Come On the Way Home With Me

 

Four copies of different versions of On the Way Home
On the Way Home Editions

Last month I was at the Country School Association of America conference in Beatrice, Nebraska. I’ve long wanted to go because its the location of the Homestead National Monument. After I got back I learned that my Grandma Uthoff was actually a school principal there back in the 1920s after she graduated college, before she married my grandfather.

Why On the Way Home

One of the reasons I was excited to go was that I knew that Laura passed through there on her way from DeSmet, South Dakota to Mansfield, Missouri. I wanted to make sure I’d reread On the Way Home before I went — which I only accomplished driving down and then stopping when she hit Beatrice. I had THOUGHT I’d be able to maybe follow the route either a little ways north or south, but that didn’t happen. Seriously there was a severe thunderstorm warning and a tornado watch EVERY SINGLE NIGHT we were there. And this didn’t mean yeah, it may or may not, it meant STORM! So I didn’t get that done, but it has inspired me.

Read Along with Me

So I’ve decided to send out a tweet or two about the book following along with where Laura is and reported each day. Please join in and tweet with me at the tag #OnTheWayHome. July 17th is their first day on the trail so look for tweets starting later today.

Note that I’ll be using the published version of the book which was edited before publication.

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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Walnut Grove Pageant UPDATE July 9 2018

Redwood County is officially declared a disaster area.

TO: Media Outlets
RE: Plum Creek is Down – WILDER PAGEANT is UP!
DA: Monday, July 9, 2018
FR: William Richards (507-828-6616)

The Wilder Pageant in Walnut Grove, Minnesota, will be ready with added performances Thursday through Saturday on July 12-13-14 and July 19-20-21. Flood damage from the July 3rd downpour forced cancellation of the past weekend’s performances.

FLOOD RELIEF NIGHT $5!: Persons from selected communities that have experienced flood damage will have general admission tickets this Thursday night, July 12th, reduced from $18.00 to $5.00. General admission tickets will be sold to anyone with a driver’s license from Tracy, Balaton, Currie, Walnut Grove, Wabasso, Slayton, Westbrook, Lamberton, Storden, or Jeffers. This is a $13.00 discount. Children with the license holder will get the same discount. Bring blankets and lawn chairs. The story of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s family overcoming adversity is also your story.

A FLOOD OF VOLUNTEERS: A tremendous crew of over sixty people worked for hours during the weekend to repair roads, pressure wash mud, and clean sets and costumes. Somethings washed away—and others were damaged beyond repair. By Sunday evening, power was restored, roads graveled, and most equipment and sets were back in operating order. Director Erin Richards said, “The help has been fantastic! The hard work of cleanup has transformed a bleak landscape into an outdoor theater site ready for our many Laura Fans!”

THE WILDER MUSEUM is open and running normal hours. The Family Festival is on track for its Saturday events, including the Laura and Nellie Look-a-Like Contest. The Wilder Dugout site is still inaccessible due to flooding. The Laura Ingalls Wilder Pageant is an outdoor drama depicting the early years of Laura Ingalls and her family, set in the backdrop of the town of Walnut Grove, Minnesota, on the banks of Plum Creek.

GO FUND ME: A crowd funding site plans to be operational by Wednesday to help defray costs from storm damage. The Wilder Pageant has incurred a number of expenses for site electrical repair, sound equipment, damaged costuming and props, lots of gravel for road and site, repair of special effects, and the loss of our first two performances due to flood damage. The costume and dressing rooms are in need of repair and possible replacement. The Wilder Pageant Committee Go Fund Me site will accept donations at: http://www.gofundme.com/wilder-pageant-committee

WILDER PAGEANT FLOOD RELIEF NIGHT $5!: Persons from selected communities that have experienced flood damage will have general admission tickets this Thursday night, July 12th, reduced from $18.00 to $5.00. General admission tickets will be sold to anyone with a driver’s license from Tracy, Balaton, Currie, Walnut Grove, Wabasso, Slayton, Westbrook, Lamberton, Storden, or Jeffers. This is a $13.00 discount. Children with the license holder will get the same discount. Bring blankets and lawn chairs. The story of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s family overcoming adversity is also your story.

walnutgrove.org/index.html

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.

