Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Laura Ingalls Wilder's Homestead: The Historical Tour

I have way too many pictures of our fantastic trip to De Smet, but since this is my way of journaling and scrapbooking these days, I'm going to go ahead and just inundate you with all of them.  By the time I actually get around to putting them in a scrapbook, I'd hate to have forgotten the details.

The first part of our trip down "Ingalls Lane" was in the town of De Smet at the Laura Ingalls Memorial Society.  Here they have the actual Surveyors House that Laura, Pa, Ma, Mary and Carrie lived in that first winter.  It's been moved from the original site, but inside it's intact and contains artifacts from their home.  Because of the age of the home, no photos were allowed.

Amazingly, they considered this little three room home to be spacious.  In fact, they would often have up to 15 guests sleeping on the floor in the winter for days on end.  There really was only the main room with a stove, a small room off the main that had Pa and Ma's bed and a loft with a bed and dresser (real one that Pa made) for the girls.

On the site, there is also the Brewster School that Laura first taught in.  The school was originally 12 miles north of town (a four hour wagon ride on a good day) and it is small.  The girls loved hearing about how the boys and girls would bring Lard and Bread Sandwiches for lunch and if they were lucky, they would also bring baked potatoes in their pocket to keep their hands warm on the long walk.  The potatoes would then go into the school stove to stay warm until lunch.

Miss M could hardly believe the Laura taught school at age 15 without a high school diploma.  The fact that she did this to help her family pay for Mary's Schooling at the Blind School in Iowa only made her thankful Dad hasn't asked her to get a job to pay for her brother's private schooling this fall.  Just wait M, it could still happen!

The De Smet School where Laura and Carrie attended is in the process of being refurbished.  It's remarkable that under all the layers of wallpaper, they found in tact many pieces of the blackboard including a drawing of a child's face from the 1880s.  Amazing.  Miss M and Miss A could hardly believe that the walls were all covered in blackboard at one time, because that's how they wrote out their math facts, took tests and memorized long essays by writing them down on the blackboard. 

No Smart Boards or Laptops in those days.

It's amazing to think of how challenging it was to go to school on the Prairiey from the long walks to and from, the lack of writing materials, and the fact that boys were often needed to work the fields and missed numerous days.  The school year would only run from Mid October (after harvest) to early March (before planting) and several days to weeks were missed due to blizzards and bad weather.

Yet somehow, I think those children learned more in their daily life than my children do going to school nine months a year!

Miss A and Miss M could hardly believe the you would have to go outside for water.  No indoor plumbing or water fountains here.  Miss A thought it was fun that the doorbell for the school was actually inside the door.  Both girls are also considering adding Chalk Slates to their Back to School list.  I'm just not sure that Target carries them these days!

This is just a start to our trip.  More Laura to come.

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