This Tuesday marks the 150th birthday of Laura Ingalls Wilder.
Throughout the month of February, all over the world, there are celebrations being planned in her honor.
All of the individuals or organizations planning such events would each probably give you a very different reason as to why they want to acknowledge and celebrate her life.
A common theme tends to be how Laura, despite facing many difficult obstacles in her life, chose to persevere. It is this perseverance, as well as her everlasting hope and faith, that has inspired millions.
It amazing to think that just one baby born in a log cabin in the big woods of Wisconsin on February 7th, 1867 could inspire such celebrations. There are no photos of Laura as an infant or small child to document her birth. The first glimpse of Laura is around the age of fifteen.
She was pictured alongside her sisters, Carrie and Mary, around 1882. By the time this photo was taken the family had moved numerous times, lost their home in Kansas, been bankrupt, baby brother Freddie had passed away in 1876 at age 9 months and Mary had lost her sight in 1879 due to illness. They had moved to the town of De Smet in Dakota Territory in 1880 hoping to make a fresh start. Their first year there was marked by hunger and bitter cold from unrelenting blizzards. Laura would earn her teaching degree the same year this photo was taken. Most of her earnings would be given to help support her family.
We next see Laura in 1884 at the age of 17. During the week she lived 12 miles away from her family in order to teach school. Almanzo Wilder, a bachelor 10 years older, began to court Laura in earnest and would make the long horse and buggy journey to bring Laura back home on the weekends.
Laura and Almanzo would marry soon after Laura turned eighteen in 1885. Their daughter, Rose, would be born the following year in 1886.
The three years after that would be filled with disaster and heartbreak. Almanzo fell ill from diphtheria and became partially paralyzed. Laura would give birth to a son in August of 1889 and he would pass away at just two weeks old. A few weeks later their home would burn to the ground and all of the crops would be lost to drought. This resulted in the family moving to Spring Valley, Minnesota to live with Almanzo’s family.
Laura would return to take a photo with her family in 1891.
From left to right: Caroline, Carrie, Laura, Charles, Grace, and Mary.
She also posed for a single portrait during this same session.
Shortly after she, Almanzo and Rose moved from Minnesota to Florida in October. They were hopeful that the warmer climate would restore Almanzo’s health and lead to better farming opportunities. The move was another failure. They would return to De Smet, South Dakota in August of 1892.
In July of 1894 the family would travel over 600 miles, by horse and buggy, to Mansfield, Missouri. Laura hid all of their money in a lap desk and never let it out of her sight the entire journey. The $100 went towards a down payment to buy 40 acres of rocky land that Laura would name “Rocky Ridge Farm”.
They could not afford to build a home so Almanzo’s parents first rented, then bought them, a small home in town. Almanzo quickly planted 400 apple trees on their farm, however it would be seven years before the trees would begin to bear fruit. The family survived by Laura taking in boarders and Almanzo selling firewood and hauling wagon loads for others.
Laura was 33 when this photo was taken of her at Rocky Ridge in 1900. By then the farm was fairly prosperous.
In 1906 Laura would travel to Kansas City to see her daughter Rose who was swiftly becoming an esteemed author in her own right. While there Laura struck a jaunty pose.
By 1918, Laura aged 51, had been writing for the “Missouri Ruralist” for seven years. She ultimately became an editor.
In 1929 the Stock Market Crash led the Wilders to financial ruin. Rose, who was now the highest paid female reporter of the time, encouraged her mother to write down some of her childhood memories. Laura had already been writing the basis of what would become “Pioneer Girl”. However Rose and her publisher suggested a happier story. Laura then wrote “Little House in the Big Woods”. It was published in 1932.
Despite the Depression, the book became a huge success.
Laura in 1937.
The Wilder’s lived for a few years in the “Rock House” that their daughter had built for them. It featured all of the most modern conveniences and luxuries of the day.
But in 1936 they opted to return to the simple life offered at their beloved Rocky Ridge Farm.
Laura continued to write down the memories of her childhood.
There were a total of eight “Little House” books in the series.
While carloads of fans would often show up at the farm to visit, Laura and Almanzo continued to live very simply.
Almanzo passed away at the age of 92 in 1949.
Laura continued to live at the farm with her friends often looking in on her. She would pass away at the age of 90 on February 10th, 1957.
Despite a lifetime full of hardship and adversity Laura never lost her faith. This is what inspires me most about her.
Laura regularly read and wrote in her bible. You can find her written references HERE.
Laura in 1953.
The reference sheet of verses was found in Laura’s King James Bible placed next to her rocker.
This week Decor To Adore will be celebrating Laura’s birthday in a variety of ways. Come back tomorrow for a TOWN party inspired by Nellie Oleson.
Please enjoy all of the other posts in the “Little House” series.
Little House ~ Laura’s Patchwork Napkins
Little House ~ DIY Throw Pillows
Little House ~ Christmas Tree and Decor
Laura’s Log Cabin Tablecloth DIY
Laura’s Gingerbread Log Cabin
Laura’s Red Mitten Garland