Haven’t made vacation plans, yet? How about packin’ the wagon and heading out to one of the Laura sites? Oh, come on–you know you want to! Just tell your friends you’re going on a literary tour! Continue Reading »
“Once upon a time, sixty years ago, a little girl lived in the Big Woods of Wisconsin, in a little gray house made of logs,” so begins “The Little House in the Big Woods,” the first published book in the Little House series by beloved author, Laura Ingalls Wilder.
Laura Elizabeth Ingalls was born on February 7, 1867, to Charles and Caroline (Pa and Ma) Ingalls and to big sister, Mary, in Pepin Wisconsin. Due to Laura’s father having what Laura described as an “itchy foot,” the family traveled by covered wagon across the frontier to Missouri, Oklahoma, Minnesota, and Iowa, finally settling in 1879 in De Smet, South Dakota. Continue Reading »
Lazy, Lousy, Liza Jane.
Laura admitted she never really cared for her, and it showed in the Little House books. But, after reading, “A Wilder in the West” by William Anderson, I can’t help but have some admiration for the woman. Here are a few of the reasons why: Continue Reading »
This piece originally appeared in the Missouri Ruralist on December 15, 1924 in Laura’s column, As a Farm Woman thinks. Enjoy!
The snow was scudding low over the drifts of the white world outside the little claim shanty. It was blowing thru the cracks in its walls and forming little piles and miniature drifts on the floor and even on the desks before which several children sat, trying to study, for this abandoned claim shanty that had served as the summer home of a homesteader on the Dakota prairies was being used as a schoolhouse during the winter.
The walls were made of one thickness of wide boards with cracks between and the enormous stove that stood nearly in the center of the one room could scarcely keep out the frost tho its sides were a glowing red. The children were dressed warmly and had been allowed to gather closely around the stove following the advice of the county superintendent of schools, who on a recent visit had said that the only thing he had to say to them was to keep their feet warm.
This was my first school, I’ll not say how many years ago, but I was only 16 years old and 12 miles from home during a frontier winter. I walked a mile over the unbroken snow from my boarding place to school every morning and back at night. There were only a few pupils and on this particular snowy afternoon they were restless for it was nearing 4 o’clock and tomorrow was Christmas. “Teacher” was restless, too, tho she tried not to show it for she was wondering if she could get home for Christmas day. Continue Reading »
“On that dreadful morning when Mary could not see even sunshine full in her eyes, Pa had said that Laura must see for her. He had said, “Your two eyes are quick enough, and your tongue, if you will use them for Mary.” By the Shores of Silver Lake
Mary Amelia Ingalls became blind at the tender age of 14 due to a very high fever and a stroke(s). To ease Mary’s loss, Pa asked 12-year-old Laura to observe everything around her and relay it to Mary, which Laura did. By doing so, Laura developed a keen eye for detail and became an expert at description, so much so Mary told Laura she “made pictures” when she talked. Continue Reading »
Oftentimes, family members will share something in common, whether it be eye color, hair color, dimples, smile, or stature. With the Ingalls family, it seems they shared more than physical appearance. Somehow their DNA makeup included a writing gene.
Of course, we know Laura is famous for her Little House books, but the writing gene emerged long before these books were published. Laura wrote articles on poultry for The Star Farmer, a St. Louis publication, and later contributed a column on farm life for the Missouri Ruralist. Laura passed this writing gene on to her novelist daughter, Rose, without whom, arguably, there would not be any Little House books. Continue Reading »
“Then Ma took the sadiron out of the wagon and heated it up by the fire. She sprinkled a dress for Mary and a dress for Laura and a little dress for Baby Carrie, and her own sprigged calico. She spread a blanket and a sheet on the wagon seat, and she ironed the dresses.” Laura Ingalls Wilder, Little House on the Prairie.
Some days I don’t change out of my pajamas. It doesn’t happen often, just every once in a while when I’m feeling lazy. So, when I read the passage where Caroline Ingalls ironed the family’s clothes on the wagon seat, I wondered why. I understood washing the clothes, but ironing them? After all, the Ingalls were traveling in a covered wagon and pioneers wore the same clothing day after day. Even if Caroline ironed the clothing, they would quickly wrinkle again. Yet she plugged in the iron—no wait! She heated the iron by the fire and pressed the clothes using the wagon seat as a makeshift ironing boar
Why endure the drudgery of ironing on a wagon seat in the wilderness? Caroline clung to a strong sense of propriety. Standards mattered. Continue Reading »
“Ma said….. “I have an idea. What do you think of saving my church papers and your bundle of Youth’s Companions to open on Christmas day?” Laura Ingalls Wilder, The Long Winter.
The winter of 1880-1881 remains one of the hardest on record for the plain states. That winter, blizzard after blizzard pelted the prairies and isolated cities like the Ingalls’ hometown of De Smet, South Dakota. Someone from town braved the weather to retrieve the mail from the city of Preston. The Ingalls were delighted to receive magazines from their friend, Reverend Alden. But, Ma asked the girls not to read their papers right away, but to save them for Christmas Day. Laura didn’t want to wait. The magazines were filled with delightful stories, and she looked forward to the escape they offered while the howling blizzards raged. Mary, however, replied, “I think it is a good idea. It will help us to learn self-denial.” Continue Reading »
When you think of Laura Ingalls Wilder, Queen Victoria doesn’t normally come to mind. But, Victorian era customs infiltrated some aspects of pioneer life just the same. An example of this is found in the name cards Laura wrote about in Little Town on the Prairie.
Name cards (also called calling cards) originated in Europe and became quite popular in the States, especially in the East. Everyone of status had calling cards. Men’s cards were generally smaller and less ornate than ladies’ cards. Continue Reading »