Henry and Charlotte Quiner were the maternal grandparents of Laura Ingalls Wilder. Caroline Ingalls, Laura’s mother, was their daughter. Both Henry and Charlotte played an integral role in shaping the lives of their children and grandchildren, passing down a rich legacy of resilience, determination, and love for family, through the teachings and actions in the Little House books by Caroline Ingalls.
Henry Newcomb Quiner was born on April 9, 1807, in Halifax, Vermont, to William and Phoebe (Newcomb) Quiner. Charlotte Tucker was born on March 25, 1809, in Roxbury, Massachusetts, to Samuel and Betsey (Walker) Tucker. The couple met and married on April 2, 1831, in New Haven, Connecticut.
Moving Westward and Family Life
Inspired by the promise of a better life and opportunities in the expanding American frontier, Henry and Charlotte Quiner moved their young family westward. They initially settled in Brookfield, Wisconsin, around 1839, where they began building a home and establishing their family farm.
The Quiners had six children: Martha Morse (1832-1836), Joseph Carpenter (1834-1862), Henry Odin Jr. (1835-1886), Martha Jane (Quiner) Carpenter (1837-1927), Caroline Lake (Quiner) Ingalls (1839-1924), Eliza Ann (Quiner) Ingalls (1842-1931), and Thomas Lewis (1844-1903). Their daughter Caroline Lake would become the mother of Laura Ingalls Wilder.
Tragedy and Perseverance
In 1844, tragedy struck the Quiner family when Henry Newcomb Quiner died at the age of 37, leaving Charlotte to raise their six children on her own. He was aboard the schooner OCEAN of Mackinac, on Lake Michigan on a trading trip, but a storm struck and the schooner sank in the lake. Undeterred by adversity, Charlotte continued to work the family farm and instilled in her children the importance of hard work, resourcefulness, and self-sufficiency.
In 1849, Charlotte married Frederick Holbrook, a widower with six children of his own. Together, they blended their families and continued to work the farm. The Quiner and Holbrook children grew up together, forging strong bonds that would last a lifetime.
They also had one child together, Charlotte Elizabeth (Holbrook) Moore (1854-1939). This daughter would be the “Aunt Lotty” depicted in Little House in the Big Woods.
Legacy and Connection to Laura Ingalls Wilder
Charlotte Quiner’s legacy lived on through her children and grandchildren. Her daughter, Caroline Lake Quiner, married Charles Phillip Ingalls, and the couple had five children, including Laura Ingalls Wilder, the famous author of the “Little House on the Prairie” series.
Laura Ingalls Wilder’s stories were inspired by her own experiences growing up in the American West, as well as the stories and values passed down by her grandparents, Henry and Charlotte Quiner. Their spirit of adventure, resilience, and determination in the face of adversity left an indelible mark on their descendants and can be seen throughout Laura’s writing.
Charlotte Quiner passed away on September 20, 1884, at the age of 75 in Rome, Jefferson County, Wisconsin . She is buried alongside Frederick Holbrook.
In conclusion, the lives of Henry and Charlotte Quiner serve as a testament to the courage, perseverance, and love that characterized the lives of countless pioneers in the American West. Their values and experiences greatly influenced their granddaughter, Laura Ingalls Wilder, and continue to inspire readers around the world through her beloved “Little House on the Prairie” series.