Thursday, September 27, 2007

Almanzo Wilder Farm

Sometime this last summer I realized I had never read the Little House on the Prairie books. I love to read and did most of the time growing up but somehow I missed these classics (...hiding my embarrassment now...). It's even more surprising considering how in love I was with that time period in America. For my 8th grade banquet I found a perfect ankle-hiding cream-colored lacy dress and imagined climbing into a covered wagon or stirring beans over an open flame. Of course, in my fire, we never used burnt cow pies that we had picked up along the way but sweet hickory wood that magically appeared without any effort from myself...ahem.

I've begun buying the books one by one excited for the boys to read them when they are older. When I started reading Farmer Boy , I noticed Almanzo mentioned going to Malone for the county fair and Lake Chateaugay to pick berries. And I thought...Malone? Chateaugay? I looked at the inside cover and saw they had lived in Northern New York and thought..MALONE! CHATEAUGAY! We've driven through those towns many times when we lived in Massena.

I was even more thrilled to realize that Almanzo's family farm (built in 1840) was still in Malone and was open to visitors. We were able to squeeze in some time to go and it was so much better than I had hoped.

Ian sitting below one of many apple trees.

Running along the old wooden fence surrounding the property.

Front view of the Wilder home. For those that have read the books...the window on the bottom-left opens to the parlor.

Side view of the house.
Another view of the house.

This tree is over 200 years old. Trying to imagine Almanzo and his brothers and sisters playing around the tree.

The dedication to the woman who gave this property to the Almanzo & Laura Ingalls Wilder Association.

Archaeological students spent a summer digging for the original foundations of the barn. When they found it, it was nearly identical to the drawings and dimensions that Almanzo, at age 75, had given Laura when she was compiling his childhood memories for the book.
The association found a man in Malone who specialized in 19th century carpentry. It took him 8 years of volunteer work to finish this barn.

This is the back area of the barn where the horses would have been allowed to walk around and where the gate to the pasture was.

Stone steps leading into the sheep barn.
Little Almanzo

An example of the peg-style carpentry used to build the barn. Amazing how much work this would have been!

This is a corn shucker. My dad used one as a kid and said that dried corn goes in and as you spin the wheel it pops the kernels off into the basket below. And voile...pig food.

This was used to grind up vegetables for animal feed.
Ian pumping water from the well. After digging for the well and testing the water, they
discovered that this was the original well that the Wilder family used!

This is where the water would run down into the troughs for the animals.

I know we'll go again when the boys are older and have read the books. If you ever find yourself near Malone, NY...I recommend stopping by.



cara said...

Farmer Boy was the only one of the series that I re-read. I loved it, especially the chapter when his parents go away leaving the kids alone. I think any kid would have loved to grow up on that farm!

Adam and Raechell said...

What a beautiful post. I love history and to know how much you enjoy the books, what an experience that must have been for you. I'm so glad you fit this into your trip to NY.

Jeremy & Andrea said...

It was definitely a blast to see the old barn interiors and equipment they used to make their food. Another interesting thing was how small their house for 5+ people was, even though the guide said they were considered "well off" - makes you wonder how much we really need and how much is waste.
- JC

Merredith and Bruce said...

I'm so impressed with your post!!! I never read the series, but did, of course, watched Little House on the Prairie... One of my favorite shows... I always thought it was fiction... (now who's embarrased)... Although not a history buff, I have always imagined myself, too, living in those days and thought that I would have enjoyed living in one of those little log cabins ... and could picture myself cooking over a fire burning in a huge fireplace set in the heart of my little log home kitchen/dining room/living room area.... I think it would be much fun for Bruce and I to take a trip up that way to visit the old Ingell Homestead... Thanks so much for the enlightenment!! Love, Merredith

Merredith and Bruce said...

OK... correction.... Not the Ingel Homestead, but rather the "Wilder Homestead" (I guess being embarrased once wasn't enough for me... smile) Merredith

Jeremy & Andrea said...

No need to be embarrassed! I didn't know they were written by Laura Ingalls Wilder either or that she was even a real person. I felt so silly when I realized it! LOL

That's why I was even more excited to realize that the Wilder farm was in Malone. Funny how we had driven through there so many times and never noticed the signs.


The Lehmans said...

How cool! I never realized that there was a homestead in NY! I'd love to check that out one day. I was also a huge Little House fan and read all the books. I remember visiting one of the homesteads in Wisconsin when I lived there as a little girl. Was it the Ingalls? Can't remember...anyway, great post!

Annagrace said...

The Little House on the Prairie books were a staple of my childhood--can't tell you how many times my sister and I reenacted the stories and scenes. We lived, at that time, in Kentucky and had a HUGE yard bordered by cow pasture and it was perfect for running around in, with our big bonnets and aprons my mom had made us. Bonnets that were also used (less successfully) on cats...

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this page. I adore all the little house books, and I guess Almanzo is one of my heroes. We are homesteading in England, and I am always trying to learn how things used to be done, before electricity.
I wish I could visit Malone, but it won't be for a few years yet.