Springfield Missouri: Part 1

We left STL May 9th and headed to southwest Missouri to visit Jack’s family in Springfield (his mom, brother, sister and brother-in-law). We had a wonderful time. It’s always great spending time with family!

We ate out several times with Jack’s sister, Carol, and her husband, Delano. We even played Mexican Train Dominos. I’m proud to say the girls won two out of the three games!

The whole family took Jack’s mom out for breakfast on Mother’s Day at Village Inn. Carol’s oldest son even joined us. It was good to see our nephew. We had a great time “catching” up with everyone.

We went over to Jack’s mom’s (Lill) apartment nearly every day. When visiting with Lill, one can always count on Skip Bo being involved. It’s a fun card game (you need to purchase a special set of cards). Lill is really good at this game and so is my husband. However, I am proud to say that I finally won a few games against those two this week!

Springfield is about an hour away from Mansfield, MO. Mansfield is the final home of author Laura Ingalls Wilder and her husband, Almanzo, and daughter, Rose.

If you have been reading my blog for a while, you probably remember me going to several places on the Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Highway last summer (see posts from August and September of 2018).

At the end of last summer, I only had three places left to visit from Laura Ingalls Wilder’s life: Mansfield, MO; Independence, KS; and, DeSmet, SD.

One day I decided to drive down to Mansfield. Jack wanted to stay and spend time with his mom, so I went alone. It took about an hour to get there, but it was a beautiful day for a drive.

I had been to the Laura Ingalls Wilder Home and Museum in Mansfield back in the late 1980s. My older sister had come to visit us, and we decided to take our kids there. Between us we had five children approximately between the ages of five and ten years old.

I remember our visit there but don’t remember much about the house or museum. I was probably too distracted by keeping an eye on my two boys and my sister’s kids to make sure they didn’t touch or break anything. 😂

This visit would be different for two reasons: I was by myself, and they had built and dedicated a new museum and parking lot in 2016. The house and museum are located on the actual property (called Rocky Ridge Farm, the name Laura and Almanzo gave it) that the Wilders purchased and moved to in 1894 and lived at until Laura’s death in 1957. Rocky Ridge Farm was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1991.

When you walk in the new museum, you are standing in a beautiful foyer.

I went in and paid my admission. They now have a short informational video you can watch. You can choose what you want to do first.

I decided to go to the farmhouse first because touring it is by tour guide only, and a tour was starting very soon. They do not allow visitors to take pictures inside the house. 😔 I did buy some postcards of the interior of the house. The pictures of the postcards aren’t very good, but at least they give you an idea of what the inside looked like.

You can see Laura’s bed in the bottom left of this picture and her two dressing tables.

This is the desk where Laura sat many hours working on the manuscripts for her books. She wrote all manuscripts by hand.

Behind the wall behind the couch in the previous photo is the Wilders’ library. It was a small area totally lined with book shelves which were packed full with over 300 books.

Visitors were not allowed upstairs in the farmhouse or the Rock House. As we walked by the stairs we could kind of see part of this room. I would have LOVED to sneak upstairs in both houses to take a look! Oh well…😞

Next, I went back to the Museum to watch the video. Then I walked around the museum. I always love to read the information cards in each display, and since my husband wasn’t with me, I could take all the time I wanted. The new museum is really nice. Here are just a few of the pics I took inside the museum (zoom in so you can read some of the information on the cards).

This is Pa’s fiddle!

Almanzo was a handsome young man.

Then, I drove a little further down the road to The Rock House (some call it the Rock Cottage). Daughter, Rose Wilder, had the cottage built as a gift to her parents. Laura and Almanzo lived there from 1928 to 1936. This is where Laura began writing her first book, the now famous Little House on the Prairie at the age of 65. Unfortunately, I could not take pictures inside, but I did get some shots of the outside.

The views of the countryside from each side of the cottage were beautiful!

You can see Almanzo’s spring house located in a ravine below the Rock House.

Here is a close up picture of the spring house. It was constructed of cement and gravel and used to keep butter and milk cool.

After leaving the farm, I stopped in Historic downtown Mansfield which is a small town with a population of a little over 1,200. It has a lovely little town square surrounded by several old buildings.

