Thursday, October 29, 2009

The REAL Little House on the Prairie

Dianne here --  When we don't refer to it as our "glorified storage unit," we jokingly call our little Pendleton, Indiana house the "Little House on the Prairie."   Well, yesterday we took a short road trip to the site of the REAL Little House on the Prairie!   Laura Ingalls and her family took a covered wagon from Wisconsin and lived for a time outside Independence, Kansas (just a few miles from where we are here in Coffeyville).   In her series of books, the one entitled "Little House on the Prairie" is the story of the time they lived here, 1869 - 1871.   In the book she describes their covered wagon journey from Wisconsin, how her father built the home (in detail), the packs of wolves and tribes of Indians that would stalk their home from time to time.   She perfectly describes the high prairie and the wind that we've come to know, although the tall grass is gone.

I had never read the "little house" books, but as a child my eldest daughter read the whole series, and we of course watched the TV show with the rest of America.   Two Kansas  women researched the area after reading the book, and were able to track down through Montgomery County records the site of the actual log home built by Charles Ingalls.   The tiny log home has been painstakingly reconstructed on its original site.   They have even found the well dug by Charles Ingalls and his neighbor, as described in the book.   The book also refers to  the Verdigris River (the one that flooded Coffeyville; see my prior post).   The Verdigris River winds its way near the site of the Little House on the Prairie, Independence, and Coffeyville.

We were struck by how small the log home was.   You can get an idea of this by the photo below.   Roger here...  REALLY, really small.  I visualized the two story house with the loft from the TV show.  It was much smaller than that.  There was no loft.  The space seemed to be about half the size of our motor home.  It was very windy during our visit.  It did not take any imagination to understand descriptions of the wind whistling through the small chinks in the plaster between the wood logs.  

  My imagination kicked in, trying to imagine what it must have been like to live there on the vast tall-grass prairie,

 so before we left I purchased the "Little House on the Prairie" book in the gift shop, went home, and read the whole thing!   The local landmarks are all in the book.   Charles Ingalls would take their wagon to get their supplies from Independence, Kansas (check back soon for a related blog on the Independence, Kansas Neewollah festival).

From the log cabin I could see the bluffs in the distance described in the book, where the Indians were camped.   I rationalized the purchase by thinking that after reading it, I would send the book on to my 11-year-old granddaughter  to read.  I suspect, though, that having been raised on Harry Potter she will politely accept the book and never open it!   Oh well, even as an adult, I really enjoyed it!!   It is so well written and descriptive that I could really imagine life in this area around 1870.   

Also on the site, they have moved an authentic 

one-room schoolhouse

 from a couple miles away, and also the tiny local post office

 that was in use up until the 1970s.  There is no admission fee, but donations are requested, with the suggested amount $3 per adult.  Roger and I both enjoyed this attraction more than we expected to; it was not nearly as "touristy" as we thought it might be.   It is open March through the end of October, so we just made it over there.  The web site for the attraction is   

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the pictures and info. on the "Little House." I am rereading the Little House series, and wanted to see if I could find any info/pictures of Council Bluffs and the Verdigris. I found yours posts and enjoyed them. It looks like you're having a blast! Enjoy!