Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Here is a front view of the shepherdess in her little dome.

This is the view from the store where Carrie's house used to stand. I like to think she came out of her home and looked up this hill, and had a quiet moment to herself. If we had stood there long, we'd have been run over.

This is a photo of Carrie's husband's grave. The shadow on the right comes from a FreeMason marker, a sort of club to which David belonged.

This is me standing across the street from where Carrie used to live. Her home was a little red frame house, very cute and very flammable. This is the tacky tourist shop in its place. We went in and wandered around but it didn't feel much like Carrie's place.

Here is a side shot of the shepherdess. You can see how small she is when she's compared to the print on the paper in front of her.

Searching for Carrie Ingalls
Warning: If you can't stand Little House on the Prairie, read no further!!

This post is almost exclusively for Annie, Katie, and Rachel Wright, and any other Little House fans out there who may be reading. Today I got a chance to do a little exploring in Keystone, South Dakota, which was the last hometown of Carrie Ingalls. The town is mostly tourist stops, gold dust souvenir shops, restaurants and any other money grubbing establishment, but here and there were a few relics from the past.

Rachel and Lisa, you requested that I try to find out what happened to Ma's little china shepherdess and today I am able to report back to you that I saw it, I took pictures of it, and I'll post them later when I can figure out how to do that. It is a tiny little thing, approximately 4 inches tall, and very cheesy looking, as if Pa had won it for Ma at the county fair back in 1859. In fact, this little girl looks like more of a little boy from the front and it's only from the back that she looks to be wearing a skirt. The colors are quite faded and from what I remember of Ma's description, don't quite match up. Oh well, Keystone Historical Society declared it is THE shepherdess, so I think we'll have to go with that. I'm of the opinion that it was special to Ma because it came from Pa and not so much for the actual value of it. They have it housed in a curio cabinet, in a little glass dome with some fake greenery under it, very sad and depressed looking, but it has pride of place in the museum and I believe it is their signature piece.

There were other items of Carrie's, including her jewelry, an enameled glove box, a black jet beaded capelet, and a fan from her niece, Rose, Laura's daughter. Most of the jewelry looked like what you'd expect to find in an elderly lady's jewel box, but some pieces were pretty neat, including an amethyst bar pin and necklace. There were also some pictures of her I hadn't seen,
and some mining items used by her husband, David Swanzey.

The museum itself is in the old schoolhouse in Keystone. It's quite big, sits high on a hill and was used as recently as the 1980s for classes. Students are now shipped to a neighboring town for school and the building is being preserved and used as the museum. Next door to it is the original school which is just a little log cabin, maybe 12x12, with only a door, no windows. Once in school, you were trapped!

Down the street, maybe two blocks, was the Congretational Church, now the Church of Christ, where Carrie worshiped for the 35 years she lived in Keystone. Apparently she was very active in the community.

When Ma died, Mary came to live with Carrie on the "quiet little lane" where the Swanzey house stood. Those are Carrie's words and the irony is that that little lane is now route 16 which is the main thoroughfare through Keystone and is busy, busy, busy!!! Carrie's actual house burned down a while ago (pictures in the museum) and to honor her (I'm saying this sarcastically), they rebuilt the Mt Rushmore Souvenir shop right it its place. I have a picture of me in front of that as well. Be looking for it. Mary died in Keystone and was taken back to De Smet for burial and when Carrie died, she was taken back to De Smet as well. Carrie's husband, David Swanzey, is buried in Mt. View cemetery and I made John take me there to find it. Supposedly, uncle Henry, Aunt Polly and three of their children are there too, but try as I might, I couldn't find the cousin's graves. I tramped around for a little while, and found David's grave, took a picture, and felt I couldn't torture the men of the family anymore, or else I think I'd still be there looking for Aunt Polly and little Ruby.

So, all in all, Keystone is a tourist trap, but it is possible to find a few quiet places where Carrie's story still can be heard. Most people in town for the day were gawking at the shops and chowing down on buffalo burgers, but I enjoyed my time searching for Carrie Ingalls.

Feel free to e-mail me, girls, if you have any other questions about my day. In two days, I'll be in De Smet and I'll write more about Pa, Ma, and the gang from there.


Daddypundit said...

It was really cool you found Ma's shepherdess. It was weird because the books said it wasn't officially home until that was put on the shelf, but it sounds pretty disappointing.

Thanks for filling us in about Carrie Ingalls and her home. We'll keep reading and look forward to seeing the pictures!

Annie and Katie

Bobby Wright said...

Paula, I showed rachel your post and she was envious.

John and boys, I feel for you guys.


ramblin man said...

Thanks for the sympathy Bobby. We are in De Smet (Little Town on the Prarie) now and Paula is over the moon. We are on to Plum Creek (On the Banks of Plum Creek) tomorrow. Our camera is getting a workout.

Jeri said...

Hi! Just read about your trip to South Dakota and seeing "the shephardress". That actually ISN"T the original figurine that Ma kept all those years. When she died, it was given to Laura, who kept it with all her things. It now resides inside Rocky Ridge Farm, in Mansfield, MO, where Laura lived and died. You can see it on display there. And yes, its exactly as described in the books, still with no chips or cracks in it. Just thought I'd let you know! If you're ever in Missouri, stop down by and have a look-see.

Paul Tastanis said...

Can you post a photo of it. I Just did the Keystone trip and they say it is THE Shepherdess