Saturday, September 15, 2007

De Smet? You Bet!

No western visit to Ingalls land would be complete without a visit to De Smet, SD, named for Fr. De Smet, S.J., who established missions in the American West. The town of De Smet was made famous through Laura's books as the Little Town on the Prairie. De Smet, the Ingalls Homestead, The Surveyors House, and more, make this a "don't miss" stop on the Ingalls tour.

The Ingalls Homestead is such a well-done interactive attraction that I cannot help posting quite a few photos. I hope they load easily!

In P's view, few things are more fun than laundry done prairie-style. The washboard, the wringer and the line all got a workout. Twice.

Done with a long wash day, he took a break to rope a calf. After a drink at the pump (more trouble than it was worth??) the kids all headed over to the barn to drive the covered wagon to school. This is a very hands---on living museum sort of place, and they got to do everything, including drive the wagon!

At the school house, they were greeted by Mrs. Nelson, a very nice teacher. All the students put on aprons and bonnets, or straw hats. Each took a seat and the teacher talked about pioneer schooling. As she described a typical school day, she gave each student a "job". She assigned T to fill the water bucket for the class, but when she looked in the bucket, it was empty. She called T up to the front of the class, and drew an X on the blackboard.
"Do you know what this X is for?" she asked. "Yes. My nose," answered T. He put his nose up to the X and stood there until he was dismissed for the spelling bee. All the kids got their words right, including a Japanese exchange student, who was just learning English. I bet she was not expecting a one-room school house!

A dismissed the class by ringing the school bell, and the kids drove the wagon back up to the barn, where everyone had a lesson rope-making, each coming away with a length of colorful rope.

We did not stay on the property, but had we known...we could have "camped" out in a real covered wagon! Maybe next time.

Of course, there are more photos. Check them out here.


Alice Gunther said...

OK, the X on the blackboard is just too much!

And I know exactly how Trip deadpanned it! He has such a sense of humor.

I will be sure to bring you the book on Father de Smet when I see you. You've renewed my interest in him with this account.

BTW, my favorite photo is the one of Paul and Annika washing clothes with the field in the background.

Diane said...

Well, MacBeth, you beat me to it. (posting about DeSmet) We love the Ingalls Homestead! Isn't it so fun? The family that runs it is wonderful and really do a great job making it hands-on for the kids. We've been there 3 times now (it helps to have family in Sioux Falls). This time we did stay the bunkhouse. No one else was anywhere on the property, and it was almost magical to be under the stars on the land where the Ingalls once lived. Jack (the black lab) followed us everywhere and slept on the porch all night.

Fabulous photos! They really gave the flavor of the place. Can you imagine sleeping in that dugout for one night, never mind living there for months?!

MaryM said...

Okay, MacBeth, I was very excited to find your blog through Alice, but sad you came west and missed Denver. :^(

Great DeSmet adventure. Looking forward to more sites.

MacBeth Derham said...

Diane! I'm not scooping you...I fully expect to read more details of your visit...soon, right? And do you have photos?

MacBeth Derham said...

Mary, it's worse than that...we were in your neck of the woods to drop the big kids at the airport. Problem was, the rent-a-car was not allowed to be in your state, so we buzzed in and buzzed out as quickly as possible.

Next year, OK? I promise!!

MacBeth Derham said...

Alice, it's true! You know Trip so well. He played it so straight, LOL!! The teacher really chose wisely--if I did not know it, I would say it was staged and choreographed.

Oh, how we wished you were there!

Almamater said...


We love the Ingalls homestead destination. Last summer ('06), we camped in a tent on the property. Let me tell you, that was living history. The winds over that prairie just about blew us away. All night the top of our dome tent was touching down on the ground in the center of the tent. A couple of poles snapped and we started to take it all down at around 5 am because we could see a storm coming only to have it change direction as put the last bags in the trunk. Whew! Can't imagine staying a a covered wagon night after night out there!

Glad you enjoyed your visit.