03-29-2004, 05:04 AM
If you want to learn about the real Laura Ingalls Wilder go to this website.
L aura Elizabeth Ingalls was born February 7, 1867, in a little log house in the Big Woods of Wisconsin. Laura's childhood was spent traveling west by covered wagon, to Indian Territory in Kansas, to Grasshopper Country in Minnesota, and then to Dakota Territory, where she met and married Almanzo Wilder.
Laura's daughter Rose grew up listening to her mother's stories of those pioneer days. She urged her mother to write them down so that other children could enjoy them, as well. So in the 1930s and 40s, Laura recorded her memories of those days of long ago in a children's series known as the "Little House"® books.
Although Laura died on February 10, 1957, at her home in the Ozarks of Missouri, she and her family will live forever in the hearts of her readers.
Laura's different places she lived in her life.
Pepin, Wisconsin (site of Little House in the Big Woods)
Independence, Kansas (site of Little House on the Prairie)
Walnut Grove, Minnesota (site of On the Banks of Plum Creek)
Burr Oak, Iowa (birthplace of Laura's sister Grace)
De Smet, South Dakota (site of the remaining 5 Laura books)
Spring Valley, Minnesota (home of Almanzo, Laura, and Rose - 1890)
Westville, Florida (home of Almanzo, Laura, and Rose - 1891)
Mansfield, Missouri (final home of Laura and Almanzo -1894 until their deaths)
Malone, New York (site of Farmer Boy)
Jack the Brindle Bulldog
Soldat du Chene
the Ingalls family encounters a French-speaking Osage chief, Soldat du Chene. The Indian tribes who lived in the territory the Ingalls and other white settlers were occupying had decided to make war on the settlers. Soldat du Chene and his tribe came to plead with the other tribes not to kill the white people. He told the tribes that if they began to massacre the settlers, he and his strong Osage would fight them. This persuaded the other tribes to go away peacefully. Soldat du Chene thus saved the Ingalls family's lives.
George A. Tann is mentioned in Little House on the Prairie as a black doctor on the Osage Diminished Reserve who saved the lives of the Ingalls family when they all came down with fever 'n' ague (malaria) on the prairie.
George Tann was born on November 27, 1835 to Bennet and Mary Tann. George married Catherine Thompson, and had a son, William, in 1859. After deserting them in Pennsylvania, George came to Kansas and claimed to be single.
George married Eliza Harris in Kansas just after the time period of Little House on the Prairie. They had two children, Naomi in 1882 and Stella in 1886. He and Eliza later separated, but he kept his responsibilities
Mr. Edwards seems to be the most well-loved of all the minor characters in Laura's books. The Ingalls family first met Mr. Edwards in Indian Territory, where he helped Pa build the family's cabin and brought the girls Christmas presents from Independence through a dreadful storm.
Mr. Edwards does not appear again in the "Little House" books until By the Shores of Silver Lake, when he enables Pa to file on the last homestead claim in the De Smet area by holding back some other men who desired the property. Mr. Edwards later comes to visit the family in De Smet before heading to Oregon. After all the kind things he has done for the family over the years, Mr. Edwards says his goodbyes and secretly slips a $20 bill into Mary's lap.
No one is sure who Mr. Edwards really is, or if that is even his name. He may be a composite of several people Laura and her family knew. The identity of Mr. Edwards is a mystery that likely will never be solved.
Reverend Edwin H. Alden, born in Windsor, Vermont, on January 14, 1836, was the minister of the Congregational Church in Walnut Grove in On the Banks of Plum Creek. This is the first time Laura writes of going to church. Rev. Alden was a home missionary -- he had a church in "the East", but was involved in planting new churches, such as the one in Walnut Grove, on the western frontier.
The Ingalls family formed a close friendship with Rev. Alden during their years in Walnut Grove, and were pleasantly surprised when he showed up on their doorstep in Dakota Territory, as recorded in By the Shores of Silver Lake.
Rev. Alden held the first church service in De Smet in the Ingalls home (the Surveyors House) in February 1880, but then went north and became an Indian agent in what would later become North Dakota. He married twice, and had two children. He died May 6, 1911, in Chester, Vermont.
Nellie Oleson is Laura's rival, and is a character in On the Banks of Plum Creek, Little Town on the Prairie, and These Happy Golden Years. The character of Nellie Oleson is actually three different girls combined into one.
Nellie Owens was a year younger than Laura, and had a younger brother named Willie, just as the character of Nellie did in the books. Her parents, William and Margaret Owens, did run a local mercantile in Walnut Grove. Nellie is the main basis for Nellie Oleson in On the Banks of Plum Creek.
Genevieve Masters was the spoiled daughter of Laura's teacher in Walnut Grove. Genny wore pretty clothes, and had beautiful golden ringlets, just as "Nellie Oleson" did. Nellie Owens and Genny Masters were in a constant battle to rule the playground, and all the younger girls were forced to take sides. Laura, however, refused and soon became the leader of them all.
Genny's family moved to De Smet not long after the Ingalls family, but the Owens family did not. Therefore, the Nellie of Little Town on the Prairie is mainly Genny Masters.
The third girl making up the character of Nellie Oleson was Stella Gilbert, a poor girl who lived on a claim near De Smet. Though poor, she was beautiful, and she had her eye on Almanzo. She did manage to beguile him into taking her on several buggy rides with him, told of in These Happy Golden Years, but when Almanzo was made aware of her shallowness, the rides stopped.
Neta Seal pulling the hair of Alison Arngrim (television's
"Nellie") to pay her back for being mean to Laura Not much is known about what happened to Genny and Stella in later life; Laura herself was uncertain. Nellie Owens moved to California, and then on to Oregon, where she married Henry Kirry and had three children, Zola, Lloyd, and Leslie. Her brother Willie went blind from a firecracker explosion, attended a school for the blind, married, and also had three children. Laura wrote to some fans that Nellie moved to Louisiana, and to others that she returned to New York. It is possible that she was referring to Genny Masters and Stella Gilbert in these letters.
