Our increasingly annoying Garmin GPS wanted to take us down a gravel road, so we decided to backtrack and follow the signs to Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Homes instead. She and Almonzo moved to Missouri as a young married couple, leaving De Smet, South Dakota after enduring several years of severe drought there. At the time, their daughter Rose was still a small child.
The museum is newly renovated, with a big building housing lots of memorabilia from her life and works and a gift shop. There are three related buildings with three separate parking lots, none of which are labeled well. In hindsight, I’d recommend going to their museum first, buying your $14 ticket, and then visiting the older homestead next door, followed by a short drive to the Rock House. Your ticket allows you entry to a self-guided tour of Laura’s two houses. A nice look into prairie life.
The museum is close to their first Missouri home, a lovely white wooden house sitting atop a gentle hill among lots of lovely hardwood trees. Almonzo cleared much of the land surrounding this and their later home down the road for farming. However, some of the land has returned to forest now.
The second home the Wilders lived in here in Mansfield, Missouri is known as “The Rock House”, for obvious reasons. Rose helped to finance it as a gift to her parents, and although Laura loved it, according to the tour guide, she was always lonely for the old house, because it held happy memories of the whole family together before Rose grew up, married and moved to San Francisco to pursue a journalism career.