Guess who was born in Wisconsin (albeit not Green Bay)? 

Laura Ingalls was born in 1867 in Pepin County, Wisconsin.  Her father’s restless travels in search of a homestead led the Ingalls family through Kansas, Minnesota, Iowa, and finally, to DeSmet, South Dakota, where they settled.  In South Dakota, Laura Ingalls met and married Almanzo Wilder. 

The first few years of Laura and Almanzo’s marriage were challenging to say the least.  Almanzo suffered complications from diptheria that left him partially paralyzed; while he eventually learned to walk again, he used a cane for the rest of his life.  A son born to them in 1889 died after only a few days, their home and barn were destroyed by fire, and they were unable to farm for years due to severe drought.  Laura and Almanzo, with their daughter Rose, spent some time recuperating at Laura’s parents’ farm before striking out again.  They worked and saved money until they were able to purchase Rocky Ridge Farm in Mansfield, Missouri.  Over the next twenty years the farm grew and finally prospered.


Laura did not begin writing until her daughter, Rose, had achieved some success freelancing for magazines.  In the nineteen twenties, Rose’s career was booming and she invested heavily in the stock market.  Laura and Almanzo invested funds through their daughter’s broker as well.  The stock market crash wiped them out.  Laura approached Rose with a manuscript she had titled, “When Grandma Was a Little Girl.”  It became “Little House in the Big Woods,” and Laura Ingalls Wilder went on to write a series of extremely popular books based on her childhood spent wandering the prairie.  She died in 1957 at the age of ninety.   

No road, not even the faintest trace of wheels, or of a rider’s passing, could be seen anywhere.  That prairie looked as if no human eye had ever seen it before.  Only the tall wild grass covered the endless empty land and a great empty sky arched over it.  Far away the sun’s edge touched the rim of the earth.  The sun was enormous and it was throbbing and pulsing with light.  All around the sky’s edge ran a pale pink glow, and above the pink was yellow, and above that blue.  Above the blue the sky was no color at all.  Purple shadows were gathering over the land, and the wind was mourning. 

Pa stopped the mustangs.  He and Ma got out of the wagon to make camp, and Mary and Laura climbed down to the ground, too.  “Oh, Ma,” Laura begged, “Jack has gone to heaven, hasn’t he?  He was such a good dog, can’t he go to heaven?”

Ma did not know what to answer, but Pa said: “Yes, Laura, he can.  God that doesn’t forget the sparrows won’t leave a good dog like Jack out in the cold.”

Laura felt only a little better.  She was not happy.  Pa did not whistle about his work as usual, and after a while he said, “And what we’ll do in a wild country without a good watchdog I don’t know.” 

Laura Ingalls Wilder, Little House on the Prairie (Harper Collins, 2004).