Mary Power was one of Laura's closest friends during her teenage years in De Smet, South Dakota. Although she is courted by Cap Garland in Laura's books, she has a new beau towars the end of These Happy Golden Years, the banker Ed Sanford. Mary and Ed married and lived in De Smet for many years, across the street from Ma and Pa. They had no children. In the early 1900s, Mary and Ed moved to Bellingham, Washington. Laura likely never heard from her again.
Cap Garland, described in the "Little House" books as a blue-eyed blonde-haired lad with a flashing grin, is a well-loved character from The Long Winter, Little Town on the Prairie, and These Happy Golden Years.
Oscar Edmund Garland, known as Cap, was born on December 27, 1864, in Avoca, Wisconsin, to Walter Bell Garland and Margaret Frances Pettit. He had two older sisters, Sarah Lovenia Garland, born in 1856, known as "Vena"; and Florence Adelia Garland, born May 14, 1862. In addition to these three children, the Garlands lost two children at a young age: a son, Walter, born May 29, 1855, who died July 23 of the same year, and a daughter Josephine, born August 18, 1859, who died April 12, 1863.
Cap Garland; thanks to Sophie for photo.
Cap's father was born in Ireland in 1832, and died when he was only 42 years old, on September 29, 1874. The family left their home in Avoca, Wisconsin, not long afterward, and the widow and her three children settled along Lake Henry in Dakota Territory during the winter of 1879-80.
During the late summer/early fall of 1880, the family moved to the town of De Smet. Mrs. Garland opened a boarding house on the corner of Joliet Avenue and Second Street, behind Charles Ingalls' store building where the Ingalls family stayed during the winter of 1880-81. Florence earned a position teaching the school in town.
It was November 1880 when Laura and Carrie walked to the school in De Smet for the first time, and Cap playfully threw Laura the ball, which she caught, to the surprise of all the boys in the schoolyard. Cap must have captured Laura's attention right from the start and he quickly became a young hero in her eyes, as he first set off on his own during the blizzard to fetch the men in town when he saw the other schoolchildren were heading toward the open prairie, and then set off with Almanzo Wilder on a daring trip to fetch wheat for the starving town. Cap must have lived by his words to Almanzo a couple of years later, when he was trying to decide whether or not to go after Laura at the Bouchie (Brewster) School in severe weather: "God hates a coward." Cap Garland was no coward.
When school started up again the fall of 1881, Laura was pleased to see Cap Garland again amongst the big boys present. Soon afterward, revival meetings were held at the church -- Laura wasn't much interested in the sermon, however; she wrote many years later in her unpublished autobiography, "To be perfectly truthful I was noticing Cap."
It wasn't Cap who tapped on her arm and asked to see her home, however; it was "the youngest Wilder boy", Almanzo. Even so, Laura's interest was still in Cap, and she wrote that after teaching at the Bouchie School, she had hoped to leave Almanzo and go with Cap. When Cap invited Laura to go sleigh-riding, however, she realized she really wanted to stay with Almanzo, after all. Cap Garland began courting Laura's friend Mary Power, and the two young couples, Laura and Almanzo, and Cap and Mary, often went sleigh-riding together.
In 1882, Mrs. Garland filed on land about 7 miles east of the Ingalls' claim. Perhaps Cap worked the land while his mother and sisters ran the boarding house in town. Cap did live in town later, for when Almanzo boarded at the Garlands' during the summer of 1884, he shared a room with Cap.
Cap and his team of horses worked out on other farms for several years. On November 2, 1891, while working with the threshing crew at August Larson's homestead, a boiler exploded, killing Cap at the young age of 26.
Florence Garland, also mentioned in the "Little House" books, married Charles Lansing Dawley in 1887, and named their first son Lansing Edmund, born March 11, 1893, in memory of her brother. Florence and Charles had one more son, Walter Averill, on January 9, 1900. Mrs. Garland died in De Smet in 1913. Charles and Florence remained in De Smet until their deaths in 1933 and 1935 respectively.
Rev. Edward Brown
Reverend Edward Brown organized the First Congregational Church of De Smet on June 20, 1880, after falsely informing the townspeople that he had been sent by Rev. Alden for that purpose. The Ingalls family disliked Rev. Brown, but as Laura said, they could not leave the church, and so they had to endure his crude, loud style of preaching.
Edward Brown was born in Colebrook, Connecticut, on November 1, 1814. He married Eliza Jane Johnson in 1844 and had 4 children, none of whom survived. Following Eliza's death in 1864, Rev. Brown married Laura Jane Goodale on May 1, 1866. The couple adopted a daughter, Ida Wright, who became one of Laura's dearest friends. Rev. Brown officiated at Laura's and Almanzo's wedding in 1885.
Laura Brown died in 1889, and Edward in 1895. They are buried in the De Smet cemetery. Ida married Elmer McConnell, but further information on what became of the couple is not known.
Robert and Ellie Boast
Robert and Ellie Boast were close friends of the Ingalls family in De Smet, South Dakota. Pa met Mr. Boast in the fall of 1879, while working on the railroad. When Mr. Boast heard of the Ingalls' plans to spend the winter in the Surveyors House, he decided to go back to Iowa for his wife Ellie and bring her out to stay in a shanty nearby.
Robert Boast was born in Richmond, Quebec, in 1848, but moved to Iowa in 1867. In 1869, he married Ella Peck, and the couple farmed in Iowa until Robert began working for the railroad, and decided to file on a homestead in the Dakotas.
