Long before Mount Rushmore was completed in South Dakota's Black Hills, one family's decision to settle in the then-Dakota Territory would help later generations become very familiar with this part of the world.

And now that tiny South Dakota town is on a very exclusive list.

De Smet was voted America's fifth-best historical small town in a 10Best.com reader poll.

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  1. Wickford, Rhode Island
  2. Abilene, Kansas
  3. San Elizario, Texas
  4. Carlisle, Pennsylvania
  5. De Smet, South Dakota
  6. Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
  7. Taos, New Mexico
  8. Natchitoches, Louisiana
  9. Berkeley Springs, West Virginia
  10. Natchez, Mississippi

The Kingsbury County seat, in East Central South Dakota, is best known as the home of the Ingalls family, beginning in 1879, ten years before South Dakota was granted statehood.

That was the year that Charles and Caroline Ingalls settled their family in the area.

Years later, the couple's daughter, Laura, would write about her experiences in De Smet and other places where the family lived, in the Little House series of books, which were published between 1932 and 1943.


  • Little House in the Big Woods
  • Farmer Boy
  • Little House on the Prairie
  • On the Banks of Plum Creek
  • By the Shores of Silver Lake
  • The Long Winter
  • Little Town on the Prairie
  • These Happy Golden Years

The books were the inspiration Emmy Award-winning television series Little House on the Prairie, which ran for nine seasons, from 1974 to 1983.

Laura Wilder went to school in De Smet and later met her husband, Almanzo, there. The couple was wed in De Smet on August 25, 1885, and their daughter, Rose, was born there on December 5, 1886.

In 1894, the family moved from De Smet to Mansfield, Missouri, where Laura died in 1957 at the age of 90.

De Smet is home to the Ingalls Homestead and Museum and has hosted the Laura Ingalls Wilder Pagent since 1971.


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