"...the place looked so rough to me that I hesitated to buy it. But wife had taken a violent fancy to this particular piece of land, saying if she could not have it, she did not want any because it could be made into such a pretty place. It needed the eye of faith, however, to see that in time it could be made very beautiful."
Almanzo Wilder, July 1911
The Ozarks of southern Missouri was the promised land for Laura and Almanzo Wilder. They lost everything in South Dakota in disaster after disaster. For a time they tried to live in Florida but soon returned to South Dakota where a drought turned the farms to dust. They struggled to save some money to move, in a covered wagon much like their pioneering families had, to the "land of the big red apple," as Mansfield, Missouri was advertised to be. Their trip and arrival in Missouri were recorded by Laura in a diary account published as "On the Way Home."
It took years of work to turn the rocky land they bought into the lovely farm where they remained the rest of their days.
Laura and Almanzo built their house out of materials from the farm, constructing it to their own desires. Because Laura was very small, the counters in the kitchen are constructed very low.
Their house in Mansfield, Missouri is a rare museum in that it is unchanged and unrestored. Rose Wilder Lane simply closed the house up intact. The museum next to the house is full of treasures you've read about throughout the "Little House" books, like the lace Ida made for Laura's wedding, as well as photos I'd never before seen.
Laura Ingalls Wilder and Almanzo Wilder are buried in the town cemetery in Mansfield, Missouri. Rose is buried next to them.
Rose was a noted author and advocate of libertarian principles, a tendency probably acquired from her independent parents. Rose's one marriage ended in divorce, with her only known child dying as an infant in Kansas City.
The town of Mansfield is easy to get to (close off the exit of a four-lane highway) and well worth a stop. Of Mansfield, itself, it's hard to see any trace of the vibrant, growing town described in the new 'Rose' series of books.
Other places to see in the near-by area include the Wilson's Creek Civil War battlefield near Springfield, Missouri with General Sweeny's Museum of Civil War History just to the north of the battlefield. South from Springfield is Branson, Missouri.