I still get excited when I get the chance to visit a new museum dedicated…
South Dakota: De Smet – Ingalls Family Home
The final resting place of several of the Ingalls family (Little House on the Prairie)
|The Ingalls Homestead|
|De Smet, South Dakota
|Summer hours: 9:00 AM to 5:30 PM (11 AM Sundays)
Winter hours: 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM (Closed weekends)
|Adults age 13 and up $14.00
Children age 6-12 $7.00
Children under 5 free
As we have traveled around the United States we have adopted some strange challenges. One of these has been to visit the locations of where the Ingalls family, of Little House on the Prairie fame, once lived. I have fond memories of watching the exploits of the family through the years as the children grew up into adulthood.
The Ingalls were a real family and their lives were captured beautifully by Laura Ingalls Wilder, who’s books were published from 1932 to 1943. She was the second of five children and was in her mid-sixties when her first books were published.
The Ingalls moved several times as their fortunes waxed and waned, largely around the mid-western states of South Dakota, Iowa and Minnesota. One of the places they called home was the small town of De Smet in South Dakota.
The Ingalls family were some of the first settlers to come to De Smet arriving by wagon from Walnut Grove in 1879! A number of the family saw their final years here, including Charles (Pa), Caroline (Ma) and Mary. There is of course a museum as well as some restored buildings to visit, including the house in which the Ingalls originally lived and the family home where they finally settled. Of course we had to tour all of these. The reconstructed school house was very like the one Laura, Mary and Carrie would have been schooled in. The houses were very simple, as might be expected, and our guides for the tours were very adept at telling the stories of the Ingalls, and putting their lives into the social context of the times.
Through our journey some of the most poignant experiences for us have been visiting the final resting places of the likes of Elvis Presley and Martin Luther King. These times put things into perspective and the fact that we are all mortal. Our final destination in De Smet is the small community grave yard where a number of the Ingalls family are buried. Their graves are simple, with modest grave markers.’
There is another site close to De Smet, the Ingalls Homestead, that we did not get a chance to visit.