28, 2018 and will run through February 9, 2019. In honor of the 100th anniversary of the Armistice (the official day World War I ended – 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month) they are offering an exhibit featuring work done illustration World War I. Here is the Exhibit Guide.

Plein Air Event

Just as a last thing before we leave Harvey Dunn each August the Ingalls Homestead hosts an outdoor painting event in Dunn’s honor. Another great event to visit if you get a chance.

Sarah S. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many times at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. She 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. How can you help? Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, look at her photos, and find her on Facebook , Twitter , Google+LinkedIn , SlideShare, and Academia.edu . Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and former director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.

Iowa Genealogical Society to Hold Fall Conference

My great-grandparents and me

Posting this as a service to the Iowa Genealogical Society, but if you’re interested in Genealogy and Trundlebed Tales. Here’s where to start. I haven’t gone, but I hear it’s a great event. It’s on my life goals list. – SSU

Posted on behalf of the Iowa Genealogical Society—please send questions to Kevin Spire at kdspire.genealogy@gmail.com

Iowa Genealogical Society to Hold Fall Conference

The Iowa Genealogical Society (IGS) will hold their Fall Conference on October 12-13, 2018 at the State Historical Society of Iowa Resource Center, 600 East Locust Street, Des Moines, Iowa. Registration is from 8:00 to 8:45 AM.

Lisa Louise Cooke will present six programs over the two-day event:

  • How to Organize all this Genealogy Stuff
  • Reconstruct Your Ancestor’s Life with Google
  • How Alice the Genealogist Avoids Falling Down the Rabbit Hole
  • How to Reopen and Work a Genealogy Cold Case
  • Google Earth for Genealogy
  • Inspiring Ways to Capture the Interest of the Non-genealogist in Your Family.
Cooke, is the producer and host of the Genealogy Gems Podcast, an online genealogy audio show. She is the author of The Genealogist Google Toolbox, Mobile Genealogy, How to Find Your Family History in Newspapers, and Genealogy Gems: Ultimate Research Strategies as well as the Google Earth for Genealogy video. She is a writer, instructor and podcaster for Family Tree Magazine. She has been featured as a keynote speaker and presenter at conferences and seminars such as Who Do You Think You Are?, Live in London, Roots Tech and the National Genealogical Society Conference.
In addition, Tony Jahn, State of Iowa Archivist will present an update on events and changes at the State Historical Library and Archives. Attendees can choose one from the following topics during a Breakout Session: Open House Tour of the State Historical library and Archives; Census and Squirrels by Linda Greenhurst; or International Round Tables covering English, German, Irish, Italian and Scandinavian research.
Conference fee, which includes lunch, is due by September 29, 2018. Fees will increase after that date. Non-members may purchase a one-year membership and be eligible to attend this conference at the reduced rate. The membership also provides reduced rates on other conferences and classes held at the IGS library as well as additional benefits. For more information, call 515.276.0287 or to register for the conference, go to www.iowagenealogy.org

Truman Home Study Book List

There is just something so intoxicating about seeing a collection of books in someone’s home. You just feel compelled to go over and see what books they have. That’s even more true when you visit a famous person’s house museum. Usually you aren’t allowed to sit down and gordge yourself on seeing what titles they had and what that might tell you about what they knew and what they thought. Normally they are safely kept behind velvet ropes.

Harry S. Truman Rocks!

So in addition to all the other cool things the Harry S. Truman National Historic Site does, (I always point them out as my favorite example on Facebook – always clever, always with an eye on their goal of making you want to visit) it shares out a list of Harry’s books. Not only a complete list, but a list you can get organized either by author or by title.

https://www.nps.gov/hstr/learn/historyculture/truman-home-study-book-list.htm

Just going through the As I see he must have liked Eight Cousins over Little Women (totally agree) and that he must have been an Albert Campion (Margery Allingham’s famed detective) fan. I think I would have enjoyed talking to Harry.

I don’t know why this isn’t done everywhere as a matter of course, but I’m so glad that they know how to do things in Independence!

Sarah S. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many times at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. She 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. How can you help? Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, look at her photos, and find her on Facebook , Twitter , Google+LinkedIn , SlideShare, and Academia.edu . Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and former director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.

In the Kitchen With Laura Kerosene Lamps

Beyond Candles

Although making candles is one of the major pioneer crafts that is demonstrated at museums or pioneer events today, as soon as they could people moved on to lamps that were fueled with whale oil, coal oil, and later with kerosene. People did definitely make candles, but mostly in the earlier years of American history, at lower economic levels, or in very isolated frontier areas without a settlement nearby. Lamps were easier to clean than candles, easier to keep functioning, and allowed a cleaner, sharper light. One of the many products once created by whaling was oil for lamps. The entire country ran on whale, but by the mid-19th century that was quickly shifting as the beginning of petroleum products stepped in to many of these uses – at least those that weren’t directly related to food.

Kerosene is Introduced

Robert Edwin Dietz patented the first practical kerosene lamp in 1859, independent of similar work being done in Poland. According to the Dictionary of Energy, “The Dietz Company went on to manufacture hundreds of lantern models, and became a pioneer in the automotive electric lighting industry.” Kerosene was the first useful product from crude oil and is produced by distilling it. Kerosene was where the money was. Gasoline was known during the same time, but didn’t have an immediately apparent use.

Karl and Jean Carrying Kerosene
Karl and Jean Carrying Kerosene

Laura and Kerosene Lamps

Although there is mention of candles in the “Little House” books, kerosene lamps or lanterns are definitely the rule as the series moves on in time. There is a lot of work to keeping a kerosene lamp operating properly and Laura wrote how glad she was that they could be put away in the cupboard in favor of electric lights.

While I was growing up we used to keep a lamp lit every time there was a storm and while I’m just as glad that our generator means no more blackouts, I still miss having a reason to get out the lamp and light it on a fairly regular basis.

Video

For this month’s In the Kitchen With Laura post we’re learning all about how you work and take care of a kerosene lamp.

Sources

These are resources I used for some of the invention details from our library, ask at your local library to ILL it.

“Cracking.” 50 Chemistry Ideas You Really Need to Know, Hayley Birch, Quercus, 2015. Credo Reference, http://resources.kirkwood.edu/login?url=http://search.credoreference.com/content/entry/quechemistry/cracking/0.  Accessed 03 Mar 2017.

“Dietz, Robert Edwin 1818-1897,” Dictionary of Energy, edited by Cleveland, Cutler and Christopher Morris, Elsevier Science & Technology, 2014. Credo Reference, http://resources.kirkwood.edu/login?url=http://search.credoreference.com/content/entry/este/dietz_robert_edwin_1818_1897/0. Accessed 03 Mar 2017.

Sarah S. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many times at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. She 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. How can you help? Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, look at her photos, and find her on Facebook , Twitter , Google+LinkedIn , SlideShare, and Academia.edu . Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and former director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.