Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Laura Ingalls- Wilder

Next month we will be blessed to spend the day outside at one of the former homesteads of Laura Ingalls Wilder. They are hosting a picnic there. I did not even know this homestead existed and so close to us. So it prompted me to look it up online. According to the wikipedia Laura and Almanzo settled in Westville, FL around 1890 hoping the climate would improve Almanzo's health. By 1892 they had left the farm stead. It is said that Laura was not fond of the humidity here. Peter, her cousin, did marry and remain in the area. From the flyer I read I took these were Peter's descendents, that still own and operate the farm. I could be wrong on this...so please do not quote me. There is so much interesting history wrapped up in Mrs. Ingalls-Wilder. This could very well be the best home-school trip of the year. So more about this magnificent woman.

She was born in 1867 in Wisconsin. She was born to Charles and Caroline Ingalls. She was the second of five children. Which included the following: Mary Amelia, who went blind, Caroline Celestia, whom they called Carrie, Charles Frederick, who died at nine months old, and Grace Pearl. Then when she was very young Charles Ingalls decided to settle in Indian territory. After less than two years there...they moved back to Wisconsin. Then he father lead them to Walnut Grove, Minnesota, they also lived with relatives in South Troy, Minnesota, and then he ran a hotel in Iowa. Then the family settled in DeSmet. It's where Laura made friends, went to school, and met Almanzo. A quote from wikipedia:

"This time in her life is well documented in the Little House Books. Many fans tend to mistakenly accept the material in the books as completely factual, forgetting they are really fictional autobiography. Pioneer Girl, Laura's unpublished original autobiographical manuscript shows the subtle differences between reality and fiction when compared to the published books. Like many writers, she sometimes compressed characters, changed names, and juxtaposed incidents in the interest of better story telling. The best example of this is "Nellie Oleson", who first appears in On the Banks of Plum Creek, and makes her final appearance in These Happy Golden Years. Nellie Oleson was actually a composite of three actual people from Laura's life during those years: Nellie Owens, Genevieve Masters, and Stella Gilbert." (quote ending).

When Laura was 15 she took her first teaching job...when she was not attending school herself. She later said she did not care for teacher all the much. What motivated her to teach was the responsibility she felt financially for her family. When Laura and Almanzo was married on August 25, 1885 she quit teaching. In 1886 she gave birth to Rose and in 1889, sadly, she gave birth to a son that died soon afterward.

All of the following is quoting from Wikipedia:

"The first few years of marriage held many trials. Complications from a life-threatening bout of diphtheria left Almanzo 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 unnamed newborn son, the destruction of their home and barn by fire, and several years of severe drought that left them in debt, physically ill, and unable to earn a living from their 320 acres (1.3 km2) of prairie land. The tales of their trials farming can be found in The First Four Years, a manuscript that was discovered after Rose Wilder Lane's death. It was published in 1971, and detailed the hard-fought first four years of marriage on the Dakota prairies.
In about 1890, the Wilders left
South Dakota and spent about a year resting at Almanzo's parents' prosperous Minnesota farm, before moving briefly to Westville, Florida. They sought Florida's climate to improve Almanzo's health, but Laura, who was used to living on the dry plains, wilted in the heat and southern humidity. In 1892, they soon returned to DeSmet and bought a small house (although later accounts by Rose mistakenly indicated it was rented). The Wilders received special permission to start precocious Rose in school early and took jobs (Almanzo as a day laborer, Laura as a seamstress at a dressmaker's shop) to save enough money to once again start a farm.

Rocky Ridge Farm
In 1894, the hard-pressed young couple moved a final time to
Mansfield, Missouri, using their savings to make a partial down payment on a piece of undeveloped property just outside of town. They named the place Rocky Ridge Farm. What began as about 40 acres (0.2 km2) of thickly-wooded stone-covered hillside with a windowless log cabin, over the next twenty years evolved into a 200-acre (0.8 km2), relatively prosperous poultry, dairy, and fruit farm. The ramshackle log cabin was eventually replaced with an impressive and unique ten-room farmhouse and outbuildings.
The couple's climb to financial security was a slow process. Initially, the only income the farm produced was from wagon loads of firewood Almanzo sold for fifty cents in town, the result of the backbreaking work of clearing the trees and stones from land that slowly evolved into fertile fields and pastures. The apple trees would not begin to bear fruit for seven years. Barely able to eke out more than a subsistence living on the new farm, the Wilders decided to move into nearby Mansfield in the late 1890s and rent a small house. Almanzo found work as an oil salesman and general delivery man, while Laura took in boarders and served meals to local railroad workers. Any spare time was spent improving the farm and planning for a better future.
Almanzo's parents visited around this time, and presented to Laura and Almanzo, as a gift, the deed to the house they had been renting in Mansfield. This was the economic jump start they needed, and they eventually sold the house in town and were able to move back to the farm permanently, using the proceeds to complete Rocky Ridge Farmhouse and expand their acreage."(quote ending)

I have learned so much by researching her life. For one we both had a Rose and my wedding anniversary is one day before hers. What a wonderful woman she was indeed. Her books and life still inspire us today. I plan on letting Lilly-Rose dress up. She already has a bonnet she loves wearing.

I can not wait until the day that she can appreciate, read, and love to listen to this book set. Really all the works by Mrs. Ingalls-Wilder. We are huge book worms in this home. She already loves picture books and us reading to her. So finding wholesome, educating, heart warming, and books of lessons in life are a rare treat to find. I am already buying up sets like this for her. I found Misty of Chincoteague in mint condition for .75. This was one of my favorites when I was about six years old. I am still on the look out for all of the Katie John series by Mary Calhoun. I ent through the whole series when I was about seven or eight. My husband is a huge book worm...I think more than I am! I just bought him the complete series of Narnia in one book. He can read that in one week..lol. With Lilly-Rose, since she was a baby and could crawl, she could keep herself occupied for long periods of time with books.
I hope to spotlight a woman once a month. So we can all learn more on inspiring and encouraging women.

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