Laura Ingalls Wilder - Prairie GirlLaura Ingalls Wilder (February 7, 1867 – February 10, 1957) began her children's writing career when she was well into her 60s. The books based on her life in Pepin, Wisconsin; Walnut Grove, Minnesota; Indian Territory (Kansas); and DeSmet, South Dakota have been the subject of numerous articles and titles. William Anderson is a noted Wilder expert; but Iowa has its own expert in Sarah S. Uthoff who frequently writes about Wilder on her Trundlebed Tales site.
Even though Laura Ingalls Wilder did not publish information about the Burr Oak community, the community and the directors at the Burr Oak Museum have researched and showcase the connection. On a recent September day, a friend and I headed out to visit the Burr Oak Location.
Laura Ingalls Wilder Park and Museum • 3603 -- 236th Avenue • Burr Oak, Iowa 52101
The Burr Oak House (Masters Hotel) is on the west side of the street and the renovated and restored Burr Oak Savings Bank is on the east side. Visitors to the center go to the old bank building first to pay for the museum admission and to visit the gift shop. From there a museum tour guide is available to guide visitors through the hotel. The approach to the side door is lined with prairie flowers, bursts of yellow, and coneflowers, as well as others that I could not identify. After our visit to Burr Oak, and later in the weekend my friend brought, as a hostess gift, the yellow planter/flowers in the lower left corner of this collage. Each time I see those flowers in my house, I think about something new that I heard or learned in Burr Oak. The photo board to the left of the building was created by a local artist, Nancy Sojka who was inspired by the art work of Cheryl Harness.
Since I enjoy having special dishes for special occasions I enjoyed seeing a place setting of the dishes Laura had at Rocky Ridge. These dishes were certainly much fancier than the ones the family would have used in Burr Oak. You will see later in a picture that the Burr Oak House (Masters Hotel) set the table for the evening meal with plain white plates and it seems tin cups were used for drinking. Certainly not these beautiful china dishes used later in Laura's life after she married Almanzo and settled on their little farm, Rocky Ridge Farm, in Mansfield, Missouri.
The Pioneer Girl Project, where questions surrounding the life of Wilder and notes about the progress of the book's publication are announced. Of course there are dozens of other websites focusing on the work of Laura Ingalls Wilder - a search of the Internet will turn up many of them, along with Wilder's books as well as those researched and written by William Anderson who wrote his own biography of Wilder, Pioneer Girl: The Story of Laura Ingalls Wilder (HarperCollins, 2000). In 2002, Cynthia Rylant's book Old Town in the Green Groves: The Lost Little House Years (llustrated by Jim LaMarche) was published by HarperCollins. The book was meant to fill in the gap of the years Laura did not write about but reviewers generally felt it lacked the intimacy with the times that Laura had in her written stories. Old Town in the Green Groves seemed more fact reporting than storytelling.
Fans of all things Laura Ingalls Wilder will be eagerly awaiting the publication of Pioneer Girl. And real fans will also not want to miss visiting Burr Oak, Iowa, one of Laura Ingalls Wilder's childhood homes. Burr Oak's Laura Ingalls Wilder Park & Museum website is at www.lauraingallswilder.us/.
Related blog posts:
McBookwords: Library of America - Laura Ingalls Wilder - December 3, 2012
McBookwords: Laura Ingall's Wilder's Birthday - February 6, 2011; Updated as Re-Thinking LIW's books - February 7, 2015. Includes Laura's recipe for Gingerbread.
McBookwords: Laura Ingalls Wilder - Happy Birthday - February 7, 2009 Includes links to Laura's Gingerbread Recipe.