Monday, June 29, 2015

Burr Oak

OH!  I wish my parents took me to Burr Oak, Iowa during Laura Days when I was younger.  I would have loved all the activities they had for children. Laura Days, on Saturday is mainly children activities. 

The little town did have some other things going on such as a parade, comedy, and a couple of bands playing.  Oh, there was a skillet pan toss, I am not sure if that was geared more for women or not.  The children could participate in a tug-of-war, sack race, play hoop and stick game, tic tac toe competition, make a cob doll, dress up in prairie outfits and get your picture taken on a covered wagon.
We did listen to a little band.  It was a very cute show.
 The Visitor Center is where the tour begins.
The origianl use for this building was the town's bank in 1910. 
This bank was the first to be robbed bank in the county in 1931.
 I love how buildings have such great detailing.
The Visit Center is also the gift shop and where you purchase your
tickets for the tour.

However, my true desire that day was to visit the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum.   I was so surprised to find a museum here in Iowa.  Did you know her first book was published in 1932 and is still in circulation?  Laura was 65 years old when her first book was published.  Burr Oak is a small little town along the banks of Silver Creek in the far northwest corner of Iowa.  In 1876 the town would have over 200 covered wagons passing through it daily.  After the horrible grasshopper plagues in Minnesota, the Ingalls family moved to Burr Oak, Iowa to help their friend William Steadman manage the hotel.  Laura was nine years old at this time, the family at this time consisted of Pa, Ma, Mary, Laura, and Carrie.  Ma did all of the cooking herself for the hotel because Mrs. Steadman was ill.  The Ingalls were here in Burr Oak for only one and a half years and then moved back to Walnut Grove, Minnesota, but before they moved, Grace was born. They actually stayed in the Masters Hotel only for a few months, then moved across the street next to a saloon.  Pa did not like the girls so close to the saloon and a wicked fire in the saloon, sent Pa finding another home in the town where Grace was born.  Pa found out how the Steadman's were cheating them and paying the family way too little for all the work they were doing. 
The Masters Hotel is a National Historic Site which remains on its original site.  July 1976, 100 years after the Ingalls lived there, the hotel became a museum and guided tours began of the three levels and eleven rooms in the hotel.

The hotel parlor was a place where guest would sit and entertain or visit. The room was to the right of the lobby.  Inside the parlor was a Crown Organ.
 Inside the parlor there was a replica of Pa's fiddle.
... Pictures of the Ingalls...
 Above: Top Picture is of Carrie,Mary, and Laura
Below is a picture of Carrie and her husband.
Below: A wedding picture of Grace and her husband

The Dinning area is in the lowest level.  As stated above while the Ingalls worked there, Ma cooked for the Steadmans, Mr. and Mrs. and their five sons, her family, as well as the hotel guest and she was pregnant with Grace.  It is estimated she cooked for 20-30 people for every meal every day.
 Inside the dining room there was a spinning wheel
and sewing machines the women would use back in Laura's childhood days.
 This dinning room is where the guest would eat.
This also doubled as a little restaurant.
 Above: Slates the children would work on homework.
Below:  A butter mold.
 Above: Wood Oven Stove
Below: The restaurant was served family style.
 Above: A close up of the sewing machine
Below:  A picture of a chair from Laura's younger years.
 Above: A list of chores Laura and other children her day would have.
Below: A work room where Pa's Tools were located.  
Todd called it the "Man's Cave" back in the pioneer days.

From the dinning area, one would go up some steps and next you would be in the kitchen where all the meals would be cooked.
 Above: In the kitchen hanging from a ladder are herbs drying.
Below: A table where the Ingalls and the Steadmans would have ate their meals.
The pantry in the house is the original pantry.  It held the dishes Laura and Mary helped wash.  The girls also made the beds and helped Mrs. Steadman care for her youngest son.
 Above:  The pantry off the kitchen.
Below: Wash tubs and wash boards
Above: Kitchen items found in the hotel at that time era.
Below: The type of stove Ma cooked all the meals on at the hotel/restaurant.

Upstairs, and very steep stairs were the sleeping quarters.  The Steadmans would charge only $0.25 per person, but they would sleep three to a bed and sideways to fit everyone on the bed.
 Below: A picture of the Ingalls Family 1890.  
Carrie,Laura, and Grace standing.  Pa and Ma sitting.

 Inside this room were replicas of clothing worn during this era.
Below: A picture of children's actual shoes during this time.
 Another room had children's toys during Laura's era.
Below is a picture of what Laura's corn cob doll would have looked like.
She talks about her first doll in the "Little House in the Big Woods".
 In a different room upstairs was furnished with things found in the school 
house during Laura's time here in Burr Oak.
 Below is a check board.  The checker pieces were painted corn cobs.
 Above: A desk with the actual superintendents meeting notes
when Laura attended.
Below:  In every room there were Laura's Virtues.

 Above: A close up of the beds they slept on.  
The ropes had to be tight and the mattresses were stuffed with hay.

I loved the fact, Todd was not entirely bored with our adventure.  He thought it was interesting and loves history.  I am so lucky to have him in my life.  This was well worth an adventure trip to and now I have another item to cross off my 50 x 50 list.  I would love to go to all of Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum.  (Fact: When Mary became blind, she went to the blind school in Vinton, Iowa.)
 (I am so in love with this man and his humor!)

Burr Oak is 2 hours and 50 minutes north to north east of Iowa City.



  1. I'm glad you didn't go there as a child because as a grown up you've just allowed me to one of my most coveted visits ever.
    I was raised parentless. My parents were in another country and I was raised by two of my father's aunts. Long Story. But I remember watching Prairie House and thinking that's the Family I would like to have, the experiences I would like to have, the friends I would deserve, even the nasty little ones I would love to face ahahahahah
    And today I decided to stop by and give you a huge hug, wishing you a wonderful Summer and bam! my dream life is alive. In detail.
    Your sharing is so appreciated Dear Friend.
    I hope you had a wonderful time. Thank Todd for the sacrifice. I'll be saying a praying tonight blessing you both.
    Take Care, Precious One.

  2. Fascinating post. I would have thought that the inn would have been larger, but they housed a lot of people in there. Poor Ma, cooking for so many while she was expecting Grace.

    I probably would've spent hours in the museum pouring over every artifact. What a wonderful road trip! I know you must have enjoyed it immensely.



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