This is the Bank of Mansfield which was founded in 1892.

Lastly, I drove to the Mansfield cemetery where Laura, Almanzo, and Rose are buried. Their graves are outlined with some shrubs and a small chain fence.

After paying my respects, I drove back to Springfield and joined my husband and his mom for some dinner. There’s more to tell about our Springfield visit, but I’ll save it for the next installment: Springfield Missouri: Part 2.

So, for now ….. “On the Road, Again!”


Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Highway: Vinton, Iowa

Vinton, Iowa doesn’t have much to do with Laura Ingalls Wilder, but it is “related” to her. Laura’s sister, Mary, went blind in the spring of 1879 at the age of fourteen as the result of a serious illness. She no longer could attend any of the regular schools.

The Ingalls family had recently moved to DeSmet in Dakota Territory. Her father, Charles, was a resourceful man who found helpful colleagues such as attorney, Visscher V. Barnes, who began to work to find resources for Mary to attend a blind school in a neighboring state.

In a series of letters to the secretary of the Dakota Territory, Mr. Barnes described Mary as a young and intelligent lady who ought to be provided for in some way. He described Mary’s parents as unable to make much provision for either treatments or education. He also inquired about territorial laws that might apply and would assist the Ingalls in sending Mary to a school for the blind.

The Iowa College for the Blind in Vinton accepted the contract with the governor of the territory to educate its blind students between the ages of five and twenty-one. The paperwork was begun to certify that Mary was blind and unable to obtain an education in Dakota Territory and that she was entitled to the benefits of a school for the blind for the term of five years. Mary carried the signed documentation with her when she traveled to Vinton, Iowa, and entered the blind school in November, 1881.

Mary actually attended the blind school in Vinton until 1889 after the territorial council extended the number of years each blind student was entitled to schooling. Laura described the change in Mary’s behavior and contentment in her her book These Happy Golden Years. After Mary had been at the blind school for two years, she made a visit home on the train by herself and “moved easily around the house instead of sitting quiet in her chair.” She was “gay and confident.” Mary learned how to do many things at the blind school such as sewing, knitting, beadwork, read books in Braille, and play the organ. When Mary finally returned to DeSmet in 1889, she used her newfound skills to help earn money for the family. She played the organ at her church for many years.

We visited the town of Vinton, Iowa, yesterday. Over the years The Iowa College for the Blind (which opened in 1852) had become the Iowa Braille and Sight Saving School then the Iowa Educational Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired. In the fall of 2011 the school no longer had a residential component after a violent storm with straight wind speeds of over 110 miles per hour damaged the building significantly. Shortly after that storm the blind school closed. Visually impaired school-aged children now received specialized instruction in their local school.

There are several buildings on the campus. Since 2008 the newer buildings are the North Central Region headquarters for the AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC).

Here are a few pictures of the main building. Although I couldn’t find any corner stone or date on the building, after doing some research online, I’ve come to the conclusion that this building was the original building where Mary attended (minus some of the “newer” additions which are obviously constructed of different materials). At any rate, Mary Ingalls definitely was in the blind school on this site.

This is the front. I couldn’t get the whole building in one picture, so the next two photos are also of the front.

These last two photos are of the back of the building. If you look closely, you can see the additions that were constructed with different building materials.

Here are some photos of the downtown area. Some of the buildings are quite old. One building even has the date 1875 on it, so that building would have been there when Mary Ingalls was attending the blind school.

Look closely at the top of this building for the date.

Vinton also had a square and a courthouse that was beautiful. There was a restored 1856 Vinton courthouse bell on display in front of the present courthouse that was built in 1905.

Front of the courthouse.

Side of the courthouse.

That’s about all for Vinton, the Iowa College for the Blind, and Mary Ingalls. We had a lovely afternoon visiting there.

There are three more places along the Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Highway I still need to visit: DeSmet, South Dakota; Independence, Kansas ; and, Mansfield, Missouri. I visited Mansfield back in the 1980s, but after visiting all these other places this summer, I will definitely have to go back. DeSmet and Independence will probably have to wait until next summer as we are already working our way back south to Missouri. However, there are a couple more stops on our way there.

So, for now ….. “On the Road Again!”


Previous Older Entries Next Newer Entries