A letter to ALL of Laura Ingalls Wilder Fan's from Laura!
I was born in the "Little House in
the Big Woods" of Wisconsin on February 7 in the year of 1867. I lived
everything that happened in my books. It is a long story, filled with
sunshine and shadow ...
After our marriage Almanzo and I lived for a little while in the little gray house on the tree claim. In the year 1894 we and our little daughter, Rose, left Dakota in a covered wagon and moved to a farm in the Ozarks. We cleared the land and built our own farmhouse. Eventually we had 200 acres of improved land, a herd of cows, good hogs, and the best laying flock of hens in the country. For many years we did all our own work, but now almost all of the land has been rented or sold. For recreation we used to ride horseback or in our buggy -- later on, our Chrysler. We read and played music and attended church socials. In 1949 Almanzo died at the age of 92. We had been married for 63 years.
You may be interested to know what happened to some of the other people you met in my books. Ma and Pa lived for a while on their homestead and then moved into town, where Pa did carpentry. After Mary graduated from the College for the Blind, she lived at home. She was always cheerful and busy with her work, her books, and music. Carrie worked for The De Smet News for a while after finishing high school, and then she married a mine owner and moved to the Black Hills. Grace married a farmer and lived a few miles outside of De Smet.
Mary Power married the young banker and did not live many years. Ida married her Elmer and moved to California. Cap Garland was killed in the explosion of a threshing machine engine. Nellie Oleson went East, married, and moved to Louisiana.
Several years before Almanzo's death, he and I took a trip back to De Smet for a reunion with our old friends. Many of the buildings had been replaced. Everywhere we went, we recognized faces, but we were always surprised to find them old and gray like ourselves, instead of being young as in our memories. There is one thing that will always remain the same to remind people of little Laura's days on the prairie, and that is Pa's fiddle.
The Little House books are stories of long ago. Today our way of living and our schools are much different; so many things have made living and learning easier. But the real things haven't changed. It is still best to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasures and to be cheerful and have courage when things go wrong. Great improvements in living have been made because every American has always been free to pursue his happiness, and so long as Americans are free, they will continue to make our country ever more wonderful.
With love to you all and best wishes for your happiness, I am
Sincerely, your friend,