Laura Ingalls Wilder Missouri Ruralist Article Archive

Update, 2/24/14:
Unfortunately, the resource reviewed here has been taken offline, along with the rest of Nancy (Nansie) Cleaveland’s Laura Ingalls Wilder resources at She says she had to take down the site due to plagiarism issues with her primary research, but that she may consider returning the Ruralist articles in the future.–D

Article by Mrs A J Wilder in the Missouri Ruralist 20 Jun 1914

Article by Mrs. A. J. (Laura Ingalls) Wilder on the front page of the Missouri Ruralist, 20 Jun 1914. (Edit from Public Domain image courtesy of N. Cleaveland,

Laura Ingalls Wilder researcher Nancy Cleaveland ( has compiled Mrs. Wilder’s Missouri Ruralist articles (1911-1931), all of which are in the public domain and archived free at her website, in both article image and text transcription formats.

Typically written for an audience of her farmwomen contemporaries, the article titles suggest a wealth of commentary reflecting the theme that I love most about Mrs. Wilder’s famous Little House books: a steadfast attitude of optimism and appreciation wherever one finds oneself–a can-do determination to make the best of things. Continue reading

Posted in Home Life, Narratives and Histories, The Family Farm | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Recording and Preserving Historic Barns of Missouri & Kansas

Jeremiah Chastain Farm near Tightwad Henry County MO - Library of Congress Prints and

Barn at Jeremiah Chastain Farm near Tightwad, Henry County, Missouri (Public Domain, Photo Credit A)

Johnathan Bender, writing for The Pitch of Kansas City, reports briefly on the efforts of the Missouri Barn Alliance and Rural Network (MBARN) to document and preserve the historical significance of “the family barn”: The Missouri barn is disappearing as farmland prices soar.

The article cites a more thorough Associated Press article from Kansas City, (picked up by Rapid City Journal), which details more of MBARN’s efforts:

There is a feeling that losing those kinds of structures means we are losing a connection to a really important part of our country’s heritage,” said James Lindberg, a field director for the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “You would be hard pressed to find a more iconic symbol of rural America.

Continue reading

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Seed Company Catalogs Over the Years

1896 Landreth's Seed Catalog Cover

Photo Credit A

After Christmas, gardeners began receiving nursery seed catalogs.  Most of us can recall our parents or grandparents receiving catalogs from such familiar names as Burpee, Henry Field, Gurney, Shumway, and Stark, to mention only a few.  The colorful pictures of mammoth vegetables or beautiful flowers helped us to forget the frigid temperatures outside as we looked forward to spring.  Many years later, some of us are still receiving those same seed catalogs and visualizing productive gardens next summer.

David L. Landreth started the first seed company in Philadelphia in 1784, and he printed what is believed to be the first seed company catalog in the U.S.  Still in business today, the Landreth Seed Company introduced zinnias to the U.S. in 1798 and the first truly white potato in 1811.  Americans began to grow tomatoes after the Landreth Seed Company advertised tomatoes as the “love apple” in its catalog in 1820. Continue reading

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Accounts of the 1812 New Madrid Earthquake

New Madrid Earthquake - Woodcut Depiction

Woodcut Depiction of
the New Madrid Earthquake, 1812
(Photo Credit: Wikipedia Commons (Public Domain))

A news item reminds us that we are at the 200th anniversary of the largest of the great 1812 earthquakes along the Mississippi Valley, this one centered near New Madrid, Missouri, for which the fault line is now named.  Accounts suggest that tremors reached far enough to sway a church bell in North Carolina and to cause tears and falling rock damage in the growth rings of a tree in the southern Rockies[i].  At New Madrid, the shifts in the terrain were so powerful that they managed to temporarily reverse the flow of the great Mississippi River. Continue reading

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February 1937 – Farm Radio’s Window on the World

Schulstadt Boys Listening to the Radio, Aberdeen, South Dakota

Schulstadt Boys Listening to the Radio, Aberdeen, South Dakota, 1940
(Photo Credit A.)

In the 1930’s, radios and radio broadcasts were becoming increasingly available to rural families, bringing a new audio window into the broader nation and world. Radio provided useful weather and market reports and USDA-produced agricultural programs such as the noon-hour National Farm and Home Hour, but national entertainment programs were also very popular among rural listeners.[1]

Here’s a taste of some of the national programs the rural listener might have picked up 75 years ago, in February, 1937.

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