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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After the Flood by Bill Richards

As you are probably aware SW Minnesota suffered bad flooding in early July. I reported about it on July 7th and July 9th. Now the pageant has sent out an update and I’m republishing this here with permission.

Pageant Cast and Crew 2018 Box Car Days Tracy MN
Pageant Cast and Crew 2018 Box Car Days Tracy MN

After the Flood by Bill Richards

After the flood, Noah floated quite a while before landing and restarting civilization. Mucking out the ark after nearly a year must have been very educational. The water here has drained away in most places. Though we didn’t get 40 days of flooding, we did get more than enough to require a thorough cleaning after the muddy water receded.

Flood water is not selective. Like most, the Wilder Pageant site lost items of value as well as things that should have been tossed years ago. With the volunteer help after the flood, the site was cleaned and organized better than it had been in years. Expenses due to water damage will increase expenses by almost $10,000 when completed. Overall revenue was down by half. The $30,000 plus loss has been cushioned by generous donations of over $15,000 to date.

Like a bull session after a tough season, the Wilder Pageant Committee gathered last Monday night to take a look at the past and to prepare to move towards the future. Dressing rooms, secure costume storage and the Livery Stable corner of the stage were among the items that need repair and replacement. Another “Little House TV Reunion” is in the works spearheaded by the Wilder Museum. This will require another tremendous effort as did the 2014 event. Road construction on Highway 14 and flood-damaged roads may require added signage to help people navigate.

New members were welcomed. The past year of goal setting was briefly reviewed. From the 100 plus suggestions, the top 29 were evaluated for need, cost and potential for accomplishment. Changing the name of the pageant, added rain insurance and package deals for tour operators were not endorsed. Upgrading restrooms, adding more events for families, improving seating at the site and discounted tickets for the community were referred for further study.

Some items have been accomplished. We have new committee members, set three-year terms for the board, costumed the set crew and brought in $12,00 through various grants. Increased social media presence, improved communication with area businesses and creating and funding an executive manager position are ongoing.

It was a good session with fresh ideas and a sense that there will be a pageant at the end of the rainbow next year.

 www.gofundme.com/wilder-pageant-committee

 walnutgrove.org/index.html

Wilder Pageant
PO Box 313
Walnut Grove, MN 56180

888-859-3102
507-859-2174

pageant@walnutgrove.org

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

Walnut Grove TV Show Reunion Date Set!

Earlier this week the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum in Walnut Grove announced the date of their planned Little House on the Prairie TV show reunion. Cast members will return for the 45th anniversary of the first airing of the NBC TV show, September 11, 1974. Walnut Grove started telling people about the reunion a few months ago, but it took them awhile to negoiate with actors to find out which weekend they could get the most. Now they’ve decided.

45th Anniversary Event July 11-14, 2019

It’s come out in their brochure for this year and in some of their advertising, but now it’s time to help get the word out so this event is a big success.

A sign in front of the red Depot museum.
Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum Depot in Walnut Grove

Probable Schedule

If it follows the pattern that their event in honor of the 40th Anniversary, they will have similar schedules for the first 3 days. This information is based on what they did last time, I haven’t heard details for this year, but I assume they’ll be similar.

They divided up the cast members into 3 groups of about 4 actors. Each batch had one line to wait in. The people running the lines were very open to what you could bring into sign, but they did have photos that you could buy in the museum.

During the day you could do all the normal tourism things or stand in line for autographs. They had blocks of time when the performers were signing and built in breaks. Most of the attendees waited in line throughout the breaks, until they started signing again.

Pageant

The Walnut Grove pageant, Fragments of a Dream, is always on Friday and Saturday nights. Last time they had an onstage conversation with the cast with questions taken from the audience. You need pageant tickets to attend it. The earlier you order the better view you get. Reserved seats are folding chairs. Then the fantastic outdoor play about the Ingalls family life in Walnut Grove.

Photos

Last time you could only take photos in passing, no running around the tables. However, on Sunday they have the cast set up and you can go through and get your photo taken with all the cast from the reunion in a posed photo for a fee.

Details

These details are from what happened last time. Watch this blog (subscribe and connect on social media) to give you more information as it’s released and helpful advice.

Remembering Last Time

So stick around here and watch for upcoming posts with information, including videos on what it was like last time. Get started with this nice set of photos from the 40th Anniversary.

CNN Where Are They Now? (with photos)  – Some nice before and after photos from the 40th anniversary year. Not convinced that’s Jonathan Gilbert in the after shot since his eyes were blue in the photo from the series and are brown in the now photo and I just can’t believe they’d go to the trouble that colored contacted were in the 1970s for something that didn’t matter like that or that he’d wear that good of brown contacts now.
http://www.cnn.com/2014/05/08/showbiz/little-house-prairie-cast-where-are-they-now/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.

Laura Homesites Open for the Season 2018

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.

Wagon Ride at DeSmet Pageant
Wagon Ride at DeSmet Pageant

2018 Opening Dates

Pepin, WI – Opens May 11, 2018

Independence, KS – Opened April 1, 2018

Walnut Grove, MN – The visitor/gift shop stays open all year round with reduced hours in the off season.
April 1, 2018 the ground open and the hours expand to include weekends.
(Mon.-Sat. 10:00 am-4:00 pm; Sun. 12 Noon-4:00 pm)
May 1, 2018 they expand weekend hours again
(Mon.-Sat. 10:00 am-5:00 pm; Sun. 12 Noon-5:00 pm)
June 1, 2018 hours extend to 10:00 am – 6:00 pm daily.

Dugout Site normally not open until sometime May. The date is dependent on weather conditions, if there is still snow or if it’s flooded it won’t open as early. Call ahead and check. But it’s now open for this year.

Burr Oak, IA – Opened May 1, 2018 MonSat limited hours through May.
(Monday-Saturday: 10:00 am – 4:00 pm –Last tour 3:  on all days– Sunday: Noon – 4:00 pm) Hours expand with Memorial Day, May 28, 2018
(Monday-Saturday: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm-Last tour 4:00 pm- Sunday: Noon – 4:00 pm Last tour 3:00 pm)

DeSmet, SD –
Memorial Society – Opened limited hours in January – April, expand to Saturday during May (Monday thru Saturday 9:00 am to 4:00 pm)
Goes to 7 days a week June 1, 2018 (Monday thru Friday 9:00 am to 5:30 pm
Sunday 9:00 am to 5:30 pm)

Ingalls Homestead – Opened Memorial Day Weekend for regular hours 9:00 am – 7:00 pm every day with activities from 10:00 am -6:00 pm. They host school visits M-F through May so if you plan on a visit before they officially open next year, you may not be out of luck.  Visitors are welcome to join up with a school group, but should call or email first to get specific times as they vary daily.  800-776-3594 – mail@ingallshomestead.com

Mansfield, MO –
Opened March 1, 2018 (Monday thru Saturday: 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, Sunday: 12:30 pm to 5:00 pm)

Malone/Burke, NY 
Opens Sat., May 26, 2018

Spring Valley, MN 
Open Daily starting June 1, 2018

Keystone, SD – Opened April 30, 2018

Vinton, IA – Since they are kind of in a different situation, being part of an institution that has to be open all year. They don’t have stated open hours, but will gladly give a tour by appointment. Pat Barr wrote “We  will give a tour any day Monday through Friday. They may call Justin Ruegg at 319-472-5221, Extension 1226 or myself at 319-472-5221, Extension 1110.”

NOTE: The School for the Blind is in a state of upheaval. The regular school is moving to Council Bluffs to join with the School of the Deaf. If you want to tour, go as soon as you can.

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.