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Laura Ingalls Wilder

 

De Smet, South Dakota Street Map
Wilder Claim
"The First Four Years"

 

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Before Laura and Almanzo were married, Almanzo filed two claims for 160 acres each. On one of the claims he agreed to plant ten acres of trees. He built a little frame house with special drawers and cabinets for Laura on his tree claim

Haying

Making Hay
--Photo courtesy of the South Dakota State Historical Society-State Archives, 900 Governors Drive, Pierre, SD 57501-2217 http://www.sdhistory.org

Laura and Almanzo worked together on their farm. Almanzo purchased a sod-breaking plow and Laura helped hitch four horses to the plow. She raised chickens and helped with the fieldwork. Laura said, "I have ridden the binder driving six horses."

The first dinner Laura prepared in her new home was for a crew of threshers who had come with their threshing machine to cut and thresh the wheat. There was plenty of food, but the navy beans were hard because Laura hadn't cooked them long enough, and she forgot to put sugar in the pies.

Threshing
Threshing
--Photo courtesy of the South Dakota State Historical Society-State Archives, 900 Governors Drive, Pierre, SD 57501-2217 http://www.sdhistory.org

 On December 5, 1886, the Wilders' daughter, Rose, was born. She was named for the wild roses that covered the prairie in the spring. Laura's sister, Grace, wrote about Rose in her diary in 1887, "Laura was over a week ago and put Rose in short dresses, Rose is a big fat baby now but just as pretty."

In 1886 Laura and Almanzo contracted diphtheria and were so ill that Royal came to nurse them. Rose stayed in town with Laura's parents and sisters. The illness left Almanzo partially lame and no longer able to do heavy farm work. Laura's cousin, Peter, came to live with the Wilders to help with the farm work.

Peter Ingalls
Peter Ingalls
--Photo from the collection of the Herbert Hoover Library (RWL#9)

After years of drought, a fire that destroyed their home and the death of their baby boy, the Wilders decided to leave De Smet. For a time they lived with Almanzo's parents on their farm in Minnesota. In 1891 the Wilders traveled by train to settle in Florida near Laura's cousin, Peter, and his wife, but the Florida climate did not agree with Laura. They returned to De Smet where Almanzo worked as a carpenter and Laura worked for a dressmaker for $1.00 a day. In 1894 the Wilders left Dakota for good and traveled in a wagon to Missouri where they purchased a farm near Mansfield. After Laura's death in 1957, Rose found Laura's journal of their journey to Missouri. She wrote an introduction and published her mother's journal, titled On the Way Home , in 1962.

 

 

 



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