Rose Wilder Lane and Laissez Faire Books

Laissez Faire Books has long been the only provider of the only known recording of Rose Wilder Lane’s voice, in the recording made  of an informal speech she gave at the Freedom School. They also provided both the book and audio CD versions of “Discovery of Freedom.” Unfortunately the former management had decided to go out of business and had let quite a bit of their normal stock be depleted. That includes both Rose CD products. They do still have the masters and are going through them and looking at re-introducing more products later. For right now they are continuing with a limited selection. If you want to support their efforts by buying books or get on their e-mail newsletter for updates, view their website, here:


Laura Ingalls Wilder Letters

Thanks to the article in the “Pioneer Press” I just received copies of two more Laura letters. That’s bringing up the total I have gotten copies of since I started this project to 16. Please keep passing the word along. One of these letters was dated Feb. 4, 1951 and Laura reports that she received 82 letters that morning. This is a higher number that I have usually seen her report, but I think the closeness of her birthday might have increased the number. You never know what you are going to find it in a letter.  Thank you to everyone who has shared and helped pass word along.


Early this morning we had an earthquake here in Iowa City. The epicenter was in Illinois so we didn’t get the full effect, but it was enough of a shake in our beds that it woke everyone up. There was a small aftershock this morning. Neither was enough that you were sure it was an earthquake and you have to think what is that and why am I shaking. This was the second one we’ve had in my lifetime. The last one was when I was in high school and I was upstairs and everyone else was outside and didn’t believe we’d had one until the news reported it.

 We don’t often have earthquakes in the Midwest, but we do sometimes. The famous one was out of New Madrid, Missouri when the area was just being settled in 1811-1812. They say it made the Mississippi run backwards and rang church bells in Boston. They keep predicting another big one, but no sign yet. There is a museum to the New Madrid, Missouri today (pronounced Mad – rid, not like the Spanish capitol) which really does a very nice job telling the story. I recommend a visit for anyone in the area. For Laura fans it’s roughly on the same line of counties as Mansfield and just a couple over.

Country School Association Re-Designs Website

The CSAA has re-designed it’s website in time to promote the 8th annual conference in June. Please take a look. It’s at the same address as before.

You might also have noticed the blog was down awhile last week. Regular readers will know that I’ve been having trouble with my web service provider. Unfortunately, it seems to have spread to problem with the web service  provider working with WordPress. I’m about at the point where I’m ready to give up and find another provider. However, I’m taking one last stab at getting everything worked out. (They did finally manage to get almost everything, but the photos working on the new site.) So you may see some up and down in the next week or two. I hope not.

St. Ansgar, Iowa and its Blue Belle Inn

A Lovely Bed and Breakfast

Just approximately 25 miles from Austin, MN, St. Ansgar, Iowa is barely off the Laura Ingalls Wilder trail. While there wasn’t anything on my life list to cross of in St. Ansgar it is a very well preserved and still active little town. Its active main street (complete with antique shops and a soda fountain) and neighborhoods of big Victorian homes (still with the large trees lining the street), look much like the old photo postcards you see of DeSmet, SD.

While I was there, I stayed at the Blue Belle Inn, a bed and breakfast that also serves as a tearoom at lunch time. The outside is painted in the colors of the blue belle flowers (probably closer to the Virginia variety of blue belles which is what we grow at home rather than the Texas version). The rooms are decorated after classic children’s books. If you only go for tea, you can tour any unrented rooms.

Anne’s House of Dreams

I stayed in “Anne’s House of Dreams,” after the book by L.M. Montgomery. Although the owners’ style of decoration seems to fall closer to buying things related to rather than creating a setting from the book, I did enjoy it. I should warn you if you want to stay in that room that it is in a smaller house behind the main Victorian which has some advantages, but it is also the room that is designated handicapped accessible, including the shower (which can be a wet surprise if you haven’t used one before).

Plum Creek

The big news is that they have a Laura Ingalls Wilder themed room. They call it “Plum Creek” and besides many of the books scattered around they have a framed original Sewell book jacket and their version of Laura’s red velvet dress (not a very close one) on a dressmaker’s dummy in the corner. Plus several versions of quilts mentioned in the series are used as quilts, pillow, and wall hangings. You can see their page for the room here:

A final room of special note for Laura fans is the one for “Heaven to Betsy” named for the book by Maud Hart Lovelace, another SW Minnesota author who is also enjoyed by many Laura fans.

Other Laura Bed and Breakfasts

This is the third b and b I’ve found with a Laura room (the other two are in Tracy, MN and Springfield, MO) if you know of any others please let me know!

UPDATED April 8 2017: I added the headings, the signature block and made a few minor edits for corrections.

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 onFacebookTwitterGoogle+ LinkedIn, and Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.

April Sesquicentennial Calendar – Pepin Depot

This month’s Pepin Sesquicentennial’s calendar photo is of the Pepin Depot. In the historic photo it’s a pretty happening place with a train arriving and people on the platform. The depot was moved into a corner of Laura Ingalls Wilder Park in 1985 and re-opened as a museum to transportation in the area covering everything from railroads to paddle wheel boats. It’s a bit of a hodge podge, brimming with interesting odds and ends, including a very nice Laura Letter and a tribute to Fern Marcks who for many years served as secretary of the Laura Museum. This is also the group that marked Laura’s teacher Anna Barry’s grave with the brass plaque that makes it easier to find in the Pepin cemetery.

Pepin Depot MuseumThey have an open house during Laura Ingalls Wilder Days in September. Several craft people are set up inside as a fund raiser. It’s right next to the public bathroom building so stop in when you come through. The photo is one I took of the Depot during Wilder Days with the tents set up around it.