June 4, 2010

The Ingalls Family

"I am beginning to learn that it is the sweet, simple things of life
which are the real ones after all."

Charles Phillip Ingalls, son of Lansford Whiting Ingalls and Laura Louise Colby, was born 10 Jan 1836 in Cuba, NY and died 8 Jun 1902 in DeSmet, SD. He married Caroline Lake Quiner, daughter of Henry Newton Quiner and Charlotte Wallis Tucker, 1 Feb 1860 in Concord, WI. Caroline was born 12 Dec 1839 in Brookfield, WI and 20 Apr 1923 in DeSmet.

Charles and Caroline made their first home near the village of Pepin in the “Big Woods” of Wisconsin where their daughters, Mary and Laura, were born. Pepin became the setting for Laura’s first book, Little House in the Big Woods. Inspired by the Homestead Act of 1862, which offered 160 acres of “free land” to settlers who would farm and live on it for 5 years, they headed to land located within the boundaries of the Osage Diminished Reserve where they built a home and planted crops.

Carrie Ingalls was born in the summer of 1870. Come fall her parents learned the government had changed their minds about opening the land for homesteading and was sending soldiers to force settlers out. Rather than wait for them to arrive, the family returned to the Big Woods. But it wasn’t long before Charles longed to go west again. So, in 1874, they traded for a small preemption claim in Walnut Grove, Minnesota where the family lived in a creek bank dugout until Charles could build their home. In Nov 1875 their son “Freddy” was born.

After grasshoppers invaded the area and destroyed their crops, they traveled to an uncle’s farm in South Troy, Minnesota where Charles helped with the harvesting. While there, Freddy became ill and died. Saddened by the loss of their son, the Ingalls moved on to Burr Oak, Iowa where a friend had purchased a hotel. The Ingalls lived in the hotel and helped manage it, but did not like the work. They moved first to some rented rooms over a grocery and then to a little brick house outside of town, where their daughter Grace was born in May 1877.

Homesick for their friends, they returned to Walnut Grove in the summer of 1877. Charles served as the town butcher and Justice of the Peace. In 1879, their daughter Mary suffered a stroke and lost her eyesight. That same year the Ingalls family made their final move when Charles was offered a job as a railroad manager in Dakota Territory.

When the railway work moved on, the Ingalls family stayed and, together with friends, became the first residents of the new town of DeSmet and watched the town rise up from the prairie in 1880.

Children of Charles and Caroline Ingalls:

Mary Amelia Ingalls was born 10 Jan 1865 near the village of Pepin in the Big Woods of Wisconsin and died 17 Oct 1928 while visiting her sister Carrie in Keystone, SD. At the age of 14, Mary had a stroke that resulted in blindness. Her sister Laura became “eyes for Mary”, describing everything she saw for her blind sister. In late 1881, the family had saved up enough money to send Mary to the Iowa School for the Blind in Vinton, Iowa.

Laura Elizabeth Ingalls was also born near the village of Pepin on 7 Feb 1867 and died in her sleep on 10 Feb 1957 at “Rocky Ridge Farm” in Mansfield, MO. She attended school in DeSmet, where she met homesteader Almanzo James “Manly” Wilder, son of James Wilder and Angeline Albina Day. Almanzo was born 13 Feb 1857 in Malone, NY and died at Rocky Ridge Farm on 23 Oct 1949.

At the age of 15, Laura earned her teaching certificate and was hired by the Bouchie School. She stopped teaching when she married Almanzo on 25 Aug 1885 in DeSmet. Their daughter Rose was born 5 Dec 1886. Their second child, a boy, died unnamed soon after his birth in Aug 1889.

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. The tales of their trials at farming can be found in The First Four Years (1971), a manuscript that was discovered after Rose’s death.

In 1930, Laura asked her daughter’s opinion about a biographical manuscript she had written about her pioneering childhood. The Great Depression, coupled with the death of her mother in 1924 and sister Mary in 1928, seem to have prompted her to preserve her memories in a life story. The title of the first of her books was When Grandma Was a Little Girl, later titled Little House in the Big Woods (1932). Other books include:
  • Farmer Boy (1932) -- About Almanzo’s childhood on a farm in New York.
  • Little House on the Prairie (1935)
  • On the Banks of Plum Creek (1937)
  • By the Shores of Silver Lake (1939)
  • The Long Winter (1940) -- Describes one of the most severe winters on record in the Dakotas.
  • Little Town on the Prairie (1941)
  • These Happy Golden Years (1943)
  • On the Way Home (1962) -- A diary of the Wilders’ move from DeSmet to Mansfield.
  • The First Four Years (1971)
  • West From Home (1974) -- Laura’s letters to Almanzo during a 1915 visit to their daughter Rose in San Francisco.
  • The Road Back (Part of A Little House Traveler: Writings from Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Journeys Across America) – Previously unpublished record of a 1931 trip with Almanzo to DeSmet and the Black Hills.

Caroline Celestia “Carrie” Ingalls was born was born 3 Aug 1870 in Montgomery Co., KS and died of a sudden illness on 2 Jun 1946 in Pennington Co., SD. She married mine owner David N. Swanzey, a widower with two young children, on 1 Aug 1912. David was born in 1854 and died in Apr 1938.

They lived in Keystone, SD … the site of Mt. Rushmore. When Gutzon Borglum arrived in the area looking for a good site for the carving, David was one of a group of men who recommended the mountain and led the sculptor to it. His son helped with the carving.

Charles Frederic “Freddy” Ingalls was born 1 Nov 1875 in Walnut Grove, MN. The following summer, the family traveled to an uncle’s farm near South Troy, MN where Freddy died on 27 Aug 1876.
Grace Pearl Ingalls was born 23 May 1877 in Burr Oak, IO and died 10 Nov 1941 in DeSmet, SD.

Like her sister Laura, Grace became a teacher. She met Nathan William Dow while teaching in Manchester, SD and married him in DeSmet on 16 Oct 1901. He was born in 1859 and died in DeSmet in 1943.

They lived in Manchester until the death of Grace’s mother, after which they returned to DeSmet to care for her sister Mary. A diary kept during her girlhood years was published in William Anderson’s booklet, The Story of the Ingalls.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

FYI, Carrie did NOT remarry after David's death. Her stepdaughter Mary is the one who married Monroe and had 11 children.