Springfield, Missouri: Part 2

While we were still visiting with family in Springfield, we decided to stay a couple of extra days, so we cancelled our RV reservation for Carthage, MO. The whole purpose of staying in Carthage was to be able to drive over to the Independence, Kansas, area where the Ingalls family lived for a short while. I decided I could just drive from Springfield because it only added about an hour or less to the drive. I would be gone most of the day. Jack borrowed one of his brother’s (Carl) cars, so he wouldn’t be stuck at the RV all day.

This past Wednesday we left the RV around 8:00 a.m. and I dropped Jack at his brother’s house. Then I headed west towards Independence, KS. It was a gorgeous day with full sunshine, deep blue skies, and a few white, billowy clouds. I drove to the Missouri/Kansas/Oklahoma state line on I 44 and then picked up Kansas State Hwy. 166. Even though it was a two lane road (nice, wide lanes with good, wide shoulders), it was an easy drive.

The land was either flat or gently rolling hills. I thoroughly enjoyed the drive. Before I knew it, I was turning on the last couple of county roads completing the last few miles to the official Kansas home of the Charles Ingalls family. They lived about twelve miles southwest of Independence, KS, from 1869 to 1871. Mary, the oldest daughter, was five years old and Laura was three years old when they moved here. Carrie Ingalls, their third daughter, was born here.

The area in which the Ingalls family settled was Indian country. “Pa” (as Laura called her father in her books) had been told that the location would soon be open to white settlers. However, when they arrived this was not the case. It was discovered that their homestead was on the Osage Indian reservation, and they had no legal right to the land. They had just begun to farm when they heard rumors that the settlers would be evicted. They left preemptively in the spring of 1871. Those rumors may have prompted the Ingalls to leave. However, Laura’s parents needed to recover their Pepin, Wisconsin, land because the buyer had not paid the mortgage. Therefore, they left and headed back to Wisconsin.

On this site in Kansas is a recreation of the one room cabin in which the Ingalls family lived. This cabin was reconstructed by Laura’s vivid descriptions in her Little House On the Prairie book. The well on the site was dug by hand by Charles Ingalls with some help from his neighbor, Mr. Scott. The was instrumental in helping historian Margaret Clements discover the side of the Ingalls family homestead in 1969 on what was then the Horton farm.

Also on the site is the Wayside Post Office constructed in 1885. The Ingalls family had moved by then, however, William Kurtis moved it here in 1977 to save it from destruction and preserve it for the education of future generations. The Sunnyside Schoolhouse was built in 1871 about four miles from the Ingalls homestead, however the Ingalls children were too young at the time to have attended during their time in Kansas. Again, Mr. Kurtis moved the structure to this site in 1977 to preserve the building. It was their hope that children of future generations would be able to experience what school would have been like back in the late 1800s.

I hope you enjoy the pictures. Please read the information on the pics of signs. They explain further about some of the structures.

This farmhouse was built in 1880. The next photo is a close up of the sign in this photo. It has some interesting information on it. You probably will have to zoom in on the next photo, though.

This log cabin is a recreation of the Ingalls’ cabin.

Another photo of the old farmhouse. The farmhouse is where the museum and store are located.

This census page was found in the county courthouse. If you zoom in to the bottom left corner, you will see on the last four lines the names of the Ingalls family. If you have trouble, just look at the next two photos.

There is a restroom behind the farmhouse, and also some picnic tables behind the hand dug well. It’s a great place for a family picnic!

This is one of the smaller Laura Ingalls Wilder home sites. It doesn’t really take a long time to go through everything. That is, unless you are like me and like to read every word on every sign and every description with any artifacts. It probably took me a little over an hour to go through everything.

As I left and walked to my car, I noticed how quite it was out on that prairie. I could just imagine Laura and Mary running through the tall prairie grass playing. I got in my car with a smile on my face and headed back to Springfield.

So, for now ….. ” On the Road Again!”


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