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Familiar to Little House on the Prairie fans, Walnut Grove, Minnesota was a childhood home of Laura Ingalls Wilder.

The community was settled not long after the Civil War. The Homestead Act of 1862 encouraged people, including immigrants, to settle the Plains regions. During the late 1860s and 1870s, people began to settle along Plum Creek, in what was North Hero Township and Springdale Township, in Redwood County.

The soil was rich, and game was plentiful, but times were hard. Swarms of grasshoppers caused several early settlers to give up in 1870, almost destroying the new settlement. However, some of the early settlers remained and others came.

The town was platted in 1874, and incorporated as a village in 1879, separating from the townships in 1891. Walnut Grove was named for a large grove of trees in the area, which included several black walnut trees, which was at the northern limit for the geographic range of these trees.

Lafayette Bedal was the first postmaster. He had built a shanty near the Chicago and North Western Railway right-of-way, known as Walnut Station in 1872. His brother, Elias, moved his grain-buying business from Eyota, and filed the plat for the town in 1874, naming it Walnut Grove. Lafayette Bedal and Gustave Sunwall opened the first store in Walnut Grove. Elias Bedal was elected the first president of the village council, and Charles Ingalls, the father of Laura Ingalls Wilder, was elected justice of the peace. Other town officials were T. Quarntan, J. Leo, and C. Clementson, who were trustees. F. Hill was elected recorder, W.H. Owens, also known as William Oleson, served as the village's treasurer. and J. Russel became the village constable. The town's post office was known as Walnut Station from 1873 to 18881, when it became Walnut Grove.

The Ingalls family moved from Walnut Grove twice. Charles Ingalls originally bought a parcel of land in North Hero Township from a Mr. Hanson, a Norwegian immigrant, and built a sod dugout. His son, Charles Frederick, was born in Walnut Grove in 1875. Ingalls sold his land in 1876 and moved to Iowa. On the way to the family's new home, Charles Frederick died. Shortly after the birth of Grace in 1877, the family moved back to Walnut Grove, finding that the town had grown. The Winona and Saint Peter Railroad had laid a track west through the town, and the Congregational Church had been organized, with the Rev. Edwin Alden serving as pastor. Charles became a trustee of the church, and his children were educated at a school that had been built in 1875. Later, as readers of Laura Ingalls Wilder are aware, the family moved again, this time to DeSmet in the Dakota Territories.

Today, Walnut Grove is home to the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum, dedicated to the author of the Little House on the Prairie books, as Walnut Grove was the setting for the Plum Creek part of the book series. The television program is set in Walnut Grove, although the program was actually filmed in California.

Since 1920, the population of Walnut Grove has ranged from just under 600 to just under 900, its peak population being 890 in 1950. After declining to 599 in 2000, the city's population increased by almost 50% in the next decade, largely due to Hmong immigrants, which now make up approximately 35% of the population, and more than 40% of the students in the Westbrook-Walnut Grove School District.

The Walnut Grove area offers several recreational opportunities, with its nearby lakes, parks, bike trails, camping facilities, and golf courses.

The chief route through the city is US Highway 14, which connects Walnut Grove with Tracy to the west, and Revere to the east. County Highway 5 runs north and south through the city. Walnut Grove is surrounded by Springdale Township to the west, and North Hero Township to the east. Revere is just under six miles east, and Tracy is eight miles west of the city.

The focus of this category is on the city of Walnut Grove, Minnesota. Appropriate topics for this category include websites representing the municipality, as well as any local schools, churches, industries, businesses, organizations, or individuals. Other topics that related largely to the city may also be submitted to this category.

 

 

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