Laura Ingalls Wilder

I was a big fan of Little House on the Prairie.  I absolutely loved the show.  I watched it religiously weekdays when I was on maternity leave. I watched Laura Ingalls grow up from half-pint to a young woman who married the man of her dreams.

Laura Ingalls Wilder was born Laura Elizabeth Ingalls on February 7, 1867, in Pepin, Wisconsin, the second of four children. She once described her father, Charles Philip Ingalls, as always jolly and sometimes reckless. Her mother, Caroline Lake Quiner, was educated, gentle, and proud, according to her daughter. Her sisters, all of whom would eventually appear in her books, were Mary, Carrie, and Grace. Laura also had a younger brother, Charles, Jr. (nicknamed Freddie), who died at the age of only nine months (

I remember the episode where Laura blamed herself for her brother’s death becasue she had been jealous of him.  She ran away and went to the mountain where she thought she would find God and speak to Him.  The most touching scene was when her father, Charles found her.  They fell into each others’ arms, crying.  Laura was very close to her father and once she told him that she would marry him.  To him, she would always be half-pint.

I admired Caroline Ingalls.  She was a loving wife and mother.  She worked hard on the farm and was famous for her homemade pies.  She and Charles had a solid marriage.  Both of them were positive role models for their children.  Laura learned to cook at a young age and she and her sisters learned to be responsible by doing chores.

According to the series, Mary was the pretty one.  I remember one episode where the boy Laura liked was interested in Mary.  Laura was more of a tomboy.  She went fishing with her father and male friends.  She used to get into fights.  She had a close relationship with her mother and sisters.  It was hard for her when Mary lost her sight due to scarlet fever.  She wrote, “Far worst of all, the fever had settled in Mary’s eyes, and Mary was blind.”  Mary ended up becoming a teacher at a blind school where she met her future husband who was also blind.  They had a child who unfortunately perished in a fire.

When Laura met Almanzo Wilder it was love at first sight for her but he saw her as a child.  At that time she still wore her hair in pigtails.  It wasn’t until she became a teacher, that he took notice of her.  The day he arrived to give her a ride to the school, Laura wore a smart outfit and her hair was in a chignon.  She didn’t look like a little girl.  She had transformed into a young lady.  That was when he fell in love with her.

Laura had said that she would marry Almanzo and she did.  They were blessed with a daughter whom they named Rose.  Laura quit teaching to help her husband on their farm.  She wrote about these times in her book, The First Four Years.   She and Almanzo experienced hardship and tragedy.  Laura gave birth to a son who died shortly after.  She never wrote about this in any of her books.  Almanzo came down with diphtheria, a terrible disease that causes breathing problems, which left him partially paralyzed.  He was able to walk but had to use a cane for the rest of his life.  Then, their house which he built himself, burned to the ground.

Laura and her husband moved to Mansfield, Missouri which they would call home for the rest of their lives. There they set up a farm and called  it Rocky Ridge.

At the age of sixty-five, Laura published the first of her eight “Little House” books, Little House in the Big Woods. It told the story of her early childhood years in Wisconsin and was a huge hit with readers.  She was seventy-six years old when she completed the last book in the Little House series.  Almanzo Wilder died at the age of ninety-two and Laura when she was ninety.   It was her daughter Rose who inspired Laura to write these books.

Today we would like to celebrate Laura Ingalls Wilder who invited us to be a part of her life in Walnut Grove.

It is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all.
Home is the nicest word there is.
Suffering passes, while love is eternal. That’s a gift that you have received from God. Don’t waste it.
Every job is good if you do your best and work hard. A man who works hard stinks only to the ones that have nothing to do but smell.

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