A Visit to Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Home in Mansfield, Missouri

Book Cover of Little House on the PrairieLittle House on the Prairie is surely one of the most beloved books and series of books ever written. It immediately conjures up images of Laura Ingalls and her sisters romping around through the tall grass prairie or Pa sitting near a fire playing his fiddle at the end of long day.

Most people think of Kansas or South Dakota or Wisconsin and Minnesota when they envision the Little House on the Prairie.

Rarely do they think of Missouri.


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Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Home In Missouri

Exterior of Laura Ingalls Wilder's farmhouse in MissouriThose Happy Golden Years” where Laura and Almanzo lived out their lives took place in the southwest Missouri community of Mansfield. She began writing for Missouri Ruralist Magazine in the 1920s and published her first book, Little House on the Prairie, in 1932.

A visit to southwest Missouri allows you to tour the house and see the exact table where Laura sat and wrote in pencil. She used pencils all of the way down to a little nub, barely big enough to grasp with your hand.

Pa's Fiddle - Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum in Mansfield MOThose pencil nubs are a part of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum adjacent to the farm house. You can also see the original pages of the Little House books. They are kept under glass and just a few pages brought out at a time.

Nearby, in another climate controlled case is Pa’s Fiddle — the real one, not a reproduction or one from the time period, but the real fiddle that we came to love through the Little House books. Once a year, it is tuned up and played again. That happens the third weekend of September for the Wilder Days Festival in Mansfield.

Pa's Fiddle being played at Wilder Days in Mansfield, Missouri

David Scrivener plays Pa’s Fiddle at the Wilder Days Festival in Mansfield, Mo. Photo courtesy of Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum

Carrie Ingalls' posessions at the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum in Mansfield, MO L

You can also see a number of family artifacts, including Eliza Jane Wilder’s traveling trunk, a number of items that sister Mary used at the blind school, and a morning glory quilt hand appliqued by Laura.

And down the road a few miles is The Rock House, a house built for Laura and Almanzo by their daughter Rose. They lived there a few years, but eventually moved back to their simple farm house.

Laura Ingalls Wilder Gravesite in Missouri

Laura Ingalls Wilder's gravesite in Mansfield, MOYou can’t leave southwest Missouri without paying your final respects to Laura, Mannie and Rose in the city cemetery. It’s a small cemetery, but still a small sign points you in the right direction.

As you can see, it’s a small grave with a normal size marker. Of course, anything big enough to reflect Laura Ingalls Wilder’s impact on the world wouldn’t fit in this cemetery. And it would not reflect the simplicity with which the Ingalls and Wilders lived their lives.

Visitors often leave coins or notes or other trinkets on the grave site, all  personal expressions of appreciation for the gift of her words and endless hours of transformative reading.

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