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Laura Ingalls Wilder

De Smet, South Dakota Street Map

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For most pioneer families, Sunday was a day of rest as well as a day to attend church. In On the Banks of Plum Creek , Laura and Mary attended church for the first time in Walnut Grove, Minnesota . Their minister, Reverend Edward Alden, was an itinerant preacher from the east. He became a friend of the Ingalls family, and in The Long Winter he sent the family a Christmas barrel containing clothing, books and a turkey. The turkey was still frozen when the barrel finally arrived in May after the blizzards stopped.

Book "Cock-a-Doodle-Do"
A Book Printed on Cloth

Also in the barrel were two children's books, a book printed on cloth and a Mother Goose book.

The Ingalls family were charter members of the Congregational Church in both Walnut Grove, Minnesota, and De Smet , South Dakota . Pa donated the money he had been saving for boots to buy a bell for the church in Walnut Grove. On February 29, 1880 , Reverend Alden came to the Surveyors' House to hold the first church service in the area.

early church
Photo of an early church

After the hard winter, Pa helped build the Congregational Church in De Smet, and the family attended a Thanksgiving Day dinner to raise money for the church. Ma made a wash pan full of baked beans for the dinner. Here is an old recipe for baked beans:


Boston Baked Beans
1 lb. dried pea or navy beans 2 medium onions, diced
1/2 c. molasses 1/4 c. brown sugar
1 tsp. salt 1 tsp. dry mustard
1 c. boiling water 1/4 lb. salt pork, scored to the rind
Wash beans; soak overnight in water to cover. Drain; place beans in large saucepan and cover with water. Add onions and simmer one hour or until tender. Drain and turn into a 2 quart bean pot or casserole. Combine molasses, brown sugar, salt and dry mustard. Add boiling water. Pour over beans. Add more water if necessary. Place salt pork on top. Cover and bake in a slow oven (300 degrees F.) 6 hours, adding water if top seems dry. Uncover for the last half hour of baking.

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