Friday July 25
We left the hotel at about 9 am and traveled on a really pretty road to Mansfield. It was hilly and windy and we had fun going up and down the hills. There was a whoop or yehaw coming from someone in the car as we rode that roller coaster raod. We arrived in Mansfield at 9:50 and noted the population sign of 1349.
We entered the museum and bought our tickets. The house was full of children who were there on a bus so while we waited, we toured the museum. Beth commented that she would have loved to go and talk to those children. After they came out of the house, they sat on benches just outside the front door and Beth really wanted to go and sit in with them, lol.
The museum collection was wonderful. It was so awesome to see some of the things that we have read about in Laura’s books, Pa’s fiddle, the oval bread plate, stitching by all of the Ingalls ladies. The manuscript to Silver Lake was on display at the horse thieves chapter. Lorrie read the manuscript and I followed along in the published copy. It was interesting to see what parts were edited out. She mentioned in the manuscript that Big Jerry would come to town on payday, check out the horses and then come back at night and take all of the good horses. The townspeople wanted to shoot him but they never managed to. The published book of course did not include this as it was meant for children. But it was neat to read this story in the manuscript.
Before entering the house we watched a 10 min video about Laura and the guide explained some things, all of which we as Laura’s fans already knew. But the video was a nice way to get into the spirit of Laura and excited as to what we would see in her home.
We entered the house through the back door that led into the kitchen. This room was part of the log cabin that the Wilders first lived in when they arrived in Mansfield. It was detached and rolled on skids to it’s present location and added to another room that first served as the living and sleeping area. Rooms were added on as finances became available. The kitchen was very modern for it’s day. Almanzo had the stream piped into the reservoir in the stove so Laura would always have hot water for dishes. The cupboards and counters were low so that Laura could have everything at arm’s reach.
Next we entered the dining room where Laura loved to sit and read her mail. Birthday cards are still there from fans who wished her a happy 90th. The clock that the Wilders bought for their second Christmas together sits in the corner. It survived the SD fire and is wound daily by the staff.
Next came the bedroom and bathroom, parlor, music room and library. The fireplace was made from 3 large rocks from the farm. Almanzo had bricks all ready to make the fireplace mantle but Laura wanted the rocks. Our guide told us that this was the only disagreement that Laura won by using tears.
Also in the parlor were Almanzo’s collection of canes that he had made from wood on the farm. In the middle of that sitting area was a table that he had also made from a tree root. Almanzo enjoyed showing this table off to guests at Rocky Ridge Farm. It was beautiful.
We exited the house via the front door and onto Laura’s porch and had pics taken. The other members of our little tour group were happy to have met Beth and hear how she is related to Laura.
We headed to the bookstore and gift shop where we spent more $$ on books and souvenirs. Our ticket price included a tour of the Rock House so we got into the car and traveled ¼ mile up the road. The Rock House was a gift to Laura and Almanzo on Christmas Day 1928. It was meant for them to retire in and give up the farm. But after 9 years of living there, they got homesick and returned to the farmhouse. They sold the house in the 1940’s and rebought by the Wilder Assn in the 1990’s. The grounds of this home are beautifully kept. The rocks used in the banks as well as outside the front door were laid by a 70’s age Almanzo. Amazing.
We drove to the cemetery to pay our respects to Almanzo, Laura and Rose. Near Rose’s headstone is a stone marker in the ground marked B. It may be her infant son. Lorrie wanted to find Frank Cooley’s grave. Frank and his family traveled with the Wilders from DeSmet. We couldn’t find his grave.
We had lots of time to kill before our pageant so we cruised the town. We went to the LIW Library and saw the dolls that were given to Laura for her birthday from the librarians in CA. These are the dolls that she talked of in the recording that was made of her voice. Laura donated these dolls to the library and they are still there to this day. I had to get my pic taken in front of the library because on this forum I'm the LH librarian, lol
We had lunch at The Little House Inn. Our waitress was interesting to watch. She may have had too much to drink last night and was a wee bit forgetful as to what she was doing or supposed to be doing. She forgot the silverware and so Lorrie had to go and get it for us and for those at the table beside us. The poor lady looked like she was having a hard time standing up. Ah, memories.
