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Laura Ingalls Wilder Historical Home and Museum – Mansfield, MO – Full-Time RV Life

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When I discovered the home of the renowned author, Laura Ingalls Wilder, was within driving distance to where we were staying in Branson, it was immediately on my priority list of things to do.  The Little House on the Prairie television series was a huge part of my childhood, and it sparked a burning desire to read all of the books penned by Mrs. Wilder.  Her beloved stories are still among my overall favorite and cherished books.  She lived through and documented a rich part of early American history and the migration West.  Her long travel journey from one adventure to another in search of a better life had a nomadic appeal–and (in my mind) her covered wagon pilgrimage had similarities to today’s RV travel and wandering lifestyle.

 

 

While the television series was wildly popular from 1974 to 1982 with Melissa Gilbert portraying Laura, Ms. Gilbert was only acting and the stories were added to, subtracted from, and manipulated to play well for TV.  The real stories were in the books written by the true Laura Ingalls Wilder–a daughter, wife, mother, and author who endured hardships, homesickness, fear, loss, joy, and love in a quest to find a better home and a sustainable life for her family.

I understand that in my life I represented a whole period of American history. 

Laura Ingalls Wilder

 

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Dani and I visited the Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Home and Museum on a weekday.  I want to preface the negative comments below by saying that the museum is quite lovely, informative, and wonderful for fans like me.  However, the museum workers were not friendly and gave a put-upon attitude when selling tickets and giving information.  Once we passed the stern lady at the reception desk, we entered into a movie theater presenting a video history on Laura, Almanzo, and the Ingalls/Wilder families and their migration to Missouri–all with family photographs and documents.  We then proceeded to the museum where memorabilia was displayed, including the famous fiddle her Pa used to play–the simple family entertainment that brought such joy.  There were also quilts, dresses, bedding, old letters, china, photographs, and many other treasured items saved by the family.

The real things haven’t changed.  It is still best to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasures; and have courage when things go wrong.

Laura Ingalls Wilder

 

The only stupid things about words is the spelling of them.

Laura Ingalls Wilder

 

It is the simple things of life that make living worthwhile, the sweet fundamental things such as duty, work and rest and living close to nature.

Laura Ingalls Wilder

 

After perusal of the museum, the door opened into a sweet gift shop where Laura’s books were on display for purchase.  There were also quilts, handmade soaps and candles, toys from the time period, and even prairie dresses like the one below.  When I was twelve, my mother made a dress similar to this one as a Halloween costume–the year I dressed as my role model at the time, Laura Ingalls Wilder.

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Suffering passes while love is eternal.  That’s a gift you have received from God.  Don’t waste it.

Laura Ingalls Wilder

Once the museum and gift shop were completed, there was a short stroll on a gentle incline to the farmhouse that Laura and Almanzo built together and raised their daughter, Rose.  It started as one room and they gradually added rooms as their budget allowed.  The home was beautiful and we could roam freely throughout.  The most impressive room to me was Laura’s reading nook, a tiny room with filled bookshelves and a small writing desk.  However, our tour guide was clipped and short with patrons and impatient with questions.  She repeatedly waved the brochure and quipped, “If you can read, the answers are right there.  Why don’t you people read?”  We found Laura’s following quote quite appropriate:

If you are becoming bored with life as it is, try a new line of work as a hobby.  You will be surprised what it will do for you.

Laura Ingalls Wilder

The farmhouse was lovely and nestled on a hill with surrounding woods.

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After the farmhouse tour, we took a short drive to the Rock House.  It was there Laura started writing the Little House books and recording her memories.   The Rock House was also situated among woods and a small creek, and was quiet and serene.  It was easy to imagine Laura gazing out the massive back windows and writing her engaging stories.  The path to the home is marked with these historical markers:

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Views of the Rock House:

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For memory’s sake–just a marker that I visited this museum with my now-adult baby girl.

The museum was wonderful and full of information and history about the Ingalls/Wilder families.  It was professionally designed and preserved and I’m so glad we got to visit.  I do wish the employees were more friendly and customer-oriented because it would have made the visit much more pleasant.  We had a great time exploring on our own and enjoying a piece of  my childhood while celebrating Laura and the mark she left on many of her readers.

Before we embarked on the drive back to Branson, we drove through the town of Mansfield, Missouri, where local businesses played into the Little House theme. We stopped by Caroline’s Bakery and got a homemade moon pie and poppy seed brownie (both were decadent!) for the road.

We even got a delicious midwest fried tenderloin sandwich at Ma and Pa’s Restaurant:

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On the way home, we entered the campground address in Waze and programmed it to skip the highways–best decision ever.  It led us through beautiful forest land, cattle ranches, and mountain views through the Mark Twain National Forest.

It was a memorable and precious day spent with my daughter.  One of the very best, actually.

