“Remember, it is not the things you have that make you happy. It is love and kindness and helping each other and just plain being good.” Laura Ingalls Wilder

Published: Thursday, September 27, 2012 at 02:31 PM.

The log cabin where Laura was born inspired the “Little House” series that is loved by so many young and old alike. The cabin inspired the first book of the series Little House in The Big Woods.

In 1891 the Wilders and their young daughter Rose, moved for a short time to Westville. They were there for 22 months, just shy of two years, when in 1892 they packed up and went back to DeSmet and bought a small house. Two years later in 1894 they took their savings and made a down payment on a undeveloped piece of land just outside of Mansfield, Mo.

Some researchers suggest that the family’s stay in Westville influenced Laura’s literary career in some way. The family’s adventure in North Florida was shared by Laura’s cousin, Peter Ingalls. Peter stayed in Westville and married Miss. Edith McGowan, a local girl. Descendents of the two families have since inter-married and still live in and around the area.

Laura wrote a column for the Missouri Ruralist that was entitled “As a Farm Woman Thinks.” She eventually became the editor/columnist for the paper.

In 1922 Rose received the O’Henry Award for her story based on the families experience in Westville, entitled “Innocence.” The story was published under her married name Rose Wilder Lane.

Laura Ingalls Wilder stated the following about her stay in Westville: “After our marriage Almanzo and I lived in the little gray house on the tree claim. Then with our little daughter Rose, (now Rose Wilder Lane), we went to live in the piney woods of Florida, where the treed always murmur, where the butterflies are enormous, where plants that eat insects grow in moist places, where alligators inhabit the slowly moving waters of the rivers. But at the time and at that place a Yankee woman was more of a curiosity than these…”

The home where Laura and her husband moved to in 1894 is where they lived out the remainder of their lives. Almanzo died in 1949 at the age of 92 and Laura died in her sleep three days after her birthday in 1957 after suffering a stroke. Almanzo, Laura and Rose are all three buried in Mansfield, Mo., in the town cemetery.

1 2 3 4

Reader comments posted to this article may be published in our print edition. All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.

▲ Return to Top