A long time ago, when all the grandfathers and grandmothers of today were little boys and little girls or very small babies, or perhaps not even born, Pa and Ma and Mary and Laura and Baby Carrie left their little house in the Big Woods of Wisconsin. They drove away and left it lonely and empty in the clearing among the big trees, and they never saw that little house again.
— Little House on the Prairie
Laura Ingalls Wilder
The opening and settlement of the Wild West spring to life in Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House books. They describe vividly the experiences of a warm-hearted, hard-working woman who grew up in the often dangerous, sometimes humorous, always demanding world that was the pioneer West.
Mrs. Wilder was born in 1867 in a small log cabin on the edge of Wisconsin's Big Woods. Her father decided to leave this beautiful area because he felt there were too many people living nearby. They would move to the West where the land was level, there were no trees, and the grass grew thick and high.
The family packed nearly everything they owned into a covered wagon and set off. After many days' travel, they finally found a spot suitable for building a log cabin. Later, the family would again pull up its roots and journey through Minnesota and Dakota Territory.
In the Dakotas, Laura met Almanzo Wilder. Their meeting is described in Farmer Boy. Another book, These Happy Golden Years, covers the Wilders' courtship and marriage. The birth of their daughter, Rose, and their early years on a homestead are detailed in The First Four Years.
The Wilders moved to a farm in Mansfield, Missouri, in 1894. Mrs. Wilder lived on the farm until 1957, when she died at the age of 90.
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