To end with Laura’s wise words:

Little by little, times flies by.  Short if we laugh through it, long if we sigh.

Laura Ingalls Wilder

Have you read Laura’s books?  Have you visited the museum?  What was your experience?

Safe travels,

Dawn

 

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22 Comments Post a comment
  1. Reblogged this on Stevie Turner, Indie Author. and commented:
    What a great blog about Laura Ingalls Wilder. Thanks to Random Bits of Trial & Error.

    Liked by 1 person

    July 26, 2017
  2. you know that sounds just peachy despite the curmudgeonly Basil Fawlty-esque tour guides. Little House never really made it onto the reading list of a southern English boy in the 1960s but the whole vibe of her home oozes love of words. It would have been nice to take tea with her..

    Liked by 2 people

    July 26, 2017
    • I think she would have liked to take tea with you, too! She was a lover of words and expressed her memories in such an endearing manner. I need to learn to take the curmudgeon-y tour guides with a grain of salt–if I wasn’t such a fan, I don’t think it would have raised my ire so much. Thank you for stopping by!

      Like

      July 26, 2017
  3. This is reminiscent of the Canadian version by Lucy Maude Montgomery: Anne of Green Gables. While I’ve not seen Laura’s place, I did get into Lucy’s, seems like a hundred years ago in Prince Edward Island. It’s such a shame that your experience with poor hosting staff colored your visit. That posted comment about changing your job is very apt. A good guide improves the experience a hundred fold. Great pictures, Dawn.

    Liked by 2 people

    July 26, 2017
    • I am also a big fan of Anne of Green Gables and hope I get to see Lucy’s homestead, too. I have been such a fan of Laura Ingalls Wilder, and I think that’s why I got torqued at the tour guide, not to mention the young lady was embarrassed–just not acceptable in my book. The museum stood alone in excellence, however, and I’m so grateful for our visit.

      Like

      July 26, 2017
  4. Loved her books as a child too. I have them on my list of things to re-read. Too bad about the poor tour guides. Glad you were able to get around by yourselves to explore. Great pictures! Thanks for sharing this. Love traveling the country vicariously through you!

    Like

    July 26, 2017
  5. How fun! I read one of the books in elementary school. She and Almanzo lived long lives. Thank you for sharing what seemed to be a great experience.

    Liked by 1 person

    July 26, 2017
  6. I looked and found I took one photo of John and our two daughters in front of Laura’s house. It was August of 1976. Mercifully, the staff must not have made a negative impression on me, because I remember we enjoyed being there. It was hot, though. That was enough negativity for one day.

    Liked by 1 person

    July 26, 2017
    • It was a very nice day weather-wise for us. I was so excited to be there. The museum was wonderful on its own merit and I should not have let the rudeness get to me. 🙂

      Like

      July 26, 2017
      • Others will appreciate your honest opinion. People interacting with the public should never be rude, not like those people were.

        Like

        July 26, 2017
  7. I am from England and was so delighted to have seen your report on Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Home. I was a big fan of the show from the very first episode to the last. How I wish I could visit this remarkable site, thank you so much for showing us around its been absolutely fascinating. We have as many tourist places here in the UK where you get nasty staff, if you ever come to the UK avoid Windsor Castle the staff are so rude, bullish, patronizing and its downright a waste of money. But, thanks again for this lovely visit I so enjoyed it, and if you don’t mind I will reblog. Take care, all the best Anna.

    Liked by 1 person

    July 27, 2017
    • It’s an honor to have you reblog. I dearly loved every one of her books. England is on our bucket list, so I will keep in mind the staff at Windsor Castle. Thank you for reading and commenting! Dawn

      Like

      July 28, 2017
  8. Reblogged this on Anna Cottage and commented:
    I was always a fan of the show, and this has been a real treat, hope you enjoy too.

    Like

    July 27, 2017
  9. How interesting! I’m so jealous, I grew up reading her books as well. Then in school, one of my teachers read us the whole series too! That sounds like so much fun!

    Liked by 1 person

    July 28, 2017
    • The museum was like walking back in time and was definitely worth it! It was amazing to letters she penned and the family pictures. Thanks for stopping by! Dawn

      Like

      July 28, 2017
  10. The Rock cottage is beautiful! I’ve always loved stone houses. Hope you just caught the staff on a ‘bad day’ but the comment about reading the brochure would have really set me off! Glad you had such a great day with your daughter!

    Liked by 1 person

    August 1, 2017
  11. How neat! I read those books so many times as a child. Those, Anne of Green Gables and Anne Frank. Three girls who left their mark on the world and history.

    Liked by 1 person

    August 1, 2017
  12. I’ve seen the TV-series here in Germany, but had actually no idea who Laura Ingalls Wilder really has been, and that she became a well known, even famous author. Thank you so much for this article, you filled a know complete with it. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    August 1, 2017

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