Mrs. Boast later suffered from rheumatism, and by the 1890s, she was no longer able to walk. Although the couple had no children of their own, Mrs. Boast befriended all the youngsters of De Smet, often holding parties at her home for them. Ella Boast died in 1918, and Robert died in 1921. They are buried at the De Smet cemetery.
Neta Tripp Seal was the closest friend of Laura Ingalls Wilder. She and her husband Silas operated a service station during the 1920s and 30s, and Silas' service greatly impressed Almanzo. When Laura was asked to speak at a Book Fair in Detroit, Michigan, Almanzo asked Silas to do the driving. Neta was ill the day of the trip, and was unable to attend, but the following year, the Wilders again asked the younger couple to drive for them, this time on a 3 week trip to California and other parts of the country.
Neta Seal pulling Alison Arngrim's hair
Neta and her husband Silas took several cross-country trips with Laura and Almanzo over the years, as the couples became very close. In the later years of Laura's life, Neta was an almost constant companion, as she spent many hours caring for her older friend.
In the years after Laura's death, Neta found that her friendship with the author resulted in many visitors seeking her out, wanting to know more about the woman who wrote the Little House books. She spent the last years of her life meeting and talking with people from all over the world about Laura, whom she always respectfully called "Mrs. Wilder". On December 12, 1996, Wilder fans lost their last personal link to Laura Ingalls Wilder when Neta Seal passed away. Below is her obituary from the Mansfield Mirror. Fans can still stay at Friendship House, Neta's boarding house which is now a bed and breakfast.
Neta V. Seal, daughter of George Washington and Laura Newton Tripp, was born December 29, 1904, in Wright County, Missouri. She departed this life Thursday, December 12, 1996, in St. John's Regional Health Center, in Springfield, Missouri, at the age of ninety-one years, eleven months, and thirteen days.
She was united in marriage to Silas Seal, who preceded her in death on October 21, 1960. She was also preceded in death by her parents; a brother, Claude Tripp; and three sisters, Eulalia Tarbutton, Lela Dennis, and Vivian Greer.
Neta is survived by a sister, Reba Brazeal, and her husband Ray, of Mansfield, Missouri; several nieces and nephews; a special friend, Esther Jones; as well as a host of other relatives and friends.
She lived most of her life in the Mansfield area, and for many years owned and operated a boarding house. Throughout the years, she was also a devoted homemaker to her husband. Neta had made her profession of faith in Christ and was a longtime member of the First Baptist Church of Mansfield.
She was the last living, personal friend of Laura Ingalls Wilder residing in the Mansfield area. In her spare time she enjoyed quilting and taking care of her home.
Neta will be fondly remembered as a loving sister and aunt, and as a caring neighbor and friend. She will be greatly missed by all those who knew and loved her.
Charles Phillip Ingalls, known in Laura's books as "Pa", was born January 10, 1836, in Cuba, New York, to Landsford and Laura Ingalls (the Grandpa and Grandma of Little House in the Big Woods). He married Caroline Quiner on February 1, 1860, and had five children.
Laura portrayed Pa as a man who wanted only the best for his family, but things never turned out the way he hoped. The family moved many times during Laura's childhood due to Pa's "itching foot" which always wanted to go west. Pa often referred to himself as a carpenter, though at various times he was a hunter, trapper, farmer, hotel manager, butcher, Justice of the Peace, and storekeeper as well.
Pa died in De Smet, South Dakota, on June 8, 1902, but the charm of his stories and the music of his fiddle lives on in Laura's books and in the hearts of those who love them.
Today, Pa's fiddle is on display in Mansfield, Missouri.
Caroline Quiner Ingalls
Caroline Lake Quiner was born on December 12, 1839, to Henry and Charlotte Quiner, in Brookfield, Wisconsin. Her father died when she was five years old, and her mother married Frederick Holbrook five years later. At the age of 16, Ma began teaching school. On February 1, 1860, she married Charles Ingalls; they had five children.
Laura's "Ma" was a gentle, but hard-working, woman who struggled to raise her four daughters as ladies in the wild west. Her many skills included hat-making, gardening, cooking, sewing, and being able to make do with what she had.
Ma died in De Smet, South Dakota, on April 20, 1924. Today, some of Ma's belongings mentioned in Laura's books, such as her strawberry pin and sewing machine, are on display at Mansfield, Missouri.
HarperCollins Publishers is releasing a spinoff series based on Ma's childhood. The series, written by Maria D. Wilkes, presently consists of the following titles: Little House in Brookfield, Little Town at the Crossroads, and Little Clearing in the Woods.
Mary Amelia Ingalls
Mary Amelia Ingalls was born on January 10, 1865, near Pepin, Wisconsin, the first child of Charles and Caroline Ingalls. Mary was only two years older than Laura, and was a major character in the books.
Laura described Mary as being very sweet and good as a child, with beautiful golden hair that Laura greatly coveted. At the age of 14, however, Mary became very ill and had a stroke, resulting in blindness. From that day on, Laura was "eyes for Mary", describing everything she saw for her blind sister.
From 1881-1889, Mary attended the Iowa School for the Blind at Vinton, Iowa, because no education for the blind was available in Dakota Territory. She then returned home to De Smet, South Dakota, where she lived with Pa and Ma. She never married. After Ma's death in 1924, Mary lived with Grace and her husband until her death on October 17, 1928, at Carrie's home in Keystone, South Dakota.
Mary's Braille Bible, slate, and other books, beadwork she made following her blindness, her gloves, and a nine-patch quilt she made as a child are all on display at Rocky Ridge in Mansfield, Missouri. Other items belonging to Mary are housed in the Ingalls home at De Smet, South Dakota.
