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Laura Ingalls Wilder

De Smet, South Dakota Street Map
One Room School

 


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Laura Ingalls Wilder, her husband, Almanzo Wilder, and her sisters, Mary and Carrie, attended one-room schools in New York, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and the Dakota Territory. "I went to 'little red schoolhouses' all over the west and was never graduated from anything," Laura recalled in an article published in 1955 in the Kansas City Star . Laura left school when she was fifteen to become a teacher at the Bouchie School, called the Brewster School in These Happy Golden Years . She left school again in the spring of 1884 to teach at the Perry School for a three-month term and again in 1885 to teach the spring term at the Wilkins School.

The Brewster School
The Brewster School
--Photo courtesy of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Society,105 Olivet Ave., Box 426, De Smet, SD 57231 http://www.discoverlaura.org

When homesteaders settled on the frontier, families started their own schools in log cabins, sod houses and claim shanties. At the Bouchie School, Laura taught five pupils in a claim shanty for $20.00 a month. What challenges would today's teenagers have teaching a class of five students?

School House and students
Children playing outside a one-room school house in Johnson County, Iowa
--Photo courtesy of the Johnson County Historical Society, P.O. Box 5081, Coralville, IA 52241-5081 http://www.jccniowa.org/~JCHSWEB

Children who lived in rural areas and in frontier communities in the west attended one-room schools. Children often had to walk several miles to school. Laura and Mary walked two and a half miles from Plum Creek to the school in Walnut Grove. Walking to school Laura enjoyed looking at the tall grasses and the "wild blossoms of field and woodland." The girls saw children playing in front of the school, and then the teacher came to the doorway and rang a bell to start the school day.

Laura and Carrie attended De Smet's first school, which opened on November 1, 1880. Their teacher, Miss Florence Garland, placed Laura in the fifth reader. During the hard winter of 1880 and1881, blizzards forced the school to close when the trains could not get through to deliver coal and other supplies. In the fall of 1882, Almanzo's sister, Eliza Jane Wilder, who also filed a claim near De Smet, taught Laura and Carrie. In Little Town on the Prairie , Laura thought Miss Wilder was unfair when she punished Carrie for missing three spelling words.

 

 

 



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