After lunch we went to the town square. A few of us had never seen a town square before and was interested to see what one really looked like. Many of the businesses are lined up on 4 street and a park is in the middle. This is where the town events are held. A gazebo sits in Mansfield’s town square and to one side is a memorial bust of Laura. Around the bottom of the monument are the names of her books and the years of their publications. One of the shops along the square is the Mansfield Historical Society. We asked about Frank Cooley’s grave and the volunteer there went and found a booklet about it that lists the graves of those buried. The man there also showed us some old pics of what the town looked like through the years and pointed to those same spots across the square.
We returned to the cemetery to find Frank’s grave. It was easy to find this time. Beside the gravestone was a sign that said that Frank had traveled to Mansfield with the Wilders. We laughed and said that we should have just looked for a sign when we were there earlier, lol.
In Iowa and at the Rock House we heard that the Wilder Assn had purchased the house that James Wilder bought for the family in the town of Mansfield. We talked to a few locals and we located a house that fit the description to the one mentioned in the Rose years.
We still had a few hours to waste away before the pageant and so we crisscrossed the town a few times.
We didn’t think we wanted to go to the Little House Inn again for another meal so we decided to have a snack instead. We had some ice cream and then headed to the park to get ready for the pageant. As we sat there it began to rain. We didn’t give up hope that it would quit.
Thankfully, it didn’t rain long, just enough to get the outdoor seating wet. We paid our money and Beth talked to some of the cast. They invited her to go to meet the whole cast before the sow as they were having a meeting and prayer time. We took pictures with Beth and all of the Lauras. Everyone was thrilled to have Beth there. Before the show started the lady welcomed everyone and then mentioned that Beth was there and made Beth stand up for all to see her. It’s really fun to see how people react when Beth is introduced. Everyone is so shocked, kinda funny!
The show was excellent!! It began with an older Laura talking with the librarian and remembering the stories from her book. The cast did an amazing job.
After the show some of the cast wanted Beth’s autograph and pictures taken. One young girl told Beth that her grandfather is related to Laura somehow and that they have pics of Laura in their family history. Beth is going to keep in touch with her to see if they can figure out the relations.
We left the show and drove back to the hotel. Our convention is coming to an end.
We drove a total of 550 miles in Andrea’s car.
Saturday July 26
Our Diva Convention in MO ended with breakfast at Shoney’s in Ozark. We all had such a great time it was sad to say goodbye to Andrea. Thanks buddy for planning such a wonderful time, it was awesome!!
We left Ozark at 8:40 am and headed towards St. Louis. We passed through it between 11:30-11:45. We saw the arch and took pics through the window.
We stopped for lunch in Litchfield, IL at Denny’s at 12:30. Lorrie and I waved to Diva Susie as we passed through Litchfield. Susie’s town is directly east and so we were thinking of her as we traveled on through. We drove in WI at about 5:30 and could have made it back to Beth’s house but there is “no room in the inn” so we decided to have one more girls night out on the road. We stopped in Madison, at about 6:30, and found a hotel. We will only have about 35 minutes to travel tomorrow morning. After checking in we went out for dinner at Perkins. After eating we got back in the car and went round and round the roads trying to get back to the hotel. We laughed so much because we had gone all the way to MO and back and got lost in Beth’s own backyard. TOO FUNNY!!! We laughed our supper off.
We finally got back to the hotel and checked out the pool. They had an adult swim hour later in the evening but we were all too tired and full to swim and so we watched some tv and went to bed.
Sunday July 27
Our last morning together, how sad!
We left Madison at 7:50 and arrived in Beaver Dam at 8:25. After getting Beth’s gas tank topped off we arrived home at 8:35. Beth’s granddaughter, daughter and hubby were very happy to see us home again. Lorrie was anxious to see her hubby so she headed out at about 8:55.
To and from-1473
In MO 550
Total 2023Memories. What a joy our memories may be or what a sorrow! But glad or sad they are with us forever. Let us make them carefully of all good things, rejoicing in the wonderful truth that while we are laying up for ourselves the very sweetest and best of happy memories, we are the same time giving them to others.
Laura Ingalls Wilder