PIERRE, S.D. – One of South Dakota’s best known Great Faces is Laura Ingalls Wilder, a woman who charmed the world with her stories of life on the prairie.
Wilder was born in the woods of Wisconsin on Feb. 7, 1867. Her family moved across the prairie, making stops in Iowa, Minnesota, Kansas, and finally settling in De Smet, South Dakota, in 1879.
Wilder began writing the “Little House” series in 1932. Her daughter, Rose, encouraged her to tell the tales and memories of life on the frontier. By the early 1950s, Wilder’s stories were being read worldwide. The series contains eight books, five of which have settings in De Smet, South Dakota.
Wilder was 76 years old when she finished the final book in her “Little House” series. After her husband died in 1949, Wilder continued to live at their home in Missouri, Rocky Ridge Farm, until she died in 1957 at the age of 90.
Her last book, “On the Way Home: The Diary of a Trip from South Dakota to Mansfield, Missouri, in 1894,” was published in 1962. Wilder submitted portions of that diary to the De Smet newspaper, which is where they first appeared.
Wilder’s books, and the resulting television series based on her books, have depicted life on the prairie for generations. The popularity and appeal of the “Little House” series have grown exponentially over the years to include both national and international audiences.
The De Smet Chamber of Commerce estimates between 25,000 and 30,000 people travel to De Smet each year to visit the town where the Ingalls family homesteaded.
South Dakota’s Great Faces weekly press release series is a project of the South Dakota Office of Tourism, designed to highlight people who have had significant impacts on South Dakota, particularly in the visitor industry. Click on the special “South Dakota’s Great Faces” link at www.MediaSD.com to access the complete list of articles.