The Big Woods of Wisconsin: Laura Elizabeth Ingalls Wilder BirthPlace
Laura Ingalls Wilder, the women who shared her experience of the Prairie to children everywhere.
"Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote the first of her eight novels: Little House in the Big Woods. Her books would go on to sell 60 million copies. This story was about this house and the people and stories shared within it."
"The Little House, The Big Woods of Wisconsin: Laura Elizabeth Ingalls Wilder BirthPlace"
Here is: Melissa Gilbert as Laura Ingalls Wilder "The girl who acted as Laura Ingalls Wilder in the famous TV series: the Little House on the Prairie"
Backstory and Context
Laura Ingalls Wilder illustrates her childhood as “full of sunshine and shadow.” Growing up, she and her Pa, Ma, sisters, and brother frequently moved from one town to the next. Her family experienced harsh winters, crop and business (hotel) failures. In 1874, the Ingalls left their home in Wisconsin, to the Kansas prairie, Native American country of the Osage tribe. Afraid for good reason, the Osage tribe, didn’t want settlers to push them out of their home. Laura remembered the Indian war chants as the tribes discussed taking the land back. When her father heard of the US army coming into the area to zone off the Native Americans the family packed and moved back to their Pepin farm in Wisconsin. The family reminisced about good times in Wisconsin: prime fishing in Lake Pepin, hunting the woods, strawberries on the hill, and a growing wheat field. Her father, however, did not want to stay long; he had the ambition to move west. Laura describes her dad as a “jolly person, but was inclined to be reckless.” Her mother was more careful when it came to making big decisions.1-19
In Wisconsin, she lived close to other family members, her Uncle Henry (her mom’s brother) and Aunt Polly (her father’s sister). She shares memories of her father hunting and fishing preparing for winter. “The wagon box was full and some of them were so lone the more reached across the wagon box. Father had been to Lake Pepin, seven miles away and caught them with a net. There were so many fish and so few people, in those days that it was not wrong to do so.” Sitting by her fire, she watches her father melt bits of led into bullets for hunting. She describes salting down the meat for winter; this was one way her family would preserve food. Additionally, there was a garden that was previously started when they moved back. It was full of carrots, potatoes, beets, turnips, and cabbage. They stored it away along with other crops: onions, pumpkins, and squash.1-19
Laura recalls playing indoors as the snow fell, “one day the sun was nearly hidden by smoke all day.” When the work was done, her Ma would cut out paper dolls and allowed the children use the stove for their “playhouse dinners”. On occasion, when Pa would finish work before the girls went to bed, they enjoyed playing a game called ‘mad- dog’. Her dad “would run his fingers through his through his hair standing it all to one end. Then he would get on all fours and growl chasing the girls all around the room, trying to corner them so they couldn’t get away.” The family would also, bundle up and take turns sledding in one big slay on special days like Christmas for fun. Laura had fond memories living in Wisconsin, but the itch her father had about moving west came over time. Throughout, her lifetime, she moved to multiple different places with her family, and her husband Almanzo Wilder.1-19
Because they moved frequently, Laura and her sibling taught one another. Laura was unenthusiastic about going to school at first, but her dad reminded her the importance of education; “…it isn’t everybody that gets a chance to learn to read and write and cipher,” he told his daughters. Laura’s mom had been a teacher when her parents met. Caroline wanted her children to receive an education at every opportunity. Laura and her sisters would go to every school house near where they lived. For a short time, she went to Barry Corner School in Pepin County, Wisconsin at age 4. However, she was taught to read before, becoming a student. When Laura was older, she became a school teacher in Dakota Territory, and at Bouchie School about twelve miles from her parents’ home, around 1882. Although she did not graduate high school Laura passed the certifications exam at 15 years old and began teaching. Her sister Mary Ingalls, also became a teacher and graduated from Iowa College of the Blind in 1889.1-19
Laura began writing her memories of her childhood into children’s books to share a part of life that many people will never experience. The first time she showed her stories to publishers they rejected them, telling her it was a waste of time to write for children. However, in the midst of the Depression, Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote the first of her eight novels: Little House in the Big Woods. Her books would go on to sell 60 million copies. This story was about this house and the people and stories shared within it. She explains her life through a child’s eyes living a pioneer life: describing how her father hunted for food, her family growing in the garden, and how hey built everything they had with their bare hands. In cheerful detail, she writes about Christmas morning with gifts of paper dolls, candy, and red mittens. Additionally, talking about her first ride into town, the harvest, and her jolly Pa playing the fiddle. Overall, “not only does she tell the stories of her life through these novels, but what life could be like if you live up to the best ideals.” 1-19
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