Caroline Celestia Ingalls
Caroline Celestia Ingalls (Carrie) was born on August 3, 1870, in Montgomery County, Kansas. Although she was born during the events of Little House on the Prairie, this is not made known in the books. The reason for this is that Laura first wrote Little House in the Big Woods with no intention of writing an entire series of books. However, due to the success of this book and Farmer Boy, Laura was persuaded to continue the story of the Ingalls as they journeyed west. Laura did not wish to exclude the family's stay in Kansas, and as Baby Carrie had already been born when the events in Little House in the Big Woods occurred, Laura just included her in the trip to Kansas, as well.
In the early books, Carrie is the baby of the family and is not included in Laura's and Mary's adventures. However, after Mary's blindness and the family's move to the Dakotas, the books focus more on the interaction between Laura and Carrie.
As a young adult, Carrie became a typesetter for the De Smet News, and later other newspapers throughout the state. She spent her youth traveling the country, visiting family in Wisconsin and Minnesota, and going to Laura's home in Mansfield, Missouri. In 1905, she moved to Boulder, Colorado, hoping that the change in climate would improve her health. She lived there one year and in Wyoming one year before returning to De Smet.
Carrie was an independent young woman, and though single, she filed on a homestead claim in Top Bar, South Dakota. She also worked for The Keystone Recorder and The Hill City Star while living in the Black Hills. Here, Carrie met mine owner David N. Swanzey, a widower with two young children.
Carrie and Dave were married on August 1, 1912. Although Carrie and Dave never had any children together, Carrie raised Dave's children, Mary (age 8 at the time of the marriage) and Harold (age 6) as her own. The family lived in Keystone, the site of Mount Rushmore. When Gutzon Borglum arrived in the area looking for a good site for the carving, Dave was one of the group of men who recommended the mountain and led the sculptor to it. Carrie's stepson Harold helped with the carving.
Carrie was enthusiastic about Laura's books, and helped her sister by sharing her memories of their growing-up years with her.
In 1936, Carrie's stepson Harold was killed in an automobile accident, and in April, 1938, Carrie lost her husband, as well. Mary Swanzey married Monroe Harris and had 15 children. Carrie died of a sudden illness on June 2, 1946, leaving Laura as the last living member of the Ingalls family.
Charles Frederic Ingalls
Charles Frederic Ingalls was the fourth child of Charles and Caroline Ingalls. The family's only son was born November 1, 1875, while the family was living in Walnut Grove. When the Ingalls family left for Burr Oak in July 1876, they visited Uncle Peter and Aunt Eliza near South Troy, Minnesota, on the way. There, baby Freddy became very sick, and died on August 27. Pa's biggest regret was that he had never played his fiddle for his son, and Ma lamented the baby's death decades later, stating sadly that everything would have been different if only Freddy had lived. Life on a farm was hard for families without sons to help with the work, and surely the family's financial strains would have been lessened had Freddy grown into manhood.
Grace Pearl Ingalls
Grace Pearl Ingalls was born on May 23, 1877, in Burr Oak, Iowa. Being the youngest member of the Ingalls family, she did not play much of a role in Laura's books. She was only eight years old when Laura married and left home.
Grace grew up in De Smet, and followed in her sister's footsteps by becoming a teacher. While teaching in Manchester, South Dakota, just seven miles west of De Smet, Grace met Nathan William Dow.
Grace and Nate were married in the parlor at the Ingalls home in De Smet on October 16, 1901. They lived in Manchester until Ma's death, and then returned to De Smet to care for Mary. They never had any children.
Grace died on November 10, 1941, followed by Nate in 1943.
Almanzo James Wilder
Almanzo James Wilder was born February 13, 1857, near Malone, New York. He was the fifth child of James and Angeline Wilder. Farmer Boy is the story of Almanzo's childhood on the Malone farm.
The Wilder family lived near Malone during Almanzo's growing-up years, and were quite prosperous. However, drought caused crops to suffer several years in a row and the family decided it was time to seek better farmland. In 1875, the family left Malone and moved to Spring Valley, Minnesota.
A few years later, Almanzo filed on a homestead claim in Marshall, Minnesota. He and his older brother Royal went further west in 1879 and homesteaded in the Dakotas, near the present town of De Smet, South Dakota. Here, Almanzo and Laura met.
Although Almanzo was ten years older than Laura, he seemed to take a special interest in her from the start. When she was nearly sixteen and began teaching school twelve miles away, he went after her with his beautiful Morgan horses, Prince and Lady, each Friday so she could come home for the weekends. He took her back to school each Sunday. Laura, in the innocence of youth, thought he was only doing it as a favor to Pa. After the teaching job was over, Almanzo asked her to go sleigh-riding, and then buggy-riding when spring came. Laura soon came to realize that Almanzo's true interest was in her. The two courted for two and a half years.
Almanzo and Laura were married on August 25, 1885, in De Smet. Their early years of marriage are recorded in The First Four Years. Their first child, Rose, was born on December 5, 1886, and an unnamed baby boy was born in August 1889, but died soon afterward of an unknown cause. Other hardships such as crop failures, debts, diphtheria, and loss of their home due to fire forced the young couple to leave De Smet in search of a better life. After spending time with Almanzo's family at Spring Valley, Minnesota and with Laura's cousin at Westville, Florida, they returned to De Smet briefly. In 1894, Laura and Almanzo finally settled in Mansfield, Missouri.
"Manly", as Laura always called him, was known in Mansfield as a quiet, gentle, hardworking man. He was a "jack-of-all-trades" and loved to work in his toolshed. Some items he made, such as furniture and his cane collection, can be seen today in Mansfield. Almanzo died on October 23, 1949, at Rocky Ridge farm at the age of 92.
Rose Wilder Lane
Rose Wilder was born December 5, 1886, in De Smet, Dakota Territory, the first child of Almanzo and Laura Ingalls Wilder. Laura tells of Rose's birth and early childhood in The First Four Years.
