I am a few days late on this post. (You know how life gets in the way sometimes?) But I couldn’t go on without posting a special Happy Birthday message to “Pa” also known as Charles Ingalls and his first daughter Mary!
Charles and Caroline Ingalls
Charles Ingalls was born on January 10, 1836 in Cuba, New York. When Charles was still a boy his family left New York and moved westward to the Campton Township which was just west of the area that is now know as Elgin, Illinois. This move instilled in “Pa” and “itching foot” that kept the family moving. His marriage to Caroline Quiner in 1860 began in Wisconsin and they lived there about 8 years before moving to the Indian Territory in Kansas. Unfavorable circumstances in the Indian Territory kept the family moving and they moved back to Wisconsin, to southern Minnesota, to Iowa for a year and then back to Minnesota. The family was struggling in Minnesota and a job opportunity in the Dakota Territory presented itself. Caroline was supportive but asked Charles to promise this would be their last move. She was fearful her children would not receive a proper education. Charles agreed and the family settled in De Smet, South Dakota where Pa eventually died and was buried in 1902. Charles Ingalls died of heart disease at the age of 66.
Mary Ingalls, the first child of Charles and Caroline shares her fathers birthday! She was born on January 10, 1865 in Pepin, Wisconsin. Mary lived the life of a typical child on the Prairie until the age of 14. Laura’s books describe an incident where Mary became quite ill with “scarlet fever” and “stroke”. The illness eventually caused permanent blindness in Mary. Mary and her family, who supported her love for education, saved money and she attended the Iowa College for the Blind from 1881 to 1889. After graduation, Mary returned to South Dakota where she lived with her parents until their deaths. The television series Little House on the Prairie depicted Mary as having married a blind man and eventually opening a school for the blind. This was a fictional representation as the real Mary Ingalls never married. She died at the age of 63 from pneumonia and a stroke. She is buried near her parents in De Smet, South Dakota.
Prairie life certainly was not an easy one. Fortunately, Laura Ingalls Wilder realized that the nation was changing and prairie life was becoming a thing of the past. Laura’s journals, books and extensive collection of letters have helped to preserve the memory of not only the Ingalls but of the many brave and courageous settlers whom, against all odds, participated in Westward Expansion.
Images taken from www.wikipedia.com. Information stated was gathered from www.wikipedia.com, the Little House on the Prairie Books, and personal research of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s memoir, letters and biographies.