Thursday, October 30, 2014

A National Review!

I made a national magazine! My brother-in-law called to let me know that there's a short review of Little Lodges on the Prairie in the newest issue of the Scottish Rite Journal. How about that?

A Little Misinformation

 “What makes you think Laura Ingalls Wilder had anything to do with Freemasonry?” (This said with a sneer.)
“Who would want to know about Masons?” (This said with a shudder.)
 “The Ingalls weren’t in that! They were Christian!” (Emphatically.)

The reception of Little Lodges on the Prairie has been overwhelmingly positive, with almost no negative feedback. However, the above comments I received at recent signings show that there are some individuals who evidently are misinformed about Freemasonry, about Laura and her family, or about both.

What to do when this happens? Should I try to explain, to clear up misconceptions and prevent falsehoods from spreading further? Or should I avoid confrontation and just bid them a good day?

So far, my response has been varied. If they actually ask a question, I usually do answer, even when I think they don’t really want an answer. I keep it short and to the point: “The records of the Lodges and Chapters they joined.” “People wanting to know about the organization the Ingalls family were active in.”
If possible, I try to find a common ground: “You’re right - they were Christian.” Then the ball is in their court, to inquire further or leave.

In any case, I try to always leave them with this thought: Laura (or Ma, or any of the family) would not have been involved with a nefarious group that was opposed to their values of faith. Since they were active in Freemasonry and Eastern Star, what does that tell us about those organizations?

What are your thoughts on how (or even if) I should address such persons? 

Thursday, October 2, 2014


October     ~ Robert Frost

O hushed October morning mild,
Thy leaves have ripened to the fall;
Tomorrow’s wind, if it be wild,
Should waste them all.
The crows above the forest call;
Tomorrow they may form and go.
O hushed October morning mild,
Begin the hours of this day slow.
Make the day seem to us less brief.
Hearts not averse to being beguiled,
Beguile us in the way you know.
Release one leaf at break of day;
At noon release another leaf;
One from our trees, one far away.
Retard the sun with gentle mist;
Enchant the land with amethyst.
Slow, slow!
For the grapes’ sake, if they were all,
Whose leaves already are burnt with frost,
Whose clustered fruit must else be lost—
For the grapes’ sake along the wall.

Monday, September 29, 2014

More about George Wilmarth

Today the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum in De Smet posted an article about George Wilmarth, an early citizen and merchant of the town. He, his family, and his store are mentioned in the Little House books. I thought I’d share a few photos on the subject, as I’ve been corresponding with some of George’s descendents in research for Little Lodges, and they have been very helpful and generous in sharing information, documents, and photographs. Thanks to Peggy Ward and Donna Davidson.

Here’s George as a young man. He served in the Union Army in the Civil War, re-enlisting twice.

Here’s a photo of him some time later.

And here’s his family. This is his second wife Margaret and 9 of his children, taken after his death. One of his children, a son, died at the age of two. He also had another child with his first wife.

George joined the Masonic Lodge in De Smet, serving in several offices. He donated a sword to the Lodge, which is believed to be his Civil War sword. Notice his name engraved on the blade. The Lodge still has this sword.

George is buried in De Smet (in St. Thomas Aquinas, the Catholic cemetery adjacent to De Smet Cemetery). His headstone was provided by a veterans’ association.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Wilder Days at Mansfield

Wilder Days had a really good turnout. It was a beautiful day - got a little warm in the afternoon, but not intolerable.

As usual, there were many things to experience. In town, vendors and crafters were set up in the square, and antique & classic cars lined the street for the car show. The Mansfield Area Historical Society was open, displaying many artifacts of the town’s history - including items of Laura and Almanzo. That’s where I was most of the day: they kindly had me set up there selling & signing my books.

I did take a break to go to Rocky Ridge in time for Lucy Lee Flippin’s reading with Bill Anderson. They read a scene from Farmer Boy - the blacking brush thrown on the parlor wall - and then Ms. Flippin read Eliza Jane’s account of her homesteading experience.

 Crafters were scattered around the museum grounds, too. Also at the home site, the stairs in the farmhouse were opened so that you could peek upstairs. David Scrivener played tunes on Pa’s actual fiddle. This year, the Association held a fiddling contest, so it was a very musical day. Many other contests took place throughout the day: Laura look-alike, beard, watermelon spitting, and greased pig, among others...something for everyone. You can see photos of many of these activities on the Museum’s Facebook page.

That about wraps up my Laura season. We’re back in Texas now, and boy, is it hot! The cooler temperatures up north will sure be missed for the next couple months.