Homesites Open for Season

Independence Cabin Interior

The Laura Ingalls Wilder Season has officially gotten underway again. If you plan a Laura trip before they open, make sure you call ahead. The homesite museums that are not fully open, may or may not be able to accommodate you by opening the museum, etc. or giving lists of what there is to see.

Pepin, WI – Opens May 15, 2012

Independence, KS – Opened April 1, 2012

Walnut Grove, MN – Opened April 1, 2012, Dugout Site not open until May

Burr Oak, IA – Opened April 1, 2012, Mon.-Sat.  10am-4pm, Sun. 12-4, After Memorial Day Mon.-Sat. 9am-5pm, Sun. 12-4

De Smet, SD –
Memorial Society – Open in April Mon.-Fri. 9am-4pm, in May Mon.-Sat. 9am-4pm, June-August 9am-5:30pm

Ingalls Homestead – Opens Memorial Day Weekend, Sat., May  26, 2012 for regular 9am -7pm every day with activities from 10am -6pm  schedule

Mansfield, MO – Opened March 1st

Malone, NY – Opens Saturday before Memorial Day and then open 7 days a week

Spring Valley, MN – Opens Memorial Day

Keystone, SD – Opens June 1, 2012


Laura Ingalls Wilder Collection

Relic from Graces House

It seems like there is something about Laura Ingalls Wilder’s writing that does compel people to try to find and possess a piece of “Laura World” as Wendy McClure calls it, by collecting physical things. Many of the things the Ingalls Family had were mass produced and therefore it is possible to find and buy the same or extremely similar things to those mentioned in the books and found on display in Laura’s last home in Mansfield, Missouri.

Laura’s Glass Bread Plate (famously featured in The First Four Years), a replica of Laura’s doll Charlotte, sunbonnets (worn on strings trailing down your back), and mounted twigs from the Ingalls Homestead Memorial Site in De Smet are common. Less common but still popular are the other pieces in Laura’s bread plate glassware, her china patterns and assorted knickknacks. My own collection also includes a lot of period things mentioned in the books, like a bullet mold, a butter mold, a Braille slate, autograph albums, etc.

However, I also own things like the relic pictured above. When Grace’s house was torn down some enterprising person connected with the Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Society in De Smet got a hold of some boards from the house sawed them up into thin slices and sold them at the gift shop. I also have a hunk of the Loftus Store wall which they also cut into pieces and sold when they cut through to join two store buildings. Plus wheat grown on the Ingalls Homestead and a shingle off Rocky Ridge, sadly this is off the second time they re-did the roof although the roof that was there when Laura was was also sold off a shingle at a time in their gift shop.

What’s the most unusual thing you have in your collection? Or what is still serving as your white whale? Currently I’m looking for just the right bear trap and a set of the character dolls created by California doll maker Barbara Brooks and described by Laura in the only known recording of her voice.

UPDATE: I appreciate the people who commented on the post with things in your collection. I’d have to say the only thing odder I’ve added to my collection is a paperdoll of me as Laura.

Sarah S. Uthoff 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. Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, and find her on FacebookTwitterGoogle+,LinkedIn, and She is currently acting President of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Legacy and Research Association. Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.

New Laura Documentary Announced

Rocky Ridge Farmhouse
Rocky Ridge Farmhouse

The Winter 2009/2010 issue of Rocky Ridge Review announces that the Laura Ingalls Wilder Home and Museum was partnering with Ozark Public Television to produce a documentary on Laura Ingalls Wilder. Tentatively titled Laura Ingalls Wilder: The Life Stories of a Pioneer Girl, the documentary will be filmed mostly around Mansfield, it will cover all of Laura’s life. It will feature both reenactments and a collection of archival images and documents. Tess Harper will narrate the documentary that is scheduled for release in Spring 2010.

OPT reports that they expect to have the documentary to the museum by April. They haven’t yet set an airdate yet, but plan to broadcast it on OPT. You may want to express your interest in seeing this production to your local PBS station.

Thanks for the grant

It was recently announced that the Louis and Dorothy Coover Regional Grantmaking Program contributed a grant of at least $4,800 to the Laura Ingalls Wilder Home and Museum in Mansfield, Missouri. Unfortunately, the only news release I found only gave a range not a specific amount. Some of their donations were much higher and I home they were generous with Mansfield. Learn more about the foundation here:

Look for Mansfield’s blink and you missed it mention in this article that gives the amounts. Yes, most of it is about a drug court, keep reading. 😉

Mansfield Date Changes

Laura’s Memories, the Wilder pageant in Mansfield, used to be the hardest one to find dates for. Now they have a minimal webpage where you can find the dates.

For those of you unfamiliar with the production, it’s staged in a built-in arena near Laura Ingalls Wilder Elementary. The seating is the most comfortable I’ve found at any Wilder pageant. The plot starts off with a take-off on Laura’s recorded conversation with Docia Holland (identified only as librarian in the play). As Laura remembers back over her life, stories from her childhood on play in her mind and on the stage behind her. It’s a musical and frankly I think the songs were better than the major production at the Guthrie last year. Be aware though that the cast shares the parts (for example, the same girl doesn’t play Laura all the way through, but does continue to appear on stage as other characters). Also, notice its early start time. They don’t use the dark for special effects, so it starts a full hour before the other two pageants (and they even offer afternoon performances sometimes). It ends early enough so driving to your hotel isn’t a challenge.

Long time fans will notice some changes in the date pattern this year. Usually they split the pageant dates between early or mid-summer and then re-stage it around Wilder Days. This year they’ve moved to the first two weekends in August and the first three in September, which I would think would be easier on the production. They’ve also got the date for Mansfield’s Wilder Day (most activities are on Saturday, although there is usually some Friday and Sunday spillover) set for Sept. 19th. This is the third weekend of September where for the last couple of years they were on the second. I hope this sticks because that takes them out of competition with Wilder Days in Pepin and means that I might have a chance to visit during the days again and hear Pa’s fiddle. Be warned Pepin is about 6 1/2 hours north of where I live and, depending on your route and road construction, Mansfield is about 9 hours south. Don’t try to do them both in one weekend.

This change in dates comes on top of Burr Oak’s earlier announcement of moving their Wilder Days from the second weekend in June to the last, moving them out of direct competition with Prairie Days in Independence. It’s getting more and more possible to not have to choose between events, assuming you have the time for multiple trips. 😉