Then they dressed carefully in their woolen winter dresses and nervously combed their hair and braided it. They tied on their Sunday hair-ribbons. With the steel buttonhook they buttoned their shoes.
The Long Winter, Chapter 9 Cap Garland
A buttonhook (also called a button hook) is a small old fashioned tool that was traditionally used to help fasten buttons on clothing, especially shoes, boots and gloves. It is a long, thin, pointed metal rod or wire with a small hook or loop on the end. The hook or loop is inserted through the buttonhole, and then the button is caught and pulled through the hole by the hook or loop.
Buttonhooks were commonly used during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when buttoning shoes and gloves was a common task. The one that the Ingalls owned was made of steel. Laura and her family buttoned their boots with a buttonhook, as not all boots had laces at the time.
Buttons on boots and shoes were much smaller than what most people think of as buttons on footwear, so it was fairly easy to use a button hook. And buttons could be resewn onto footwear, such as when Carrie accidentally pulled off the button of one of her shoes in The Long Winter.