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Laura Ingalls Wilder

Pioneering Journeys of the Ingalls Family
Pepin, Wisconsin
General Store


Return to Pepin, Wisconsin

In The Little House in the Big Woods , Laura, Mary, Baby Carrie, Ma and Pa traveled in their wagon to the town of Pepin where Pa traded furs for supplies. Laura and Mary saw a general store for the first time.

General stores provided places for pioneers to trade their furs, vegetables, eggs and butter for tools, cloth, lamp oil, flour, sugar and other supplies. What do you think the Ingalls family purchased in the general store in Pepin?

interior of a general store
interior of a general store
Walnut Hill Post Office and General Store
Interior of a General Store
Walnut Hill Post Office and General Store
--Photographs courtesy of Living History Farms, 2600 111 th Street, Urbandale, IA 50322 http://www.livinghistoryfarms.org

Items in general stores were grouped in special areas. In this general store, located on the Living History Farms in Des Moines, Iowa, the farming tools are grouped in the back of the store. Merchandise was often stored in boxes and barrels. The barrels in the front contain brooms.

Post Office at the Shelburne Museum
Post Office
--Photograph courtesy of the Shelburne Museum, P.O. Box 10, 5555 Shelburne Road, Shelburne, VT 05482 http://www.shelburnemuseum.org

Dishes and other household items are located on shelves behind the counter in this general store. Other sections in the store contain dry goods such as bolts of cloth, thread, ribbon and food supplies such as flour and sugar.

Early post offices were located in general stores. This general store at the Shelburne Museum in Vermont also contains a barbershop and a doctor's and a dentist's offices on the second floor. Before railroads arrived in frontier towns, mail was delivered by stagecoach. Letters were expensive and could take months to arrive.

After leaving the general store, the Ingalls family had a picnic on the banks of Lake Pepin, a widening of the Mississippi River. Laura and Mary walked along the shores of the lake, andLaura filled her pockets with the smooth rocks she found in the sand.


The Mississippi River at Pepin, Wisconsin The Mississippi River at Pepin
The Mississippi River


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