When Rose was not yet two years old, Laura and Almanzo became very ill with diptheria. To protect Rose from contracting this dreaded disease, she was sent to live with Laura's Pa and Ma for several months.
Rose became a big sister in August 1889, but sadly, her baby brother died before he could even be given a name. Just days afterward, little Rose was "helping" Laura in the kitchen, when a fire started, destroying the Wilders' home. These disasters along with crop failures drove the Wilders from the Dakotas.
The Wilders sought refuge at the home of Almanzo's parents in Spring Valley, Minnesota, so Rose was able to spend time with her other grandparents. In 1891, the Wilders went south to Westville, Florida, to live with Laura's cousin Peter. Rose wrote a fictional short story entitled "Innocence" in 1922, based on her family's stay in Westville.
The Wilders were not happy in Florida, so in 1892, they returned to De Smet and lived in a rented house in town. Laura and Almanzo worked and Rose's Grandma Ingalls took care of her during the day. Rose began school in De Smet, and learned to read and write very quickly.
In 1894, Rose embarked on her final childhood journey with her parents, and their friends, the Cooleys. The two families traveled in a horse- drawn hack to the Ozarks in Missouri. Laura's diary of this trip was later edited by Rose and published as On the Way Home.
Just like Laura at Plum Creek, Rose was the "country girl" at school in Mansfield, a fact which she resented. She was very intelligent, and thought school was boring because the work was far too easy for her. Because of this, Laura consented to let Rose study on her own at home much of the time.
In 1903, Laura and Almanzo allowed Rose to go to Crowley, Louisiana, to live with her aunt, Eliza Jane, to complete high school. The Mansfield school only went through the tenth grade.
Rose was very independent, and after her graduation in 1904, she learned telegraphy and got a job with Western Union in Kansas City, and three years later, in Mount Vernon, Indiana.
In 1908, Rose moved to San Francisco, and lived with a reporter for the San Francisco Bulletin, Bessie Beatty. Living in the same apartment building was Claire Gillette Lane, who became Rose's husband on March 24, 1909. Rose and Gillette moved to Kansas City, and Rose worked for the Kansas City Post. In the summer of 1910, Rose gave birth to a baby boy, who died shortly afterward. After moving several times, Rose and Gillette returned to San Francisco, where they became involved in selling real estate. Rose's career flourished, and slowly, she and Gillette found less and less in common with each other. When World War I decreased land sales, Rose returned to writing.
In 1915, Rose began writing serial stories and columns for the San Francisco Bulletin. During the next three decades, she would write numerous short stories and articles for major magazines, including Sunset, The Ladies Home Journal, Harper's Monthly, Asia, Country Gentleman, and The Saturday Evening Post. In 1917, Rose published her first book, Henry Ford's Own Story. Rose was gaining more and more independence, and in 1918, she and Gillette Lane were divorced. She wrote Diverging Roads, a fictional novel based on her separation and eventual divorce with Gillette.
Rose then moved to Greenwich Village, New York, and became a ghost writer for Frederick O'Brien's White Shadows on the South Seas. She also wrote The Making of Herbert Hoover under her own name.
After World War I, Rose became a reporter for the American Red Cross, and was assigned to write about the conditions in war-torn countries. During this time, Rose met two women who would become her closest friends, Dorothy Thompson and Helen "Troub" Boylston, who wrote the "Sue Barton" nurse series for girls.
Rose's job took her throughout Europe, but of all the countries she visited, Albania quickly became her favorite. She wrote The Peaks of Shala about Albanian life, and informally adopted Albanian boy Rexh Meta after he saved her life. Many years later, she provided money for Rexh to come to America and get a college education.
Rose returned at last to Rocky Ridge Farm in 1924. Her writing turned back to the Ozarks at this time, as well, and she wrote two of her most enjoyable novels, Cindy and Hill Billy. However, Rose was not content to stay in Missouri. She and Helen Boylston returned to Albania; their journal of the trip was published as Travels With Zenobia. The unstable situation in Albania forced Rose back to Missouri in 1928. She and Helen moved into Rocky Ridge Farmhouse, and Rose had a modern rock house built for her parents on another part of the farm. Rose felt financially stable at last, and she freely spent money on the new home for her parents, as well as making major updates on the farmhouse. She lost most of her money in the stock market crash of 1929, however, and returned to her pen to earn a living once again.
While living at Rocky Ridge, Rose encouraged her mother to try to earn a bit of extra money writing, as well. Laura recorded the many stories she had told Rose as a child into an autobiographical manuscript, which she called "Pioneer Girl". Rose sought a publisher for her mother's work unsuccessfully. However, after reworking a part of the manuscript into a children's book, a publisher was found, and Little House in the Big Woods came into being.
While her mother continued working on her "Little House" series, Rose used her mother's stories for her own works of fiction, as well. She wrote Let the Hurricane Roar in 1933 and Free Land in 1938. She also wrote about her childhood years in Mansfield in Old Home Town. In 1938, Rose moved to New York, and Laura and Almanzo returned to their farmhouse. Rose then moved to Danbury, Connecticut, where she became heavily involved in politics, as she wrote about in The Discovery of Freedom. In 1943, Rose met Roger Lea MacBride, teenage son of one of her editors. Roger admired Rose, and she taught the young boy much about her political beliefs over the years. Roger called Rose "Grandma" and later became her attorney and heir.
In 1957, Laura Ingalls Wilder died. Rose worked with Mansfield resident Irene Lichty to preserve Rocky Ridge as a memorial to her mother. She published her mother's diary as On the Way Home , the last book she would ever help her mother write.
In 1965, Rose went to VietNam as a war correspondent. She planned yet another trip to Europe for November 1968, but it was a trip she was never to take. Rose died on October 30, 1968. She was buried in Mansfield, Missouri.
