“Remember, it is not the things you have that make you happy. It is love and kindness and helping each other and just plain being good.” Laura Ingalls Wilder

Published: Thursday, September 27, 2012 at 02:31 PM.


On Feb. 7, 1867, a literary legend was born, seven miles north of the small Village of Pepin, Wis., to Charles Phillip and Caroline Lake (Quiner) Ingalls. Laura Elizabeth Ingalls was the name to be given to this legend — a legend that lives on with the Ingalls family in Holmes County.

Laura was the second of five children born to the Ingalls. Laura’s older sister Mary Amelia was born on Jan. 10, 1865, Mary went blind at an early age. Next in the family of five siblings was Laura. There were three more children after Laura they were, Caroline (Carrie) Celestia who was born in August of 1870 and she died in June of 1946. Charles Fredrick was born on Nov. 1, 1875 and died nine month later on Aug. 26, 1876, the youngest of the Ingalls clan was Grace Pearl who was born on May 23, 1877 and died in 1941.

Charles, Laura’s father settled on some land that was not yet available to make homesteads upon in what is now known as Independence, Kan. When the Ingalls made there homestead there in the late 1800’s the land was Indian Territory. This phase in Laura’s life lead to her writing her most popular book Little House on the Prairie. Which later turned into the well-loved TV series and Movie by the same title.

When the family moved from the log cabin where the Ingalls children were born, they made a move to DeSmet, S.D. The family lived at this home site for the rest of Charles, Caroline and Laura’s sister Mary’s life. There lived on this land during one of the hardest winters in the Dakotas history this was the winter of 1880 and 1881. The winter of 1880 and 1881 inspired the writing of The Long Winter.

At the ripe age of 15 Laura received her teaching certificate on Dec. 24, 1882. When she was 18 she married Almanzo Wilder a bachelor homesteader he was 28 when they married on Aug. 25, 1885. Her live with Almanzo, which she lovingly called Mandy, is well preserved in her books Little Town on the Prairie and These Happy Golden Years.

The Wilders had two children  — a daughter Rose, now known as the author Rose Wilder Lane. Rose was born on Dec. 5, 1886. The Wilders also had an unnamed son who was born in 1889 and died shortly after birth. Rose is believed to be the one that convinced her mother to write about her childhood as part of a pioneer family.

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