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
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
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
On February 7, 1957, Laura
passed away on her farm in Missouri at the age
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.