Did you know that Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House books were based on her real family and life experiences?  That got us curious: Who exactly were the people behind the famous writer and her husband Almanzo?  

The Wilder Family
1871

The Wilder family around 1871

Let's start with Almanzo's family.  This is the earliest picture we have of the Wilders, and you can see a young Almanzo (who was born in 1857) in the back, second from the left.  He was the fifth of six children born to James and Angeline Day Wilder, both of whom were farmers.  They were fairly well-established in Malone, New York until 1870 when crop failures prompted them to move west to settle in Minnesota.  Almanzo and his brother would later move to De Smet, South Dakota in the early 1880s to expand their farming operations.  

And wouldn't you know it -- guess who else had recently moved to De Smet, South Dakota?  That's right, Laura Ingalls!  Hit "Next Photo" for the rest of the story...

 

We've scoured the web to try to find a better quality picture, but here we see the family of Lansford Ingalls, Laura's grandfather.  Lansford was born in Quebec and was a direct descendent of a passenger on the Mayflower.  In the 1840's, he moved his growing family to a little town just west of Elgin, Illinois. 

Laura Ingalls father, Charles, had already moved farther West when this photo was taken.  There, he would meet the "quiet and proper" Caroline Lake Quiner.

 

Charles and Caroline Ingalls, the original "Ma" and "Pa" from Little House on the Prairie, on their wedding day on February 1, 1860.  They would ultimately move many times over the next thirty years and have five children:  Mary, Laura, Carrie, Charles (died in infancy), and Grace.  Hit "Next Photo" below to go to the next page! 

Here we see a better picture of "Ma and Pa" Ingalls in 1879, right after he accepted a railroad job in the eastern Dakota Territory.  He would file a formal homestead request later that winter for land in De Smet, South Dakota, and the entire family would be moved there by 1880.  

 

Laura and Almanzo in their first year of marriage, likely 1885 or 1886. 

 

 



Almanzo and his two brothers, Perley and Royal in 1890.  

 

The Ingalls family in 1891.  From left to right:  Caroline ("Ma"), Carrie, Laura, Charles ("Pa"), Grace, and Mary.  

 

Meanwhile, Almanzo's father and much of his family had decided to move down to Louisiana.  This photo is of Almanzo's parents at a family event.

 



Laura Ingalls Wilder in 1891 while working in De Smet
1891

Laura Ingalls Wilder in 1891 while working in De Smet.  She had given birth to a daughter, Rose, five years earlier in 1886.

 

In 1894, the young family pulled up its roots and moved to Mansfield, Missouri.  Almanzo put down money to buy a small farm that would later become Rocky Ridge Farm.  While they planted the land, they stayed in this small rented house in town, as seen in this 1898 photo.

 

The Rocky Ridge home, was ultimately completed in 1910 and the family moved there full time.  We believe this photo is from around 1915.  

 



1929 Laura Ingalls Wilder and Amanzo visiting with neighbors on their back porch.

 

Their daughter, Rose, became a prominent writer even before her mother picked up a pen.  She spent a few years with her parents there on the farm, as seen in this photo. 

 

The happy couple in the 1940's after spending so many happy years on the farm.  By this time, Laura's books were hits and the family lived a very prosperous life.  

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