For those who don't know, De Smet is the town made famous by the last five books written by Laura Ingalls Wilder -- By The Shores of Silver Lake, The Long Winter, Little Town on the Prairie, These Happy Golden Years, and The First Four Years. The actual 160 acres that Pa claimed for his homestead have been turned into a living museum which is not only fascinating historically, but also tons of fun! During the summer it's a working farm, but worked using late 19th century tools and machines. There's a schoolhouse on site, where the kids can dress up and everyone gets a lesson from the teacher. Animals abound, all amazingly friendly and docile under eager, childish hands. The claim shanty that Pa built has been replicated, and children learn how to do laundry, churn butter, and make little games. (Z did the laundry twice and exclaimed "I could do laundry all day!") There's a dug out and a barn full of animals and interesting machines, like one that shells dried corn, leaving a cob with which to make a corn cob doll, like Laura played with in the Big Woods. (Eden made one of these.) There's a wonderful machine that is used to make rope, which Z used to make a jump rope, and one of the incredibly nice teenagers who works there will show you how to twist hay, just like the Ingalls did during the long winter of 1880-81 (this is the same hard winter which drove Teddy Roosevelt out of North Dakota).
Unfortunately I didn't get nearly as many pictures as I would have liked, since I forgot my camera, but these are all courtesy of Krista. Thanks, Krista!
|I know I'm biased, but I'm just not sure it gets any cuter than this!|
|Z in school. During the Spelling B the teacher asked Z what his name is and he said, "Lazarus, but you can call me Z for short!" The teacher exclaimed over his name and then asked him to spell it, which he very nicely did.|
|One of the barn cats had just had kittens, and Eden and Z could not get enough of them. |
They were adorable. (The kittens and the kids!)
The homestead also boasts the original cottonwood trees that Pa planted as a windbreak around the house. They're huge now, and beautiful. In town, you can also visit the house that Pa built for his family as well as the actual Surveyor's House the Ingalls lived in during their first winter in Dakota Territory. It's funny to visit, because in the book Laura describes the house as absolutely huge, but by today's standards it's tiny. We didn't have time to look at the town houses since we were on the homestead for almost four hours, but that will be for another visit.
So come to South Dakota, see De Smet, and feel free to visit us in the process!