Laura’s Friends

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GRANDPA AND GRANDMA INGALLS-Landsford and Laura -continued to live on their farm thirteen miles north of the “little house in the big woods.” Grandma lived until 1883 and Grandpa died in 1896 at the age of 84. 

UNCLE PETER, AUNT ELIZA AND THEIR FAMILY-left the Big Woods settlement and settled in Mazeppa, Minnesota along the Zumbro River. Their son Peter came to DeSmet but returned to Minnesota with Laura and Almanzo Wilder in 1890. From there Peter made a voyage down the Mississippi with Perley Wilder, Almanzo’s brother. He married and raised his family in Florida. Alice and Ella married the Whiting brothers and homesteaded in Dakota. Alice and her husband Arthur lived lastly in Louisiana, where other relatives had settled. Other children of Peter and Eliza were Edith and Llewelyn. 

AUNT RUBY AND DOCIA-both married and moved west. Ruby became Mrs. Card and died in Inman, Nebraska in 1881. Docia married Hiram Walvogel and traveled to the Far West. 

THE HULLEATT FAMILY-whose father Thomas was a Lord from England left Pepin at the turn of the century and lived in Whitehall, Wisconsin. There both parents died and Clarence taught, before his marriage and opening of a hardware business. Eva taught school, learned dressmaking and was a telephone girl before her marriage. She lived in various parts of the country before settling in Zion, Illinois. 

ELECK NELSON AND FAMILY, the Ingalls’ neighbors on Plum Creek remained in Walnut Grove. Mr. Nelson became an important businessman of the town, in partnership with his son. 

ROBERT AND ELLIE BOAST —built a substantial set of buildings on their homestead before moving into DeSmet around the turn of the century. Mr. Boast went into the real estate business, served as street commissioner in the “little town” and is responsible for the planting of many trees. Mrs. Boast was crippled for years with arthritis, confined to a wheel chair or her own wicker chair. Mrs. Boast was a great friend of the town’s children, holding parties at their home on Second Street. A special treat was given to selected children – seeing the whatnots in Mrs. Boast’s parlor, with their fascinating contents. Mrs. Boast lived until 1918, her husband surviving her by four years, dying at 73.

MARY POWER —married E. L. Sanford in DeSmet and was a banker’s wife. 

REVEREND EDWARD BROWN, a cousin of John Brown of Kansas fame lived until 1895 and before his death wrote a series of thirteen articles about his famous relative for the Northwestern Congregationalist. Mrs, Laura Brown is buried in DeSmet, a stone from their homestead called “Brown’s Hill” marking her grave. Ida married Elmer McConnell and moved to California. 

NELLIE OLESON and Laura never met after Nellie went to New York. There Nellie married and went to Washington State with her husband. Later, they were separated and Nellie moved to Louisiana, where she died. 

CAP GARLAND died in 1890, the result of injuries from the explosion of a steam threshing machine engine. His sister FLORENCE, Laura’s first DeSmet teacher, married C. L. Dawley and remained in DeSmet. 

The Story of the Ingalls by William Anderson 1971 copyright Seventh edition-1982. pp 31 & 32.

What Happened to…

In the Little House books, Laura talks of many people who have become almost as dear to us as Laura herself. We couldn’t find out what happened to every-one, but here is what we do know.

Ma and Pa Ingalls tired of trying to farm the homestead shortly after Laura was married. So, at Christmas time in 1887 they moved to De Smet permanently.

Pa built a comfortable little house for the family on Third Street, close to the school Carrie and Grace attended. Pa was very busy in town as Justice of the Peace, Deputy Sheriff, Town Clerk, and Street Commissioner. He was an active member of the school board and belonged to the Congregational Church. Pa worked as a carpenter while living in town. 

Pa died June, 1902 of heart failure. Ma and all his girls were with him when he died. 

After Pa died, Ma lived in the home on Third Street with Mary. They kept very busy. In 1918 Ma became ill and Grace and her husband, Nathan Dow came to live with Ma and Mary. Ma died in 1924. Charles and Caroline Ingalls are buried in the De Smet cemetery. 

Mary went to the blind school in Vinton, Iowa. When she graduated she returned home to live with Ma and Pa on Third Street. Mary would fill her days helping Ma around the house, reading her Braille books and playing the organ. After Ma died, Mary went to visit Carrie in Keystone, South Dakota. While she was there she became ill. She suffered a stroke, had complications and died in 1928 not having returned to her home in De Smet. She died at the age of 63 and is buried in the De Smet cemetery. 

Carrie, after graduating from high school, worked for the local newspaper, the De Smet News. This is where she learned the printing and publishing trade. In the early 1900s she was hired by pioneer crusader and reformer, E. L. Senn, owner of a chain of frontier newspapers, to establish and manage several Black Hills newspapers. Senn is often mentioned in Deadwood history as the fiery crusader who attacked gambling and drinking in  the pages of his newspapers and did his best to run the sporting element out of town. Her career as a pioneer newspaper woman eventually extended to many papers in western South Dakota.

