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Literary History - January 8, 2016

On the site of the original Little House (from the books by Laura Ingalls Wilder); historians reconstructed the house near Independence, Kansas, to closely match what it would have been like when the Ingalls family lived there. (Flickr Photo by Sheila Scarborough)

Q: Walnut Creek and this river are both mentioned in the Laura Ingalls Wilder book Little House on the Prairie. What’s the name of this river, located in southeast Kansas?


A: The Verdigris River 

The daughter of pioneers, author Laura Ingalls Wilder grew up in the Midwest in the late 1800s. She wrote about her childhood in a series of “Little” books. In the book Little House on the Prairie, she writes about her family’s time living in southeast Kansas, in which she mentions Walnut Creek and the Verdigris River.  
The Ingalls family moved from Wisconsin to Kansas in 1869. Laura was only 3 years old when the family lived in Kansas, but when she started writing Little House on the Prairie, she based it on memories of her older family members: Ma, Pa and Mary. The Michael Landon television series Little House on the Prairie was not set in Kansas, but at Walnut Grove, Minnesota, where the family moved in 1874.
Today, you can find a reconstructed cabin near Independence, Kansas, that resembles the kind of cabin Laura Ingalls and her family would have lived in during their brief time in Kansas. This cabin is a popular site to visit for fans of Laura Ingalls Wilder (as well as fans of the TV series Little House on the Prairie).

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