On the Way Home by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Laura Ingalls Wilder

From the 1962 Harper and Row edition of On the Way Home: The Diary of a Trip from South Dakota to Missouri in 1894 by Laura Ingalls Wilder: In 1894 a pioneer family left a drought-stricken farm in South Dakota and traveled to a new farm — and a new beginning — in the Ozarks. The travelers were Almonzo Wilder, his wife Laura Ingalls Wilder, and their seven-year-old daughter Rose.

Nearly forty years later, in 1932, Mrs. Wilder would begin writing her “Little House” books about her prairie girlhood which were to become classics. In 1932 she published Little House in the Big Woods. Eight more books have taken their place in the saga.

Laura and Almanzo Wilder

Laura and Almonzo Wilder, shortly after their marriage in Dakota Territory

Since the last of those famous books were published, many thousands of her million of readers have asked: What happened next?

With this extraordinary diary — a discovery made since Mrs. Wilder’s death in 1957 — that question can now be partially answered. For here Mrs. Wilder describes the towns passed, the rivers crossed, and the crops, birds, fruits, and flowers seen along the way as she moved south. And between the lines, and in Rose Wilder Lane’s beautiful setting, we sense some of the happiness this frontier family shared.

Rose wilder

Rose Wilder, daughter of Laura and Almonzo, age 7, 1889

Readers who already know Laura Ingalls Wilder’s “Little House” books will welcome this further visit with Laura. Those reading her for the first time will appreciated the accurate glimpse of the prairie frontier which her journal affords.

The Wilders spent the remainder of their long, happy lives in Mansfield, where Almonzo died, at 92, in 1949. When 90-year-old Mrs. Wilder died in 1957, her stories had been read and loved by millions of children and had earned an enduring reputation.

Almonzo Wilder as a young man

Almonzo Wilder as a young man

All photos: Laura Ingalls Wilder Home Association

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