As most know, I’m an avid reader. Always have been. In my younger years I read all the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys… and then I found Little House on the Prairie. Oh my Lord, those books changed my life! I loved that series and how they fed my imagination. Those stories opened up a magical world for me.
Laura was born February 7, 1867 to Charles and Caroline Ingalls. (Yes, she used their real names in her books.) She came into the world in a log cabin in Wisconsin. She was one of five children—her older sister Mary; younger sisters, Carrie and Grace; and a brother Charles who died at nine months old.
When Laura was two years old, the family moved to Kansas and that began her trek across the territory. She described her early years as full of sunshine and shadow. The family’s frequent moves bear the blame for that. She barely got settled good and made friends only to have to start over in a new place.
Due to the numerous moves, Laura and her sisters taught themselves and were able to keep up whenever a school was available for them to attend.
She decided to teach school herself after Mary had to go away to a blind school and the family needed the extra income. Just fifteen years old, she accepted her first teaching position twelve miles from her family’s home.
Almanzo Wilder was a nearby neighbor and often went to pick Laura up from school. Over the course of those wagon rides, they fell in love and were married on August 25, 1885. She was 18 and quit teaching to help Almanzo.
In the winter of 1886, she gave birth to daughter Rose and in 1889, she had a son who died a month after birth. Tragedy struck again shortly after when Almanzo contracted diptheria. It left him partially paralyzed. Then their home burned to the ground in 1890.
They drifted from place to place for four years and finally settled on a 200 acre farm in the Ozarks of Mansfield, Missouri that they called Rocky Ridge. Times got no easier and they had to sell firewood to buy food.
Sometime in the 1910s, their daughter Rose became a reporter for the San Francisco Bulletin. She was the one who encouraged Laura to write. At first it was only articles and short stories about general farm life. She worked hard to develop her skill and found a little success.
Tragedy struck again. The Stock Market crashed in 1929 and they lost everything. Rose too. It was at this time that mother and daughter began to work on the Little House books. In 1932, Laura published The Little House in the Big Woods, the first of her 8 books and finally found success.
By the time she published the last one in 1943, she was 76 years old. Almanzo died in 1949 but Laura stayed on their farm, reading and responding to mail from readers. In February 1957, she passed from this life on their farm.
The television series of Little House on the Prairie aired from 1974 to 1982. Children today love reading about Laura’s life, never guessing it’s all true.
Did you read the books or watch the TV series? What are your thoughts? Leave a comment to be entered in the drawing for a $10 Amazon gift card.