As a huge fan and avid watcher of the Little House on the Prairie tv series, I was excited to travel to the home of Laura Ingalls Wilder. It was here on Rocky Ridge Farm in the Missouri Ozark Mountains, that Laura wrote her Little House series.
Naturally, my custom Laura doll was just the girl to take on this trip! She jumped into my backpack and off we drove to Mansfield, Missouri. We enjoyed the scenic drive, and arrived at an impressive, newly built visitor center. After purchasing our tickets, we watched a short film on Laura’s life and toured the museum. On display are many pieces from the Ingalls and Wilder families. Everything from family photographs to their shoes, even Pa’s fiddle! My personal favorite was one of Laura’s dresses that she made and had worn in the early 1900’s. For preservation purposes, no photography is allowed.
After the visitor center, I headed up the hill for the house tour. Laura jostled around in my backpack anxiously awaiting the moment she could get out and see everything for herself.
The house tour started in the kitchen, the oldest part of the home. In 1894, Almanzo, Laura and Rose Wilder moved to Missouri from De Smet, South Dakota and purchased Rocky Ridge Farm. The Wilder’s lived in a one room cabin and later on, moved the cabin to the current location. They began adding one room at a time until the current farmhouse you see was completed.
I was amazed at how everything in the house was just as Laura left it. The house doesn’t just have time appropriate pieces, it has Laura’s pieces. Everything in the home belonged to the Wilder’s, from the beautiful Blue Willow China in the cabinet to Laura’s makeup on the bathroom counter. Laying on the bed is Laura’s nightgown and hanging from a bathroom hook is Almanzo’s nightshirt. Throughout the home is gorgeous wood furniture handmade by Almanzo. Surrounding the fireplace are three huge stones that Laura persuaded Almanzo to haul out of the ravine below the house and into the parlor. Laura’s belief was that a home should reflect the property it sits on.
In 1928, Rose Wilder Lane, had a rock house built on the property with all the modern conveniences. She felt her parents deserved to have some luxury in their life. It was in the Rock House, that Laura began writing her stories and completed the first four books in the Little House series.
Laura and Almanzo were appreciative to Rose for her generosity towards them, but the Rock House wasn’t home. After living there for six years, Laura and Almanzo returned to the farmhouse. Both Almanzo and Laura passed away at the farm. Almanzo in 1949 at age 92 and Laura in 1957, three days after her 90th birthday.
As my tour was closing, the wooden wind up clock that Almanzo wound every night, began to chime. In that moment I heard the very sounds that Laura and Almanzo heard, letting them know all was well and they were home.
“Home is the nicest word there is.” – Laura Ingalls Wilder
Laura and I ended our trip in the gift shop of the Visitor Center. She picked out some size-appropriate Blue Willow China and an arrowhead for Kirsten’s Cabin. The gift shop sells prairie style bonnets, toys and of course books! For more Laura adventures see Laura Meets Nellie , Lunch With Almanzo Wilder or for details on my custom Laura doll visit Meet Laura Ingalls.