Friday, September 2, 2011

DeSmet, SD Part 1

Last Friday we took a one day trip to DeSmet, SD. We ate a fast lunch in Brookings at 10:30am and then headed to DeSmet. Our first stop was the Laura Ingalls Wilder tour. The tour was almost full and we didn't want to wait for the next tour so only Ewe took the tour. That ended up being very wise as the Lambs would not have been able to listen for that long of a tour before wanting to play outside after the long car ride.
Surveyor's House 1879-1880
No photos were allowed inside. Laura felt like they were moving into a mansion when Pa was asked to live here so the railroad workers could go home to their families. They were very fortunate to live here through a long hard winter. This is where the tour guide talked the longest. Did you know only 5% of the Little House on the Prairie TV show is accurate according to the books? The Walnut Grove tour stressed the TV show so I enjoyed the DeSmet tour because it stressed the books. Our tour group had a group of Hutterites (or some Christian group like that by the way they were dressed) so it was very interesting to hear their questions. The women asked questions about baking bread and homemaking and the men asked questions about the tools. I'm not sure the tour guide could answer all their questions, but it was interesting to hear their point of view and they knew the answers to many of the questions by the tour guide because they had read all the books (children too). And the children were very well behaved and interested in the tour.
Lamb 3 is standing in a replica of the Brewster school that Laura taught in first.

The school was very small and Laura was just 16. No wonder why she was anxious for Almanzo to pick her up and take her home for the weekends! It was important for her to "survive" teaching here and help get money to send Mary to Braille school.

DeSmet's First School that Laura and Carrie attended. It was only a school for about 5 years before they built another school. Then it became a house and they recently moved the house here.

Renovation is still in progress and will take a long time. But it was easy to visualize the whole town coming to this school house for school presentations.

Then we drove a few blocks to see the Ingalls home from 1887-1928. No photos were allowed inside. Here the tour guide talked of what happened to Laura's sisters and family. I had read all the Little House books but I didn't know the history of what happened after that. The tour guide also pointed out other sites of interest near this house but we did not go see them. 
It was getting warm and the tour took about an hour and a half, maybe longer as I was listening and not paying attention to time. The Lambs ran around this garden, played on the playground across the street, and went to the Discover Laura Learning Center while I took the tour. Ram was so nice to allow me to go on the tour without the Lambs!

The rest of these photos were in the Learning Center.  They had a little play stove.

Lamb 1 and 2 were the students.

I think Lamb 3 would have a difficult time with discipline as a teacher with a smile like this!

Sorry for the glare on this photo, but the play train set helped visualize the placement of the homestead. The Lincoln Log house was not really in the lake!

Lamb 1 made some papers with split peas that were like Braille. Lamb 2 and 3 didn't have enough patience for this.


Not everything in the Learning Center was historically accurate, but it was a good chance for the Lambs to be allowed to touch and play with things unlike if they would have gone on the tour. I was glad we spent some time there.

Then we went to make a contribution to the Laura Ingalls Wilder Society aka gift shop. The Lambs played with some John Deere tractors and were shocked when we didn't buy that for them. Ewe bought some treats for herself and her goddaughter, sorry Lambs.

Next time I will post activities for what we did after we were at this site. There is so much to do in DeSmet that a day isn't really long enough!

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

I just finished a recent book: THE WILDER LIFE: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie
By Wendy McClure. Have you had a chance to read this?

If not I will caution you that this isn't a book for those who might be thrown off my an occasional curse word. I can't remember much of that however the book does reflect the author's young adult years and relationships. I found the book to be full of information although it was occasionally difficult to follow - but only because I am not a complete "Laura" junkie. The author's take on the Laura sites was informative though.

Ewe said...

Anon-After we got home from DeSmet I looked on Amazon for some books because I was interested in some of the books in the gift shop but there was not enough time to choose a book while the Lambs were waiting. I did notice the Wendy McClure book on Amazon but I did not choose it. I don't want to sound like a "know it all" since I've only been to two of the Laura Ingalls Wilder towns. But I have learned a lot at those two sites from the museums and tour guides plus I actually read all the books multiple times as a child and once again as an adult. I don't think I would like the McClure book with that "experience" and "knowledge" about Laura Ingalls Wilder. I think many people have watched the TV show and read some of the books, but not all of them. I do want to read more about Laura Ingalls Wilder in a good accurate biography, not from a grown woman reliving her childhood memories of her favorite author. I guess I am a L.I.W. Junkie! Then if you add in that about curse words, I think I'll pass on that book and instead get a biography written by William Anderson-there are several titles by him on Amazon.

Evelyn said...

Hi - Sarah is currently reading the series and enjoying it very much. They were my favorite books as a child! Thanks for posting pictures of the sites you saw. We enjoyed looking at them. Have you read "Laura: The Life of Laura Ingalls Wilder by Donald Zochert? Some others I have are "West from Home" and "On The Way Home". I was a L.I.W. junkie myself at one time!