July 2018 Laura Ingalls Wilder Events

Sarah by Ma's House - Ingalls Homestead
Sarah by Ma’s House – Ingalls Homestead

July is always a big month for events. In addition to the regular events there is a new Event in Keystone, Ingalls Christmas in July. I hope you have a Laura trip planned for this month.

Walnut Grove MN

Fragments of a Dream Pageant

Museum/Pageant 2018 Brochure

  • July 6-7, 2018
  • July 12, 13, 14, 2018
  • July 19, 20, 21, 2018

Family Festival held in Walnut Grove City Park on pageant Saturdays
July 6, July 13, and July 20, 2018

11:00 am to 6:00 pm Check the Walnut Grove website for full schedule and more details as it gets closer. At this point, no speakers or celebrity appearances
are scheduled.

NOTE: July 11-14, 2019 they will have a Little House on the Prairie TV show cast reunion. They are still under negotiation so no cast list or firm date has yet been announced yet. Watch for more information. Check out my podcasts about my trip to the 2014 Walnut Grove Reunion.

De Smet SD

These Happy Golden Years

  • July 6, 7, 8, 2018
  • July 13, 14, 15, 2018
  • July 20, 21, 22, 2018

Pageant Selection for 2018 – These Happy Golden Years

Spring Valley MN

Eliza Jane One Room School Days – July 23-27, 2018

Mansfield MO

The Ozark Mountain Players are still in a rebuilding phase. They are looking at expanding to other productions during the year.

Laura’s Memories Pageant

July 13-14, 20-21, 27-28, 2018

Malone/Burke NY

Celebration of Youth and Morgan Horse – July 28, 2018

  • Children’s art on display, along with students’ essays. Award ceremony and the announcement of Honorary Laura and Almanzo
  • Kids art activities, 19th century games, vendors, food
  • Entertainment & more!

Keystone SD – Longtime Home of Carrie Ingalls Swanzey

Ingalls Christmas in July – July 25, 2018 – 10:00 am
An Evening with “Manly” Dean Butler – July 25, 2018 – 5:30 PM – 8:30 PM MDT

Walnut Grove Pageant Works Towards Recovery

Footbridge at Dugout Site Surrounded by Flood Water
Footbridge at Dugout Site Surrounded by Flood Water

TO: All Media Outlets [ For Immediate Release]
FR: William Richards (507-828-6616) Media
DA: July 5, 2018
RE: Wilder Pageant Rebuilding after Big Flood on the Prairie

On July 3rd, nine inches of rain and over three feet of churning Plum Creek swept parts of the set and staging away at the Wilder Pageant site forcing cancellation of this weekends performances. The water is receding leaving mud and holes. Pageant cast and crew have been quick to repair and restore road access and electrical and other services to allow for cleaning and repair.

The Wilder Pageant production, “Fragments of A Dream” about the early life of Laura Ingalls Wilder in Walnut Grove, will add Thursday performances to the next two weeks schedules to provide opportunity for people who were unable to see shows this weekend. The Family Festival will be on for the next two Saturdays and Pageant suppers will be offered on all pageant dates.

Plum Creek Flood Waters Receding
Plum Creek Flood Waters Receding

Volunteers have been cleaning, washing, rebuilding and checking out all sound and light systems to get the show back on track for the next six performances. Roads in the area have been flooded so it is best to check on which roads to use to get to Walnut Grove and the pageant site. The Wilder Museum is in full operation but the Laura Ingalls Wilder Dugout site is not available due to significant water damage to the road. Contact either the Wilder Pageant (888-859-3102) or Wilder Museum (888-528-7298) in Walnut Grove or access the web site at  http://walnutgrove.org/index.html

Costumes in Storage Trailor
Costumes in Storage Trailer

From Erin Richards, director of the Wilder Pageant: “The waters have receded and the land is drying up. It is now time for clean-up. The pageant committee has set clean up times as follows: Friday, 5:00-9:00 p.m; Saturday, 1:00-5:00 p.m.; and Monday, 5:00-9:00 p.m. We will be setting chairs at 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday. It is still muddy and very dirty out there so closed toe shoes or boots are a must, boots are best. We have gloves available for your use. Gravel has been put down but be careful where you park. Masks are also recommended as some areas are very ‘fragrant’ with mold and mildew. If you bring young children, you need to watch them at all times as we don’t know what’s been left over from the flood such as objects or contamination. Thanks for all continued support! You are all wonderful.”

