Burr Oak, Iowa

Video tour coming soon!


The Ingalls family left Walnut Grove in July 1876 and spent the rest of the summer with Uncle Peter and his family near South Troy, Minnesota. While there, Baby Freddy became very ill. He died on August 27, 1876, at the age of nine months.

The family then went south to Burr Oak, Iowa. The Steadmans, friends from Walnut Grove, had purchased a hotel there, and wanted Pa to help manage it. The Ingalls family lived in the Burr Oak House, also called the Masters Hotel after the former owner.

While living in the hotel, Ma worked with Mrs. Steadman, and Mary and Laura watched little Tommy Steadman when they were not in school. It was not a pleasant environment, so soon after Christmas, they moved into rooms above Kimball's Grocery two buildings from the hotel.

The Masters Hotel during the late 1800s.
Source: Tales of Travel, Life and Love, by George P. Bent, 1924.

The Burr Oak Schoolhouse that the Ingalls girls attended.
Source: Tales of Travel, Life and Love, by George P. Bent, 1924.
Pa did not like the work at the hotel, so he became a partner in a grist mill, grinding the wheat and corn the farmers brought in into flour. When spring came, Pa sold his interest in the mill and did odd jobs on farms in the area.

Since Pa was often away from home working, he rented a house from Mr. Bisby, a wealthy hotel boarder, just outside of town. The rooms over Kimball's Grocery were next door to the saloon, and he did not want Ma and the girls staying there alone all day.

On May 23, 1877, Grace Pearl Ingalls was born in the little rented brick house. Pa wanted to go west again, and Ma and the girls longed to be with their friends in Walnut Grove again. So in the summer of 1877, the Ingalls family returned to Minnesota.


The Masters Hotel in Burr Oak has been restored as a museum for visitors. The building is furnished with items belonging to those who lived in the hotel while the Ingalls were there, such as Laura's teacher Mr. Reed. Across the street is the Pfeiffer house, which was standing when the Ingalls family lived in Burr Oak.

Kimball's Grocery, the Congregational Church, the brick school Laura and Mary attended, and the little brick house where Grace was born are no longer standing, but Silver Creek still runs through the town as it did when Laura lived there. Visitors may wish to see the cemetery on the hill, where Laura and her friend Alice Ward often walked to escape from the busy town.

Laura Ingalls Wilder Park and Museum
3603 236th Avenue
Burr Oak, Iowa 52101
(563) 735-5916

Laura Ingalls Wilder, Frontier Girl

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Rebecca Brammer & Phil Greetham
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