HarperCollins Publishers has released a spin-off series to the "Little House" books based on Rose's childhood in Missouri. Seven books have been published so far: Little House on Rocky Ridge, Little Farm in the Ozarks, In the Land of the Big Red Apple, On the Other Side of the Hill, Little Town in the Ozarks, New Dawn on Rocky Ridge, and On the Banks of the Bayou.
Read Rose's autobiographical sketch
Landsford and Laura Ingalls
Landsford and Laura Ingalls are the paternal grandparents of Laura Ingalls Wilder. They are characters in Laura's first book Little House in the Big Woods and are mentioned in several others.
Landsford Whiting Ingalls was born in 1812 in Canada. Laura Colby was born in 1810 in Vermont. Landsford and Laura were married in 1832, and had ten children, Peter, a stillborn son, Charles, Lydia, Polly, Landsford "James", Laura Ladocia (Docia), Hiram, George, and Ruby.
Grandma and Grandpa lived about 13 miles north of Laura's family in the Big Woods. Laura wrote of attending a sugaring-off dance at their home.
After leaving the Big Woods in 1874, Laura probably never saw her grandparents again. Grandma died in 1883, and Grandpa in 1896.
Henry and Charlotte Quiner
Henry Newton Quiner, born in 1807, married Charlotte Tucker, born May 25, 1809, on April 2, 1831. They had seven children: Martha (died in childhood), Joseph, Henry, Martha, Caroline, Eliza, and Thomas. Henry and Charlotte were Laura's maternal grandparents.
Henry was a farmer, but also traded with the nearby Wisconsin Indians. In the fall of 1844, he sailed off on Lake Michigan on a trading trip. A storm arose and sunk the schooner, and Charlotte Quiner was left a widow.
In 1849, Charlotte remarried, to a farmer named Frederick Holbrook. The couple's only child Charlotte was the Aunt Lotty of the Big Woods. When asked by Mary and Laura which color of hair she preferred, Aunt Lotty replied wisely that she liked both kinds best. Lotty later married Henry Moore and had one son.
Charlotte died in 1884 in Wisconsin, just before her granddaughter Laura married Almanzo Wilder many miles away. It is unlikely Laura ever saw her grandparents again after leaving the Big Woods at age 7.
Henry and Polly Quiner
Henry Odin Quiner, older brother of Caroline Quiner Ingalls, was born to Henry and Charlotte Quiner on December 7, 1835, in Ohio.
Polly Melona Ingalls, younger sister of Charles Ingalls, was born to Landsford and Laura Ingalls in 1840 in Cuba, New York.
In February, 1859, Henry and Polly became the third pair of Quiners and Ingalls to marry. They had six children: Louisa, Charles, Albert, Lottie, Ruby, and Lillian.
Uncle Henry and his family left Pepin, Wisconsin, with Laura's family in 1868, and the two families moved to Chariton County, Missouri. When Laura's family went on to Kansas in 1869, Henry and Polly returned to the Big Woods.
Uncle Henry and Aunt Polly lived near the Ingalls cabin in Little House in the Big Woods, and Pa and Uncle Henry shared many tasks, such as the butchering and threshing. Henry's son Charley was the boy who "cried wolf" while his father and uncle were working together in the fields and as a consequence, was stung by hundreds of yellow jackets.
The Quiners stayed behind when Charles and Peter left Pepin for Minnesota in 1874. However, in By the Shores of Silver Lake, the two families were reunited briefly, and then the Quiners moved on further west.
Peter and Eliza Ingalls
Peter Riley Ingalls, the older brother of Charles Ingalls, was born to Landsford and Laura Ingalls in 1833 in Cuba, New York.
Eliza Ann Quiner, the younger sister of Caroline Quiner Ingalls, was born to Henry and Charlotte Quiner on April 21, 1842, in Brookfield, Wisconsin.
The Ingalls and Quiner families moved several times over the next few years, and eventually both ended up in Jefferson County, Wisconsin. Peter and Eliza were married in Concord, Wisconsin, on June 5, 1861. They had six children, who were Laura's double cousins: Alice (1862), Ella (1865), Peter (1866), Lansford (1870), Edith (1872), and Edmond Llewellyn (1880).
Uncle Peter and Aunt Eliza came to the Ingalls cabin for Christmas in Little House in the Big Woods. Laura wrote of playing with Alice, Ella, and Peter, and also mentioned the baby, Dolly Varden. Dolly Varden was the family's nickname for Edith because she had a dress made of a material by this name.
Uncle Peter and his family left Pepin with Laura's family in 1874. The two families traveled together until reaching Zumbro Falls, Minnesota, where Peter's family settled. Laura's family continued on to Walnut Grove, Minnesota.
Laura never wrote of seeing Uncle Peter and Aunt Eliza again, but Cousin Alice and her husband came for a visit in These Happy Golden Years and Cousin Peter lived in De Smet, South Dakota with Laura and Almanzo during The First Four Years.
Laura did not record this in her books, but her family spent the summer of 1876 at Uncle Peter's farm in eastern Minnesota, before traveling on to Burr Oak, Iowa. Baby Freddy died here, and is likely buried on Uncle Peter's farm or in a nearby cemetery. Also not mentioned in the books, Ella and her husband and baby Earl also visited De Smet briefly, as recorded in the diary of Laura's sister Grace.
Thomas Lewis Quiner
Thomas Lewis Quiner, Ma's younger brother, was born on November 23, 1844. "Uncle Tom" makes his appearance in the "Little House" books in These Happy Golden Years, when he visits the Ingalls family in De Smet.
Laura's Uncle Tom lived in the Big Woods of Wisconsin when Laura was a little girl, but he is not mentioned in Little House in the Big Woods. Tom left the Big Woods and joined the Garrison party to search for gold in the Black Hills of South Dakota.
