Laura Ingalls Wilder's Homestead in South Dakota



A visit to Laura Ingalls Wilder Homestead


Laura Ingalls WilderThere are few names that can place a smile on your face just by being mentioned in casual conversation. For those who were late getting to know her writing abilities, many were introduced to Laura through the magic of television. Every school child and their parents knew the name as well as the story of the Ingalls family.

Recently I had the pleasure of visiting one of her homes in De Smet, South Dakota. Through the hard winters, or the beautiful summers we can relive the world of Laura Ingalls Wilder through her words as well as a reconstruction of her home.

It was a difficult life and the hardships they faced cannot all be explained easily. Laura had a gift for showing you through her words the world around her. She, as well as her siblings were taught kindness and sharing. It was pleasant to stand by the hayroof barn watching children play. In the distance you could see West Bethany Church built in 1905. It was originally located ten miles north of the Ingalls homestead.

I rode the covered wagon pulled by two mules to the little one room school. Our teacher graced us with the lessons from a typical school day in the 1880s. I had already seen a dugout like the one the Ingalls family had lived in Walnut Grove Minnesota before coming to De Smet. The building known as Ma’s house was built in Spring of 1880. It is known Ma’s house was torn down and the wood was used to build their new home in town proper De Smet. Five cottonwood trees that were planted by Pa (Charles Ingalls) can still be found at the homestead. These last surviving trees are dedicated to Pa's five girls.

The cemetery for the Ingalls family is located in the town of De Smet.

Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote the Little House series specifically with children in mind. Recently, Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography of her pioneering life, was released. The manuscript was hidden away and released December 2014. Visit the website for Pioneer Girl Project.

You may want to attend LauraPalooza 2015. The 2015 dates are July 15 through Friday the 17th on the campus of South Dakota State University (SDSU) in Brookings, South Dakota. If you're unable to attend you can follow the event on Twitter by following the hashtag  #laurapalooza15.

(See timetable of her life below)







2ab DugoutPioneers built dugouts on the treeless prairie that were affordable and made out of earth.













4a Shanty














5a BarnHayroof Barn






6a HomesteadSide view of their homestead. This is a reproduction, the original was taken down and they believe the wood was used to build their new home in town. The girl was making soap as we talked.




7a HomesteadThe inside view of their home.






7abThe covered mule wagon we rode on to the school house was fashioned after an 1894 sheepherders wagon.






SchoolhouseWe all had a lesson at the little prairie school. Click on the picture to view the riddle on the chalkboard and see if you can figure it out. I'll give the first person who answers it correctly in a comment below, a free copy of my book Verliege. It is your choice, print or ebook.




ChurchWest Bethany Church







Laura Ingall Wilder Timetable

Click the picture to enlarge the Laura Ingalls Wilder timetable of her life.








Laura Ingalls Wilder Timetable 2Continuation of Timetable.








Whether you visit their homes in De Smet, South Dakota, Pepin, Wisconsin, Burr Oak, Iowa, Spring Valley, Minnesota, or Walnut Grove Minnesota, to walk in her footprints is a step into the past.

Thank you for visiting my blog and don't forget to leave an answer to the chalkboard picture!


Stop by Micheal's store to check out his supernatural thrillers.




  1. I grew up with her books being read to me as a bedtime tale! I’ve always wanted to visit a few of the family homesteads–thanks for sharing your visit! Fun!

    • avatarMicheal Rivers says:

      Thanks for visiting Carrie. We really enjoyed it too, especially the ride in
      the mule drawn covered wagon. I’m going back to the town of De Smet to check out the cemetery where some of the family is resting : )

  2. avatarMonica Armour says:

    the riddle answer is an egg

    • avatarMicheal Rivers says:

      Monica that is correct! You’re the first to answer correctly so it is your choice. Would like an ebook from Amazon or print copy?

  3. avatarMonica armour says:

    The answer to the riddle is an egg .

  4. avatarGwen Hendrickson says:

    The answer is “an egg”.

    • avatarMicheal Rivers says:

      Thanks for stopping by Gwen. You are absolutely correct as well, however Monica answered correctly first.

  5. I live in Missouri and have been to Laura’s home a few times and loved it every time. thank you for sharing this. And your cute to lol

    • avatarMicheal Rivers says:

      I like to visit historic places Audrey, in fact, I’d like to visit the other places as well. Thanks for stopping by and for the compliment!

  6. A very interesting post and I am looking forward to more. I think it’s great that you positioned yourself in the dugout. It gives a better sense of proportion regarding the size of it. They were very small but appropriate considering that they stayed cool in the summer and warm in the winter. When you look at the homesteads—it’s just a lot of boards and I bet they were hard to keep cool or warm. I remember in “The Long Winter” when the Ingalls spent most of the day twisting hay for heating.

    The timetable is great. I started reading The Little House books in second grade. I really wasn’t aware how much they moved around.

    • avatarMicheal Rivers says:

      According to what I have been able to find out about the family Charles Ingalls was not a man to give up easily. Each time the family moved it was to upgrade their status as well as survival. I will be writing more on the family as soon as I get the information verified. You are correct about the wood structures especially when they are not insulated. That is the reason why the shanty had the newspapers attached to the walls. Newspaper is one of the best insulations around. Ask anyone who served in the Navy. The sailors used to place newspaper under their Pea-coats to stay warm.

      • avatarRangeWoman says:

        You are right. Newspapers were used for insulations as well has keeping people warm. Also, newspapers make great fuel when you twist them. I’m looking forward to further posts on the Ingalls family. Thanks for taking the time and effort to write about it.

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