If you are in the area and can help—please do!

http://walnutgrove.org/index.html

Floods Continue in SW Minnesota

Road with a HUGE hole washed away
Road Washed out on way to Pageant Grounds – Photo by
Nancy Amsden

I reported yesterday that the pageant was cancelled for this weekend since the pageant grounds are flooded. They are still waiting to see what’s going on after the water goes down, but hopefully they’ll still get something worked out for the following two weekends. That’s their current plan anyway. If you have tickets definitely call first and check road closures for the surrounding areas.

A red building and board walkway with rails now under water
Flood Waters Surround Building at End-O-Line Railroad Park and Museum – Photo courtesy of Jakob Etrheim

There are other museums in the area also under flood danger.

Wheels Across the Prairie

Wheels Across the Prairie Museum is located in Tracy, Minnesota – the next town down the line from Walnut Grove. This is where Ma, Mary, Laura, Carrie, and Grace waited for Pa to pick them up at the end of the line of the railroad. The museum has the original depot including the bench they would have waited on. They also have the Laura collection of Marcy Schramm that’s in the main building which is safe from the flood so far. Schramm’s father was one of the founders of the museum.

According to Jon Wendorff, Wheels’s director, water has overtaken the “blacksmith shop, general store, cottage, one-room school house and our new building.” They are closed until Saturday, possibly longer. Wendorff says, “pray for the rain to stop all across the state.”

Historic Village surrounded by flood waters
End-O-Line Railroad Park and Museum – Buildings Surrounded by Water – Photo courtesy of Jakob Etrheim

End-O-Line Railroad Park and Museum

End-O-Line Railroad Park and Museum is about a county south of Walnut Grove in Currie, MN. I must admit I’ve only driven past although it’s been on my agenda to stop for awhile. Funny thing I always seem to be leaving Walnut Grove heading West…. 🙂

It’s a historic village/railroad museum and it has one of the end of the line turn arounds like Laura describes in Tracy in By the Shores of Silver Lake. I’ve seen one before, but if you haven’t – and even if you have – it’s worth a stop if it fits into your schedule.

Like Walnut Grove and Tracy, Currie has been under flood conditions. The main road east of town is shut down at the bridge.

According to Jakob Etrheim the water hasn’t made it into their buildings yet. “So far so good. Water is up to the buildings but not in yet. But the crest hasn’t come yet either.”

Cedar Rapids Flood

As I said in my intial report, we’re experienced in flooding. Ushers Ferry Historic Village where I used to work was majorly effected in both 2008 and 2016. There is a lot to flood recovery. It’s not just waiting for the water to go down.

Send all these museums and organizations and good thoughts and maybe consider how much you could send to help keep our southwestern Minnesota Laura sites up and running once they get that far. I’ll do my best to keep you updated.

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.

Visit the Original Wilder Medal

I gave my thoughts on the ALSC division of ALA removing Laura Ingalls Wilder’s name from their lifetime achievement award. As part of it I said there really wasn’t anything we could about changing the name. That’s still true, but since then I’ve seen an amazing amount of support coming out for Laura. The very idea that they are attacking Laura and her books has roused reactions of defense from a lot of people who I wouldn’t have said even knew who Laura was. Comments run on articles the way online comments tend to run if there is a lot of them, but there has been support online as well. Sales of the books have exploded on Amazon and I’ve heard that memberships in Laura organizations and donations have seen a spike. So the thing we CAN do is to funnel some of that good will into helping preserve the Laura Ingalls Wilder homesite museums with visits, donations, and memberships.

Sarah in an incredibly pretty outfit standing under the Mansfield library sign.
This is my favorite Laura Ingalls Wilder Library photo. It’s from my trip in the late 1990s.

Laura Ingalls Wilder Branch of the Wright County Library

On my first trip to Mansfield I didn’t visit the public library – my mom planned those trips. However, once I started planning on my own I realized that the library was an important stop.

