On the Prairie

Settlers established the town of Independence in Montgomery County, Kansas, in 1869. The Verdigris River flows north to south through the county. The photo below shows a drugstore in Independence around 1870.

Independence, Kansas (c. 1870)

Photo Courtesy the Kansas Historical Society

At the time, this area was called the Osage Diminished Reserve and had been set aside for members of the Osage Nation. However, settlers like the Ingalls were moving in, assuming that the U.S. government would force the Osage to move once again.

In the first edition of Little House on the Prairie (1935), Laura wrote about the area: "There the wild animals wandered and fed as though they were in a pasture that stretched much farther than a man could see, and there were no people. Only the Indians lived there."

Seventeen years later, someone wrote a letter to Laura pointing out the implied suggestion that Indians were not people. Laura admitted that it was a "stupid blunder" and authorized a change in the next printing. The updated text read: ". . . there were no settlers. Only Indians lived there." (The next section of this study will look more at the Osage Nation.)

The Ingalls built a home about 12 miles southwest of Independence. Caroline Celestia ('Carrie') Ingalls was born there on August 3, 1870.

Here is a video we made summarizing the Ingalls' time in Kansas. The photographs show an earlier reproduction of the cabin that has since been replaced.

Around the end of 1870, the Ingalls decided to leave Kansas and return to the little house in the big woods of Wisconsin. Several factors influenced this decision: tension between the Osage and the settlers, uncertainty about what the federal government was going to do, and the fact that the person who bought their land in Wisconsin had stopped making payments.

Learn More

In Little House on the Prairie, Laura describes the process of digging a well by hand. This video depicts a modern attempt to do the same. Please Note: As mentioned at the beginning of the video, do not try this at home!

Place to Visit

In the 1970s, a group of volunteers built a cabin like the one Laura described in Little House on the Prairie. That cabin has since been rebuilt. The site also features a one-room school house, a one-room post office, and a farm house from around the time the Ingalls lived there. A section of prairie is left untilled so that visitors can see grasses and flowers as Laura would have seen them. You can also see the Verdigris River nearby.

During the summer, this site hosts a Prairie Days festival.

Little House on the Prairie Museum


Listen to songs that Laura mentions in Little House on the Prairie.

Listen to Songs



Here are some recipes inspired by Little House on the Prairie.

Sweet Potato and Root Vegetable Bake

Heart-Shaped Cakes

Peppermint Candy


Here is a puzzle of the interior of the reconstructed Ingalls' cabin in Kansas.

Little House on the Prairie Puzzle

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