Tom later married Lillian Graham Hill, and had six children: Helen, Alice, Donald, Dugold, Lillian, and John. The Quiner family lived for some time in De Smet, South Dakota, near the Ingalls home in town.
Uncle Tom died in a logging accident along the Columbia River on February 23, 1903, soon after the birth of his youngest son John.
Docia Waldvogel Forbes
Laura Ladocia Ingalls was born to Landsford and Laura Ingalls in Pepin, Wisconsin. She was Aunt Docia of Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House in the Big Woods and By the Shores of Silver Lake.
Docia Ingalls married August Waldvogel and had two children, Lena in 1866 and August Eugene ("Jean") in 1870. Just before Jean's birth, August was imprisoned for shooting a man who was breaking into their home. Due to this disgrace, Docia divorced August, and moved into her parents' home with her two young children. This is why she is mentioned along with Aunt Ruby as living at Grandpa's house during the "Dance at Grandpa's" in Little House in the Big Woods.
Laura Ladocia Ingalls
Docia later married Hiram Forbes, who worked as a contractor for the Chicago and North Western Railway. In By the Shores of Silver Lake, Docia came to Walnut Grove to offer Pa a job as timekeeper and storekeeper for the railroad. The first half of By the Shores of Silver Lake tells of the fun Laura and her cousin Lena had on the Dakota prairies singing, going after the wash, and riding black ponies.
The Ingalls family decided to stay in the Dakotas, but Uncle Hi and Aunt Docia headed to Nebraska. Little is known of what happened to them after this, as the two families did not keep in touch; Hi and Docia had seven daughters, and Hi died in 1906, Docia in 1918. In later years, Lena recognized herself when reading By the Shores of Silver Lake and contacted Laura. Lena died in 1943.
James and Angeline Wilder
James Mason Wilder, known as "Father" in the second "Little House" book Farmer Boy, was born on January 26, 1813, to Abel and Hannah Wilder near Milton, Vermont. Four years later, the family moved two miles from Malone, New York, where James met and married Angeline Albina Day of nearby Chateaugay on August 6, 1843. Angeline, born in 1821, was the daughter of Justin and Diadema Day.
James and Angeline Wilder had six children, four of whom play a role in one or more of the "Little House" books. Their first child, Laura Ann, was born on June 15, 1844, and was therefore grown by the time of the events of Farmer Boy, which took place around 1866. Laura married Harrison Howard in 1874, had four children, and died in Crowley, Louisiana, in 1899.
The next four Wilder children, Royal, Eliza Jane, Alice, and Almanzo, make up the major characters of Farmer Boy. Only Alice does not appear in the later books. She was born September 3, 1853, and married Albert Baldwin in 1879 in Spring Valley, Minnesota. Albert and Alice had two children, Myrtle and Leland. Alice died in Georgiana, Florida, in 1892.
The sixth child of the James and Angeline Wilder was Perley Day, born June 13, 1869, in Malone, New York. Perley grew up in Spring Valley, Minnesota, and moved to Crowley, Louisiana, in 1895. He married Elsie Merritt in 1897 and had six children. He later opened a general store in Kinder, Louisiana, and died in 1934.
James and Angeline left their Malone farm around 1875, and moved to Spring Valley, Minnesota. In 1898, they moved to Crowley, Louisiana, at the insistence of Eliza Jane, where they failed at rice farming. James died in 1899, and Angeline died in 1905.
Royal Gould Wilder
Royal Gould Wilder, the second child of James and Angeline Wilder, was a character in Farmer Boy, By the Shores of Silver Lake, The Long Winter, Little Town on the Prairie, and These Happy Golden Years.
Royal was born on February 20, 1847, in Malone, New York. In 1879, he went with his brother Almanzo and sister Eliza Jane to what is now De Smet, South Dakota, where he filed on a homestead and owned a feed store. He later returned to Spring Valley, Minnesota, to live near his parents.
In 1893, Royal married Electa Hutchinson, a widow with four children, and their only surviving daughter Bernice was born the following year. Royal died in Spring Valley in 1925.
Eliza Jane Wilder
Eliza Jane Wilder, born January 1, 1850, to James and Angeline Wilder, is known as Almanzo's bossy older sister in Farmer Boy, as well as Laura's and Carrie's unkind schoolteacher in Little Town on the Prairie.
E.J., as she was called, was a very strong-willed independent woman for her day. She filed on her own homestead claim near De Smet in Dakota Territory in 1879. She worked as a "government girl" in Washington, D.C., from 1887 to 1892.
In 1893, E.J. married Thomas Thayer, father of six children, and had one son, Walcott "Wilder" Thayer, in 1894. Thomas died in 1899, and E.J. married Maxwell Gordon, whom she later divorced.
E.J. moved to Crowley, Louisiana, and persuaded most of her family to move there and invest in rice farming, which resulted in a loss of the family fortune. She was a major influence on the life of her niece Rose, who came to live with her in Crowley for a year while attending high school.
E.J. moved in with her brother Perley in Kinder, Louisiana, later in life, where she died in 1930.
Log Cabin in the Big Woods
Log Cabin on the Kansas Prairie
Dugout on the Banks of Plum Creek
Masters Hotel, Burr Oak
The Surveyors' House by Silver Lake
Pa's Store building, De Smet
Rocky Ridge Farm, Mansfield
Almanzo's Father's Farm, Malone
Laura Elizabeth Ingalls was born February 7, 1867, the second daughter of Charles and Caroline Ingalls, in the Big Woods of Wisconsin, seven miles north of Pepin. In 1868, Pa and Ma (as Laura would later call her parents) took baby Laura and her sister Mary, age three, from the Big Woods to Chariton County, Missouri.
The family did not stay in Missouri long. Inspired by the Homestead Act of 1862 which offered 160 acres of "free land" to settlers who would farm and live on it for five years, Pa took his family to the prairies. The land Pa chose was about 12 miles from Independence, Kansas, within the boundaries of the Osage Diminished Reserve.