Laura and a club she belonged to, the Athenians, were part of the club women’s efforts to establish public libraries all over the country. Having a library is not a given and although it’s the norm for a town of any size to have a public library today that was NOT a given. It’s because of the efforts of now forgotten club women that many of our libraries exist. Laura and her club were successful and a library was established. (Club women don’t get enough credit for all the good they did.)

As you go across the country there are differences in how libraries are organized. In Missouri they are organized by county which means there is a main branch in one town (normally but not always the county seat) and then any other public libraries in the county are branches under the county wide administration. The Wright County Library has 3 branches: Hartville (county seat), Mansfield, and Mountain Grove. The Mansfield branch was named the Laura Ingalls Wilder Library at a reception in 1951.

Visit Laura at the Library?

During the last years of Laura’s life she wasn’t sure what was going to happen to her home. One of her thought was to turn the Rocky Ridge Farmhouse into a new location for the library which had been named for her. Another was that there would be a display of materials on Laura in the museum in a different location. After all you will remember that Laura left the income of her estate to the library, giving her daughter Rose Wilder Lane only life estate. That didn’t happen, but there was a strong connection between Laura and local library. She was one of it’s most loyal patrons visiting every week.

Laura donated many unique things to the library for them to display. That included the original set of Barbara Brooks dolls that she describes in the only known recording of her voice. Some things they returned to the museum when it started, other things they have no idea what happened to (for instance a tool that Almanzo’s father had used in building their home), and some you can still see on display today. It’s well worth a visit.

Original Wilder Medal on display in case
Wilder Medal on Display in Laura Ingalls Wilder Branch of the Wright County Library – Courtesy of Connie Ryle Neumann

Original Wilder Medal

By the time Laura received the Wilder Medal it was 1954. She only had a couple of more years to live so when she received the lifetime achievement award from the children’s literature division of the American Library Association, while honored she didn’t keep it. She passed it on to the library.

The medal was designed by Garth Williams patterning it after the image of Laura from Little House in the Big Woods. The medal has remained unchanged until this year. They ALA also no longer wants to use the Garth Williams design and in their committee recommendations suggested that past winners could turn them in for the new medal design.

The original Laura Ingalls Wilder medal was not well displayed in the original case (which was featured in the famous photo of Laura on that day – and which they seem to have pitched when they got the new library). It was stuck in between the dolls and I was amazed when I realized that THE original medal was sitting behind the boards where the casements of the doors came together.

Today it is much more prominently features in a newer, larger case — and I really have to get down there to get a better photo.

So if you are suddenly interested in this honor to Laura be sure to stop by the Laura Ingalls Wilder branch in Mansfield when you go to pay your respects to Rocky Ridge.

Last Updated July 19 2018: Thanks to Connie Ryle Neumann I added a clear photo of the original Wilder Medal.

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.

Dean Butler on Almanzo Wilder Farmstead Site

Dean Butler visited Malone NY, so should you!

Dean Butler has been the TV star most closely associated with the Almanzo Wilder farm in Malone/Burke, New York. He created a documentary about Almanzo and the homesite, Almanzo Wilder: Life Before Laura.

Now he’s helping kick off a new fundraising campaign.

Highlights from the Video

Almanzo-Almonzo name

Wear and Tear on home, drainage issues

Launch of fundraising campaign

Endowment for home

Biggest crowds when Dean comes

Fundraising Campaign

The campaign intends to address both short term needs and long term goals.

From their website:
“The time has come for ALIWA to address some significant work that is needed to maintain the historic Wilder home and the barns. While supporters have been very generous over the years and visitor numbers continue to increase, other increased costs of operating the homestead do not allow us to accumulate the funds necessary to address costly maintenance needs. There is significant roof repair needed on the replica barns. The house has been suffering from drainage issues that, if not corrected, will continue to create excess moisture in the house, which has already begun to result in rot. The fix for this will require extensive ground and, possibly, well work to be done, as well as repair and mitigation efforts in the house itself. We have begun working with local architect, Tim McCarthy, to manage these projects.”

Learn more about the campaign.

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.