Laura Ingalls Wilder
By Katherine Darlington
On February 7, 1867, a little girl was born to Charles and Caroline Ingalls in Town Pepin, Wisconsin. Laura Ingalls, the second of five children, began her pioneering life. She did not know it then, but some day she would write about her life for thousands of children to read and enjoy. Little House in the Big Woods, Little House on the Prairie, and On the Banks of Plum Creek are only a few of the books written by Laura, all based on her life.
Laura called home many places. Her father moved his family briefly to Missouri from Wisconsin before settling outside of Independence, Kansas. Here is where Laura’s family contracted malaria and were helped by Dr. Tann, a black doctor to the Indians. Shortly after Laura’s sister Carrie was born, the family was forced to move because soldiers were supposed to make settlers of the area move. The government decided not to open the land for homesteading.
In 1874, Laura and her family moved near Walnut Grove, Minnesota. On the Banks of Plum Creek describes a mean girl named Nellie Oleson. In reality, the character of Nellie Oleson was a combination of three girls. And it was in Minnesota that Laura witnessed thousands of grasshoppers destroy her father’s crop. The hungry grasshoppers even ate through the sheets that were placed over crops for protection. They even feasted on human skin and hair.
Laura had only one brother, who died before his first birthday. Shortly after his death, the Ingalls family moved to Burr Oak, Iowa. This was where Laura’s youngest sister, Grace, was born.
Another event shaping Laura’s life happened when her sister, Mary,
suffered a stroke and became blind. Laura and her family were now in Walnut Grove, Minnesota again. Fourteen-year-old Mary depended on Laura, and she described everything to Mary with as much detail as possible.
DeSmet, South Dakota was the final place Laura moved with her family. Here she obtained her teaching certificate when she was fifteen years old and married Almanzo Wilder in August, 1885. In 1886 their daughter, Rose, was born. A son was later born, but died in infancy.
Laura and Almanzo moved several more times before making Mansifeld, Missouri, their home. Rocky Ridge Farm started as a log cabin but grew as the years passed by.
In her lifetime, Laura witnessed other heartache. Her home burned in DeSmet, before she and Alamanzo moved. Having contracted diphtheria, Almanzo’s health was poor, although he later improved, although hard work left him crippled. Laura also witnessed and lived through blizzards, like so many other people.
Laura wrote articles for various magazines. She wrote Pioneer Girl but could not find a publisher. However, she rewrote some of the book, and Little House in the Big Woods was born.
On February 7, 1957, Laura passed away on her farm in Missouri at the age of 90.
Laura’s books are published in over 40 languages today. Children and adults continue to find joy in Laura’s words. Life did not make her bitter. She faced crises head-on and found good in many things. Reading her books, one might discover the happy events in her life overcome the bad.
A strong woman, Laura marked history with her books. As we read her words, we rediscover the world as Laura once experienced, and almost feel the icy, cold water rush over our toes as we dip them into Plum Creek.
A stay-at-home mom, Katherine Darlington has been writing stories
and poetry for many years. Publications include stories at
TALESetc.com, Bay Forest Publishing, Lines in the Sand, Kota Press,
and poetry in major anthologies. An article and story has been
accepted for publication with Ink Burns and the Spinning Straw.
Katherine finished her first novel and is working on her second. A
licensed massage therapist, Katherine lives in southern Arizona with
her husband and two children.