Carrie tried homesteading and proved to be successful as she proved up her claim. The 41 year old spinster met and married David Swanzey in 1912 in Keystone, South Dakota. David was widowed with two small children. Carrie helped to raise his children but they never had children of their own. Carrie died in 1946 at the age of 76 and is buried in the De Smet cemetery. 

çThe Christian Science Monitor published Laura’s account of their visit “In the Land of Used-to-Be” in  1940:

      Sister Carrie lives in the Black Hills at the foot of Mt. Rushmore, where the great stone faces       are carved in  the living granite of the mountain top. As we drove the winding roads, these stone likenesses of Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt looked down on us.

Black Hills Information Web Home Page Copyright 1997 © Deadwood Magazine & James Taylor

Grace took a college teaching course and became a schoolteacher, just like Laura. She taught several schools near De Smet and while teaching, met a farmer named Nathan Dow. In 1901, Grace married Nate in the front parlor of the Ingalls Home on Third Street. They moved seven miles west of De Smet and farmed near the town of Manchester. They spent several later years taking care of Ma and Mary in De Smet but soon returned to Manchester. Grace suffered from bad health and died in 1941 at the age of 64. She is buried in the De Smet cemetery with her husband Nathan Dow. 

Laura Ingalls Wilder  was born in the big wood of Wisconsin on February 7, 1867. She died on February 10, 1957, living to be 90 years old. She began writing her series of Little House books when she was in her sixties. She knew she had many wonderful memories of living on the pioneering frontier. It was actually Rose, her daughter that encouraged Laura to write her books. 

Laura wrote nine books in all, five of which have a setting in De Smet. By the Shores of Silver Lake, The Long Winter, Little Town on the Prairie, These Happy Golden Years and The First Four Years. A sixth book was written as the family was leaving De Smet on their way to their new home in Mansfield, On the Way Home. 

Laura started writing in 1932, by the early 50’s her books were being read around the world. Today these popular children’s books are printed in over 40 different languages and cherished by school children everywhere. 

Almonzo Wilder was born in Malone, New York on February 13, 1857. His family moved to Springfield, Minnesota in 1875. Almanzo and brother Royal decided to try homesteading in Dakota Territory and this is where he met Laura Ingalls. They were married on August 25, 1885. They moved to Mansfield Missouri in 1894. This would be the last home of Almanzo. He died on October 23, 1949 at the age of 92. 

Rose Wilder was born on December 5, 1886, in De Smet, South Dakota. Laura named her daughter after the wild prairie rose. When Rose was a small child she learned to knit, sew and bake, but she was fascinated by books. In school, Rose was an excellent student. After finishing high school, Rose began writing for various publications and soon found that it opened up a whole new world of people to her. It was during her travels that she met and married Gillette Lane. They were married in 1909 when Rose was twenty-two years old. By 1918, Rose and Gillette’s marriage had ended, but Rose continued to write and went on to publish numerous books and national magazine articles. She was widely recognized as a gifted writer. 

During her years as a writer, Rose traveled across the world visiting many foreign countries. It was actually Rose who urged her mother to write down her stories. Rose wanted her mother to share all the special stories she’d heard as a child, stories of Laura growing up on the pioneering frontier with her family.  Rose was the only grandchild of Pa and Ma Ingalls. When Rose died on October 30, 1968, she was the last direct descendent of Charles and Caroline Ingalls.

Eliza Jane Wilder, who is first introduced in FARMER BOY as Almanzo’s sister, and later teaches Laura, moved to Louisiana. She married there and had a son, Wilder. Wilder was a spoiled child and on a visit to Rocky Ridge in 1903, shocked Laura with some of his hooligan action, including purposely breaking a sitting-room window.

Mary Power, one of Laura’s friends in Little Town on the Prairie and These Happy Golden Years, married a banker, Ed Sanford. They lived across the street from Ma and Pa’s residence until the early 1900’s when she and her husband moved to Bellingham, Washington. 

Nellie Oleson was born in LeRoy, Mn. August 2, 1868. The family moved to Walnut Grove, Mn. in 1873 and that is where Mr. and Mrs. Owens began operating a general store. It was here in Walnut Grove that Laura and Nellie first met. The family later moved several times eventually settling in Tillamook, Oregon where Nellie met and married Henry Frank Kirry. They had three children, Zola Margaret, Lloyd Prescott and Leslie Henry. Later in life Nellie and Henry separated. Nellie died in 1949 at Portland, Oregon and is buried next to her brother and father. 

Ida B. Wright was one of Laura’s dearest friends in school in DeSmet. Ida was born in Illinois, about 1867 of English parents. Her adopted father was clergyman Edward Brown, born in Connecticut about 1815, and her adopted mother was Laura J. G. Brown, born about 1829 in Massachusetts. In 1880 they lived in LaCrosse, Wisconsin.The lace she made for Laura as a wedding gift can be seen in the museum at Laura’s and Almanzo’s home in Mansfield, Missouri.From piecing together clues from many sources, Ida appears to have had a son, Robert Ellsworth McConnell 20 Nov 1890 in South Dakota. They then moved to California where, apparently, Ida’s husband soon died.

Margie Gray

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