|Laura Ingalls Wilder gave the world a remarkable gift in her series of nine “Little House” books. Those tales of her pioneering past have entertained and inspired readers for many years and in many countries. Her books were all published by Harper and Row and include: “Little House in the Big Woods” 1932; “Little House on the Prairie” 1935, “Farmer Boy” 1933, “On the Banks of Plum Creek” 1937, “By the Shores of Silver Lake” 1939, “The Long Winter” 1940, “Little Town on the Prairie” 1941, “These Happy Golden Years” 1943, “On the Way Home” 1962 and “West From Home” 1973.
Five of these books were written about Wilder’s time in DeSmet, SD where she lived with her family and met her husband Almanzo Wilder. Her books were the basis for the television shows “Little House on the Prairie.” Her books speak for themselves in their scope and value, and have done probably more than any other author’s work to instill knowledge and pride of the pioneer heritage in children and adults.
Laura Elizabeth Ingalls Wilder was born in Pepin, WI in 1867, to Charles and Caroline Ingalls. As a child, she attended country schools in Minnesota, Iowa and South Dakota. She never graduated from High School. The Ingalls family was the first to settle in the town of DeSmet, SD. Here, at the age of 15, Laura taught rural school. DeSmet is also where she met Almanzo Wilder; they were married August 25, 1885.
In 1894, Almanzo and Laura, along with their baby, Rose, left DeSmet, headed for southern Missouri. They settled on a farm in the beautiful Ozark Hills. They called the farm “Rocky Ridge Farm.” After a few years, the Wilders had saved enough to rent a house in the town of Mansfield. Almanzo walked to the farm every day. The Wilder’s built the Rocky Ridge Farm into a completely modern dairy farm of 200 acres. Almanzo Wilder passed away in 1949 at the age of 92, but Laura continued to live on their farm until her passing in 1957. The Wilder’s only daughter, Rose Wilder Lane became a popular novelist.
The Wilder’s had many struggles throughout their lives. Some of the most devastating were in South Dakota, early in their marriage. Others were later, as they were raising their child. Despite all the struggles, the Wilder’s succeeded in life and the struggles gave Laura Ingalls Wilder the inspiration to write her children’s books.
For Laura Ingalls Wilder’s writings she was awarded the:
Harry Hartman Award (Pacific N.W. Library Association) 1942
New York Herald Tribune Spring Book Festival Award 1943
Hobby Horse Award 1947
Elected favorite living author of Chicago children 1947
List of Cities with libraries dedicated in her honor:
Detroit, MI, 1949
Pomona, CA, 1950
Mansfield, MO 1951