Pepin, Wisconsin in the Past
In the 1870s, Pepin, Wisconsin was home to the Ingalls family, whose experiences would later be immortalized in Laura Ingalls Wilder’s beloved “Little House in the Big Woods.” This idyllic setting provided the backdrop for many memorable moments in the book, including the “sugaring off” process and the making of honey and syrup. Life in Pepin was simple, yet full of joy and wonder for young Laura and her sister Mary.
The Ingalls’ homestead in the Big Woods featured an attic loft where Laura and Mary shared many adventures, playing among the pumpkins, squash, and other foods hanging from the ceiling. It was in Pepin where Laura received her cherished rag doll, Charlotte, as a gift from Santa. These heartwarming experiences captured in Wilder’s book provide readers with a window into the close-knit family life and the rich, natural world that surrounded them.
Named after the Pepin brothers, the first two French trappers in the area, Pepin and Lake Pepin hold historical significance in the region. The village was settled in 1846 and quickly gained prominence as a steamboat boomtown. Famous figures like Mark Twain and affluent Chicago socialites spent their summers on the picturesque shores of Lake Pepin, drawn by its beauty and tranquility.
In “Little House in the Big Woods,” Laura Ingalls Wilder provides detailed descriptions of both the town of Pepin and Lake Pepin, painting a vivid picture of the landscape and community during her childhood. Fans of the book will recall Laura’s fascination with the pretty pebbles found along the shores of Lake Pepin, which led to her inadvertently tearing the pocket of her dress.
During the 1870s, the town of Pepin was a bustling and thriving community, where residents like Charles Ingalls and his family lived and worked. The Ingalls’ experiences in Pepin, both in their Little House in the Big Woods and in the town itself, shaped their lives and left an indelible mark on their hearts.
Ultimately, the Pepin of the 1870s, as experienced by Laura Ingalls Wilder and her family, was a place of warmth, love, and adventure. Through Wilder’s vivid storytelling, the history and charm of Pepin, Wisconsin in the 19th century come alive, allowing readers to share in the Ingalls family’s unique experiences and appreciate the timeless appeal of their story.