Laura Elizabeth Ingalls Wilder – Biography
Laura Elizabeth Ingalls was the second child of Charles and Caroline Ingalls and was born on February 7, 1867, in Pepin, Wisconsin. She travelled with her family, and then later with her husband, and like her father, she loved to travel and always wanted to go West.
In De Smet, South Dakota she met and married Almanzo James Wilder. When Laura was teaching school twelve miles away when she was only sixteen, Almanzo came and took her back and forth each weekend behind the Morgan horses Laura loved so much – Prince and Lady.
After courting for two and one half years, they were married on August 25, 1885, with the bride wearing black. They spent four years trying farming which is documented in The First Four Years, which ended with a fire which destroyed the home Almanzo “Manly” had worked so hard to build.
In De Smet, on December 5, 1886 Rose was born. In August 1889, Laura had a baby boy who died shortly after.
The Wilder’s then spent several years living with various family members while Almanzo gained his strength back from his bout of diptheria, which resulted in his partial paralysis. In 1890, Laura, Almanzo and Rose lived with Almanzo’s parents in Spring Valley, Minnesota.
Between 1891 and 1892, the three then moved to Westville, Florida in hoped the warmer climate would help Almanzo’s legs. Laura hated living there so much, they returned to De Smet. In July, 1894 the three then left for Laura and Almanzo’s final home, Mansfield, Missouri where they bought Rocky Ridge Farm with the hidden $100 bill. Laura’s diary of the trip is published in On the Way Home.
After publishing many articles locally, Laura began to work on her memoirs, in a manuscript entitled Pioneer Girl. The concept of this book, which was essentially the whole series in one, lead to the start of the Little House series which was published by Harper and Brothers (now known as HarperCollins) children’s department.
Laura died on February 10, 1957 at her Rocky Ridge home, the last surviving member of her pioneering Ingalls family.
Many museums and historic sites have been set up in the hometowns where Laura spent her life, and many of her items are located at each site.