Laura Ingalls Wilder was an American writer known for the Little House on the Prairie series of children's books released from 1932 to 1943 which were based on her childhood in a settler and pioneer family.
During the 1970s and early 1980s, the television series Little House on the Prairie was loosely based on the Little House books, and starred Melissa Gilbert as Laura Ingalls and Michael Landon as her father, Charles Ingalls.
Laura Ingalls was born on February 7, 1867, 7 miles (11 km) north of the village of Pepin in the Big Woods region of Wisconsin, to Charles Phillip Ingalls and Caroline Lake (née Quiner) Ingalls. She was the second of five children, following Mary Amelia. Their three younger siblings were Caroline Celestia, Charles Frederick (who died in infancy), and Grace Pearl. Wilder's birth site is commemorated by a replica log cabin, the Little House Wayside. Life there formed the basis for her first book, Little House in the Big Woods (1932).
During her childhood years, the family moved to Kansas, Missouri, back to Wisconsin and then in 1880 homesteaded in De Smet, South Dakota. On December 10, 1882, two months before her 16th birthday, Wilder accepted her first teaching position. She taught three terms in one-room schools when she was not attending school in De Smet.
Their first few years of marriage for the Wilders were frequently difficult. Complications from a life-threatening bout of diphtheria left Wilder's husband partially paralyzed. While he eventually regained nearly full use of his legs, he needed a cane to walk for the remainder of his life. This setback, among many others, began a series of disastrous events that included the death of their newborn son; the destruction of their barn along with its hay and grain by a mysterious fire; the total loss of their home from a fire accidentally set by their daughter; and several years of severe drought that left them in debt, physically ill, and unable to earn a living from their 320 acres (129.5 hectares) of prairie land. These trials were documented in Wilder's book The First Four Years (published in 1971). Around 1890, the couple left De Smet and spent about a year resting at the home of Wilder's husband's parents on their Spring Valley, Minnesota farm before moving briefly to Westville, Florida, in search of a climate to improve Wilder's husband's health. They found, however, that the dry plains they were used to were very different from the humidity they encountered in Florida. The weather, along with feeling out of place among the locals, encouraged their return to De Smet in 1892, where they purchased a small home.
Move to Missouri
In 1894, the Wilder family moved to Mansfield, Missouri, and used their savings to make the down payment on an undeveloped property just outside town. They named the place Rocky Ridge Farm and moved into a ramshackle log cabin.
Marriage and Family
Wilder's teaching career and studies ended when she married Almanzo Wilder, whom she called "Manly", on August 25, 1885. As he had a sister named Laura, his nickname for Wilder became "Bess", from her middle name, Elizabeth. Wilder was 18 and he was 28. He had achieved a degree of prosperity on his homestead claim, and their prospects seemed bright. She joined him in a new home, north of De Smet.
On December 5, 1886, Wilder gave birth to her daughter Rose Wilder. In 1889, Wilder gave birth to a son who died at 12 days of age before being named. He was buried at De Smet, Kingsbury County, in South Dakota. On the grave marker, he is remembered as "Baby Son of A. J. Wilder".
|Offspring of Almanzo "Manly" James Wilder and Laura Elizabeth Ingalls (1867-1957)|
|Rose Wilder (1886-1968)||5 December 1886 De Smet, Kingsbury County, South Dakota, United States||30 October 1968 Fairfield County, Connecticut, United States|| Claire Gillette Lane (1885-)|
|Baby Son Wilder (1889-1889)||12 August 1889 De Smet, Kingsbury County, South Dakota, United States||24 August 1889 De Smet, Kingsbury County, South Dakota, United States|
Wilder was a descendant of the Delano family, the ancestral family of U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945). Philip Delano (1602-1683), the progenitor of the Delano family, emigrated to Plymouth Colony in 1621 on the Fortune. Through the Delano line she is also a direct descendant of Mayflower pilgrim Richard Warren (c1580-1628) Another family ancestor, Edmund Rice (1594-1663), emigrated in 1638 to the Massachusetts Bay Colony. One paternal ancestor, Edmund Ingalls, was born on June 27, 1586, in Skirbeck, Lincolnshire, England, and emigrated to America, where he died in Lynn, Massachusetts, on September 16, 1648.
- Philip Delano (1602-1683)/List of Famous Descendants
- Richard Warren (c1580-1628)/List of Famous Descendants
- List of Edmund Rice (1638) descendants
Gravesite of Laura Ingalls Wilder and husband Almanzo Wilder at Mansfield Cemetery, Mansfield, Missouri. Buried next to them is daughter Rose Wilder Lane.