Missouri State Historic Preservation Office
NATIONAL REGISTER SITES
LAURA INGALLS WILDER HOUSE
In August 1894, Almanzo and Laura Wilder and their daughter, Rose, arrived in Mansfield,
Missouri, following a six-week journey with team and wagon from their former home in De Smet, South
Dakota. Shortly after their arrival, they purchased forty acres of land one mile east of town. They
named their holdings Rocky Ridge Farm and set about turning the rocky, hilly ground into a thriving
livestock, poultry and fruit farm, which eventually totalled two hundred acres. Today, much of the land
has been sold, but the house continues to attract visitors familiar with the nineteenth-century frontier
adventures described by Laura Ingalls Wilder in her eight Little House books.
Built between 1895 and 1912, the white frame house was constructed almost entirely of materials
found on the Wilders' farm. Fieldstone formed the parlor fireplace and chimney; oak timber provided
the raw materials for boards, beams and paneling. Mr. Wilder did much of the construction, and the
structure grew gradually from the one room built in 1895 to ten rooms—six rooms and a bath on the
first floor and three rooms and a hall on the second level.
Following Mrs. Wilder's death in 1957, her daughter, journalist and author Rose Wilder Lane, gave
the house and many family possessions to the Laura Ingalls Wilder Home Association. They have kept
the interior decorated as it was at Mrs. Wilder's death. In 1970, because of its long connection with the
noted children's author, the house was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Laura Ingalls Wilder, the daughter of Charles and Caroline Quiner Ingalls, was born on February 7,
1867, near Pepin, Wisconsin. Her parents moved frequently on the frontier throughout her childhood.
Mrs. Wilder later chronicled these years in her stories.
In August 1885 Laura married Almanzo Wilder, a De Smet-area homesteader, and their daughter
was born in December 1886. Following a series of disasters, including the death of a newborn son,
disease, fires and drought conditions, the Wilders decided to move to southern Missouri—"the land of
the big red apple," as promoted by area railroads.
When the Wilders moved to the Mansfield area, they found a relatively new village. Francis M.
Mansfield, a Hartville attorney, and George Nettleton, a Kansas City railroad surveyor, purchased the
town site in 1881, and a post office was established the same year. The town's Kansas City, Fort Scott
and Gulf Railroad office opened the next year. Due in part to its location on the railroad, Mansfield
became the fastest growing town in Wright County during the 1890s.
Mrs. Wilder's writings first appeared extensively in the Missouri Ruralist. She also contributed
articles on rural life to other regional publications. In addition to her farm duties and writing, she served
as secretary-treasurer of the Mansfield Farm Loan Association, helped organize farm women's clubs and
promoted the establishment of county libraries.
In 1932, at Rose's suggestion, Mrs. Wilder wrote down some of the tales she had told her daughter
about her own childhood. The resulting book, Little House in the Big Woods, appeared later the same
year. The remainder of the series was published between 1933 and 1943.
Almanzo and Laura Wilder remained in their home near Mansfield until their respective deaths on
October 23, 1949, and February 10, 1957.
The Wilder house and an adjacent museum building are open to the public between April 1 and
November 15. The hours are 10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m., Monday-Saturday, and 1:30-4:00 p.m., Sunday.