Laura Ingalls Wilder

Laura Elizabeth Ingalls Wilder died on February 10, 1957 at the age of 90. She was born on February 7, 1867.During her lifetime she traversed the country by horse and wagon, survived the long winter of 1880-1881 in Dakota Territory, farmed with her family, taught school at age 15, lived during (what we call) the pioneer days, and saw modern America develop. From horses and mail by ponies and trains to automobiles, electricity, planes, and television – Laura lived a fascinating life. Her books have never been out of print and they continue to delight and educate readers all over the world.
I began reading the Little House books around the age of 11, because my mom brought one home from the library and told me that I’d probably like it. I did. And I read those books as fast as I was able. In fact, in sixth grade I won the award for having read the most books in my class. Throughout middle school and high school I read every biography about Laura and every series of books about Laura and her relatives. I couldn’t call myself an expert, but I absorbed and remembered much more about Laura’s life than the average Little House viewer.

Before Laura Ingalls Wilder, I adored the American Girls series and the Dear America series, as I have mentioned here. I imagine that reading this historical fiction combined with my mother’s adoration of abandoned buildings, set me on the path to historic preservation.And becoming so enamored with and intrigued by Laura Ingalls Wilder’s life gave me someone I still call my role model / idol / hero.Life would not be the same without Laura Ingalls.

Who is your idol in American history?Is this a part of the reason you became so interested in history and historic preservation?

For those who enjoy historical figures, historic sites, and road trips – here are a few of Laura’s houses.

Little House on the Prairie. The log cabin reconstruction of the Ingalls' home in Indian Territory near Independence, Kansas.

Little House on the Prairie. The log cabin reconstruction of the Ingalls’ home in Indian Territory near Independence, Kansas.

The Surveyor's House in Dakota Territory.

The Ingalls' house in the town of De Smet.

Rocky Ridge Farm, Mansfield, MO - home of Laura and Almanzo Wilder.

The Rock House on Rocky Ridge Farm.