There Pa built a house and stable with the help of a neighbor, Mr Edwards. Later, the family contracted malaria and were fortunate that Dr Tann, who was actually a doctor to the Indians, was in the area. After building a house and planting crops, the Ingalls family was forced to leave in the fall of 1870, just after the birth of their third daughter, Carrie. Pa heard that the government had changed their minds about opening the land for homesteading and that soldiers were on their way to force the settlers out.
Pa did not wait for the soldiers. He took his family to their old home in the Big Woods. This enabled the girls to see more of their grandparents, aunts, and uncles. Laura and Mary attended the Barry Corner School, and spent many happy hours playing with their cousins. Ma was glad to be home, but Pa longed to go west again.
In 1874, the Ingalls journeyed west, trading for a small farm near Walnut Grove, Minnesota. The family lived in a dugout in the creek bank until Pa could build a wonderful new house made of sawed boards.
In Walnut Grove, the family joined the church pastored by Rev. Alden and Laura and Mary were able to attend school again. It was here that Laura met the snobby and cruel Nellie Owens.
Pa raised a wonderful wheat crop, and the family felt that surely this was the end of their troubles. However, grasshoppers invaded the area and destroyed all the crops. The family tried again the next year to raise a crop, but the grasshopper eggs left the previous year hatched and destroyed the crops again.
On November 1, 1875, a son was born to the Ingalls family, Charles Frederic. The following summer, the family traveled to Uncle Peter's farm in eastern Minnesota, where Pa helped with the harvesting. While there, baby Freddy became ill died on August 27, 1876.
The family, saddened at the loss of their son, moved on to Burr Oak, Iowa, where Pa's friend Mr. Steadman had purchased a hotel. The family lived in the hotel, and Ma and Pa helped the Steadmans manage it. They did not like the work, and moved first to some rented rooms over a grocery, and then to a little brick house outside of town.
The family's last child, Grace, was born in Burr Oak on May 23, 1877. The family was homesick for their friends in Walnut Grove, so they returned in the summer of 1877 to live in town while Charles did carpentry and other odd jobs, and opened a butcher's shop.
Laura and Mary were eager to find out what had happened in Walnut Grove while they were away. They found that Nellie Owens now had a rival, Genevieve Masters, the school teacher's daughter. Nellie and Genny fought for the leadership of the girls but it was Laura who became the leader, without even trying.
In 1879, Mary suffered a stroke and lost her eyesight. In that same year the Ingalls family made their final move when Aunt Docia from the Big Woods arrived and offered Pa a job as a railroad manager in Dakota Territory.
When the railway work moved on, the Ingalls family stayed. Together with their friends, the Boasts, they became the first residents of the new town of De Smet. Pa and Laura would have happily gone further west but Ma insisted that they stay put so that the children could get an education. Pa filed a claim on 160 acres of land 3 miles southeast of De Smet.
The Hard Winter of 1880-81 resulted in almost continuous blizzards from October to the following May. The blizzards made it all but impossible to travel in or out, and trains could not run to bring in supplies.
By late 1881, the family had saved up enough money to send Mary to the blind school at Vinton, Iowa. The government supplied the money for her tuition, but Ma and Pa had to pay for transportation to and from the school, and for suitable clothes for a young college girl.
As a teenager Laura had become rather a shy girl and initially found it difficult to mix with people. She seemed quite fearful of crowds. Laura worked hard at school and showed a great interest in English, history and poetry. Unfortunately, Genevieve Masters had arrived in De Smet and along with the teacher, Eliza Jane Wilder, began to cause trouble for Laura. However Miss Wilder left the school and Laura was able to become top of her class.
At the early age of 15, Laura earned her teaching certificate. She was hired by the Bouchie School, 12 miles away, and boarded with the Bouchie family. Mrs. Bouchie was apparently going through a mental breakdown due to the isolation of the settlement, and Laura was frightened of her. She was therefore very grateful when a young man, Almanzo Wilder, a local farmer and brother of her old teacher, offered to drive his sleigh through howling gales and freezing temperatures each weekend to bring her home.
At first Laura thought Almanzo was doing it only as a favor to Pa. Over the next three years, however, she gradually allowed Almanzo into her affections and they married on August 25, 1885.
Their daughter Rose was born December 5, 1886, but the farming life was no easier for the newly married couple than it had been for Laura's father and mother. Droughts and hail storms ruined crops and kept them in debt. Diphtheria and over work led to Almanzo being crippled. Their second child, a baby boy, died unnamed soon after his birth in August 1889. An accident in the kitchen resulted in their house burning down.
Almanzo and Laura left De Smet to live with Almanzo's parents in Spring Valley, Minnesota, but the weather did not help Almanzo's health. They moved to Westville, Florida, where Laura's cousin Peter had made his home. Almanzo's health improved, but Laura could not take the heat, and the women did not accept her socially because she was a "Yankee". In 1892, Almanzo, Laura, and little Rose returned to De Smet.
On July 17, 1894, the Wilders left South Dakota again. This time, they traveled to Mansfield in the Ozarks of Missouri. They arrived on August 30, and purchased Rocky Ridge Farm. The house began as a small log cabin, but Laura and Almanzo added to it over the years, until it became the large rambling farmhouse that it is today.
Laura began to write articles for the Missouri Ruralist and other magazines. In 1930 she wrote her autobiography which she called Pioneer Girl. She could not find a publisher, but she rewrote part of it, with Rose's help, as Little House in the Big Woods. The book was an instant success, and children all over the world begging Laura to tell more stories about Laura and Mary. The result was the Little House books.
Almanzo died on October 23, 1949, at the age of 92. Laura died on February 10, 1957, at Rocky Ridge Farm at the age of 90.
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