Laura Elizabeth Ingalls Wilder + The Towns of Yesteryear

Laura Ingalls Wilder was born on  February 7, 1867 in Pepin County, Wisconsin. I read her  Little House in the Big Woods series over and over and over as a little girl. The books told the real-life story of Laura’s childhood. I loved the story of this little girl. Like me, she only had sisters; like me, the family kept moving every few years. Unlike me, Laura and her family were pioneers and settlers in the 1800s.
In her honor I am reprinting a post I wrote about visiting the working open air museum of Old Sturbridge Village. – Jadi


Town common
Town Common

We visited Massachusett’s Old Sturbridge Village in the fall, the perfect time to enjoy this open air museum.



Freeman Farm Sturbridge, Massachusetts, c. 18081725
Freeman Farm
Originally from Sturbridge, Massachusetts, c. 1808

The costumed employees and volunteers at Old Sturbridge harvest the land as the earlier settlers would have.



Apples, pumpkins and squash had been carefully collected, sometimes in unexpected free spaces. The settlers needed a dry area away from weather and animals, and floor space was a great (and, one hopes, temporary) storage spot.


Crops needed to be gathered while other jobs still had to be performed.

Printing Office Worcester, Massachusetts, c. 1780
Printing Office
Originally from Worcester, Massachusetts, c. 1780

Men and boys set type and did the printing, while women stiched and bound books. Country printers also brought out pamphlets, broadsides, sermons, legal forms, advertisements, and public notices.

Vermont Covered Bridge Dummerston, Vermont, c. 1870
Vermont Covered Bridge
Originally from Dummerston, Vermont, c. 1870

This bridge, one of the 12 remaining in Massachusetts, was saved from demolition to make way for a new highway in 1951. Fewer than 200 covered bridges still stand in New England.

Blacksmith Shop Bolton, Massachusetts, c. 1810
Blacksmith Shop
Originally from Bolton, Massachusetts, c. 1810

Along with shoeing horses and making nails, the village blacksmith (often a town had more than one) produced items of metal needed for everyday life.


The Fenno House is Sturbridge’s oldest building.

Fenno House Canton, Massachusettts, c. 1725
Fenno House
Originally from Canton, Massachusettts, c. 1725

Artisans on the Old Sturbridge Village grounds make traditional products in the old way. Many are available for sale in the gift shop. [1]




Old Sturbridge Village was born from the collective vision of a family. The three Wells brothers, Albert B., Joel Cheney, and Channing M. purchased David Wight’s farm with the vision of showing their collection in the context of a working village. The living museum received its first visitors on June 8, 1946. To date more than 21 million adults and children have visited the Village, and 250,000 people visit every year.

Churning butter
And his beard’s real, too!
Anyone care for a johnnycake?
Johnnycake, anyone?

In memory of Laura Ingalls Wilder, February 7, 1867 – February 10, 1957

NOTES: [1] The ruby red glass flask I purchased there winks at me from the window as I write this. Old Sturbridge Village is also a Site of Conscience © Jadi Campbell 2015. Previously published as New England’s Old Sturbridge Village, Part 2. More of Uwe’s pictures from New England and his photography may be viewed at

My books are Broken In: A Novel in Stories, Tsunami Cowboys, Grounded, and The Trail Back Out

Broken In: A Novel in Stories was  semifinalist for the international 2020 Hawk Mountain Short Story Collection Award and Finalist for Greece’s 2021 Eyelands Book of the Year Award (Short Stories). Tsunami Cowboys was longlisted for the 2019 ScreenCraft Cinematic Book Award. The Trail Back Out was American Book Fest 2020 Best Book Award Finalist: Fiction Anthologies, Runner-Up for the 2021 Top Shelf Award, 2021 IAN Book of the Year Award Short Story Collection Finalist, and awarded a 2021 Wishing Shelf Red Ribbon. The title story The Trail Back Out was longlisted for the 2021 ScreenCraft Cinematic Short Story Award.

Click here for my author page to learn more about me and purchase my books.

6 thoughts on “Laura Elizabeth Ingalls Wilder + The Towns of Yesteryear”

    1. Thanks Kim! My family used to visit Old Sturbridge Village when I was a kid. It was really fun to take my husband there. He’s responsible for the great pictures.

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