Laura Ingalls Wilder gave modern
Americans an honest taste of what true American dreams are made of and
continues to influence young girls today. Her books are widely known across the
United States and are used in many schools to this today. She willing to take risks if it meant
that her life long dreams could true Laura wrote multiple books documenting
her struggles and triumphs growing up as a child pioneer. She has given us a
small glimpse into the hardships she faced and how she overcame them. She shows
that if family sticks together you can overcome anything.
Each of Laura’s books focuses on a
memorable part of her life. “Wilder went on to publish Little House in the Big Woods in 1932. Little House on the Prairie would follow in 1935, after an account
of her husband Almanzo Wilder’s childhood, Farmer
Boy, in 1933. Wilder wrote eight novels about her life, also including The Long Winter and By the Shores of Silver Lake, with four more published after her
death in 1957 at the age of 90, compiled based on her manuscripts, diaries and
letters.” (Flood, Allison). At
the age of 76, Laura completed her books in 1943. She once said, “As you read my
stories of long ago, I hope you remember that things truly worthwhile and that
will give you happiness are the same now as they were then. It is not the
things you have that make you happy. It is the love and kindness and helping
each other and just plain being good” (“Home.”).
Her books were later turned into a TV
series, which captured the hearts of adults and children everywhere. It first
aired in 1974 and ran until 1982. People everywhere followed Melissa Gilbert as
she portrayed Laura’s trials and triumphs. The series has kept Laura’s legacy
alive and will continue to keep peoples interest in her and her family’s life.
Even though it can at points be quite different from her books, they still keep
the true essence of what Laura depicts in her books.
Laura Elizabeth Ingalls
was born on February 7, 1867 to Charles and Caroline Ingalls, near Pepin,
Wisconsin. She was the second of four children, Mary being the oldest then
Laura, Carry and Grace.
As a young girl, Laura moved around a lot with her family. In 1874, her family moved
to Walnut Grove, Minnesota, and then in 1879, moved again to a home in the
Dakota Territory. Laura later wrote about her experiences trying to survive
cold temperatures, Indians, and the lack of food and many other important things
in her book Little House in the Big Woods (“Laura Ingalls Wilder”).
The next book in Laura’s exciting
yet dangerous life is The Long Winter. In
this book, she vividly paints a picture of what it was like to live in a log
cabin during one of the most chilling winters. As the story goes on, they soon
begin to run out of provisions and are trying to make the little they have left
last through the lingering blizzard. The Ingalls knew they could make it
through the extensive winter if they stuck together. This is just another
example of how Laura clearly depicts that if family sticks together they can
overcome any hardship that life throws at them. Laura once said, “A good laugh
overcomes more difficulties and dissipates more dark clouds than any other one
thing.” Even through what seemed like the worst winter imaginable the family
never lost their joy (The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder.”).
Laura attended regular school whenever
possible, but because of her family’s multiple moves, she was mainly self-taught.
In 1882, at the age of fifteen, she received her teaching certificate,
completing one of her life long dreams. Laura taught at a small country school
miles from her home in De Smet and boarded with a family who lived nearby. A
man named Almanzo Manly Wilder that her dad had met a few years earlier picked
her up everyday from the school to take her home. They were married on August
25, 1885 after courting for a little over two years. Laura then quit teaching
to help her husband on their farm and raise her child, Rose (Barnett, Todd).
She later wrote about this time in her
life with her husband and newborn daughter in her book The First Four Years.
They experienced one of the
hardest first four years possible. Their wheat was destroyed with hail along with
their barn being burned down which held all of their grain and hay they were
storing. Both Laura and Almanzo also contracted diphtheria, which ended
up leaving Almanzo partially paralyzed. They then lost two wheat crops because
of a drought, and all of this was followed by the death of their two-week-old
son. A few weeks later, their house burned, along with most of their possession
(Barnett, Todd). Laura did not let any of this stop her though. She once said, “It does not
so much matter what happens. It is what one does when it happens that really
counts” (Staff, Bio.).
Even though Laura and Almanzo’s life
together had a rocky start, it ended beautifully. After moving around some,
they finally settled in Mansfield, Missouri where they built a farm together
named “Rocky Ridge”. Almanzo farmer here until the day he died, and Laura
learned how to be the perfect farmers wife. “Rocky Ridge” is where Laura, in
her later sixties, would later write her famous children’s book series after
the encouragement of her daughter, Rose. On February 10, 1957, Laura died at Rocky
Ridge farm, three days past her ninetieth birthday. Some of her books would
later be published after her death (“About Laura Ingalls Wilder.”).
Over the course of Laura’s life she saw
many amazing things invented, but also saw the world experience many tragedies.
She saw the first camera, light bulb, car, and stove.. She was also alive for
the Civil War and World War one and two, three of the greatest tragedies
America has experienced. To make matters even worse she was also alive for the
Great Depression (America’s Best History Timeline). This put a great
strain on her and her family. Even though she saw all of these calamities,
Laura never ceased to keep a jubilant attitude. People everywhere should
examine Laura’s life and strive to be as joyful as she was especially in times
of hardship and adversity.
Laura Ingalls Wilder should continue to
be respected by people everywhere. She is one of the strongest women seen in
history. She endured happiness and adversity with grace and joy and showed us
that if family sticks together they can endure anything. She never failed to
keep her eyes on God. Laura truly did give Americans and honest taste of what
true American dreams are made of, and what it takes in order to achieve them.
Americans everywhere should admire this strong yet fascinating woman.