Everyone knows Laura Ingalls Wilder was born and lived for a while in the Big Woods of Wisconsin. Her Pa had an "itchy foot" that led the family away from the Big Woods to live in a number of other places: Minnesota, Kansas, South Dakota. As an old woman, Laura collaborated with her daughter Rose on those famous books detailing her life and times.
I have visited the Laura sites at Pepin, Wisconsin and DeSmet, South Dakota. Laura had a photographic memory.
There is one place about which Laura and Rose never wrote: Burr Oak, Iowa, 120 miles from the Little House in the Big Woods. The Wilders lived in Burr Oak one year, 1876-1877. At that time, the town was a stopping off point for travelers, with as many as 200 wagons coming through a day. Pa managed the Masters Hotel and his wife and children worked there. Little Grace was born in Burr Oak. The year was a painful one for the family and they eventually left in the dark of night without settling their debts. If you're intrigued, read Laura Ingalls Wilder: The Iowa Story by the respected Ingalls authority William Anderson. It's available at amazon.com, among other places.
The Masters Hotel, Burr Oak, Iowa
Tom and I stopped at Burr Oak the other day, on our way to attend to family business farther into Iowa. Because the town is very small and off the beaten track, it seems frozen in time. It takes almost no imagination to picture Laura and Mary picking apples or wading in the creek behind the hotel.
After Burr Oak, Tom and I drove on to attend to family matters. Of course, you know I knit and knit and knit my way through those few days.