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Old 06-03-2012, 11:29 PM
Drum God Drum God is offline
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How was the Ingalls family affected by the US Civil War?

This afternoon, my wife had an episode of Little House on the Prairie on TV. Mary and Laura were telling Pa of an exciting celebration at school - the US Centennial. Naturally, this would be in 1876. According to Wikipedia, Charles Ingalls (Pa) would have been 24 years old in 1860. The Wiki article doesn't mention the Civil War at all. Did Charles serve? Would a frontier family living in Wisconsin, Kansas, Minnesota, Iowa, and North Dakota been affected by the War Between the States? I have not read the books, but I don't remember the TV show ever mentioning Civil War veterans or any sort of aftermath of the conflict. Did Laura mention it at all in her books?
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Old 06-03-2012, 11:41 PM
RickJay RickJay is offline
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The record suggests they were effectively uninvolved in the war. Charles and Caroline Ingalls were married in 1860 and almost immediately embarked on a program of moving from place to place that went on for years. He seems to have escaped service by being perpetually on the physical fringe of what constituted "America." It's hard to prove, because they were married before the war started and did not have a child until 1865 so, who, knows, maybe he put in some time, but there's no record of it happening and it's inconsistent with his character.

Whether that was his intent or not I don't know, but doubt. Charles Ingalls was determined to be a pioneer, or a settler or whatever you'd call him, and the Homestead Act of 1862 encouraged Americans by the thousands to pick up stakes and march westward - clearly it was not the intent of the federal government to have EVERY man in hte service if they were simultaneously telling the more motivated and brave among them to go start a farm out west. To a lot of Americans the Civil War was a distant thing in thought and geography.

His brother in law, Joseph, was killed at Shiloh.

Last edited by RickJay; 06-03-2012 at 11:46 PM.
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Old 06-04-2012, 12:13 AM
Blake Blake is offline
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His brother in law, Joseph, was killed at Shiloh.
Was that his wife's brother, or his sister's husband?
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Old 06-04-2012, 12:18 AM
Inner Stickler Inner Stickler is offline
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Caroline's brother. His name was Joseph Quiner.
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Old 06-04-2012, 12:25 AM
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Old 06-04-2012, 12:29 AM
GreasyJack GreasyJack is offline
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Another issue was that the Native Americans in Minnesota and Iowa had only recently been subdued and put on reservations and there were still free-roaming Natives in the western plains territories. The federal government pulled most of its troops out of the plains and sent them east to fight the war, so militias composed of local men were expected to fill in. The Federal government definitely preferred to keep able-bodied men out maintaining their tenuous hold on the plains instead of packing them off as cannon fodder in the east.
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Old 06-04-2012, 12:31 AM
gkster gkster is offline
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Originally Posted by Drum God View Post
I have not read the books, but I don't remember the TV show ever mentioning Civil War veterans or any sort of aftermath of the conflict. Did Laura mention it at all in her books?
In Little House in the Big Woods, there's "Uncle George" Ingalls who is supposed to have run away to serve as a drummer boy and has come back "wild", scary--at a family dance Laura is afraid of his crazy behavior, maybe he has PTSD. This site gives quotes from the book, her memoir and some commentary:

"Uncle George was the one Laura was afraid of in "Little House in the Big Woods" because everyone said he was a 'wild man.' "Uncle George had run away to be a drummer boy in the army, when he was fourteen years old," Laura said. In "Pioneer Girl," her unpublished memoirs, she added, "Afterward Uncle George stole a cow and was arrested... Pa said, What could you expect of a boy who had joined the army when he was fourteen, and lived off the country all those years? In the South, when the Union soldiers wanted anything they just took it, and George had got used to that way of doing. All that was wrong with George was that he couldn't seem to realize the war was over and that he was in the North, where he couldn't live off the country any more."Civil War service records from Ancestry.com also indicate that George may have deserted the army. The enlistment information matches, but his middle initial is given as "A"."
http://www.dahoudek.com/LIW/family/aqwg06.aspx (scroll down to "George Whiting Ingalls")

Here's an interesting reflection about the absence of the Civil War in the books:

"So the Great Depression runs through Little House in the Big Woods like a big three-hearted river.

Perhaps most striking, however, is that the book’s central theme is made most conspicuous not through the events and details described in its pages but by the things that aren’t there.

There’s no Depression in the Big Woods. There’s no sign that the Civil War was less than a decade in the nation’s rearview (aside from one minor character, Uncle George, who ran off to be a drummer boy and came home “wild”). There are no banks. There isn’t even a cash economy: A description of the family’s visit to the store in town depicts a dazzling oasis of consumerism, but Pa pays for the calico and the sugar in trade, with bear and wolf pelts. There’s no government. In fact, a government would seem superfluous. No need for police or courts, because everyone gets along. The Ingallses have everything they need thanks to Pa’s seemingly limitless frontiersman skills and Ma’s “Scottish ingenuity” on the domestic front."

http://longreads.tumblr.com/post/135...h-little-house

But according to this other site the historical records don't support this story:
http://www.pioneergirl.com/index.htm....htm&Bot_Frame

Last edited by gkster; 06-04-2012 at 12:36 AM.
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Old 06-04-2012, 03:15 AM
choie choie is offline
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Okay, obsessive Little House fan here.

Charles was too busy being a frontiersman/pioneer to join the army. In the late 1850s, his father had run up debts by borrowing $500 from some rich Eastern dude, an enormous sum back then, and promised to pay it all back within three years, which... didn't happen. When the money came due, the courts naturally sided with the other party, and all of Charles's father's land was auctioned off to pay the balance off.

This was not too long before Charles married Caroline Quiner. (Actually the Ingalls and Quiner families were interconnected -- several Ingalls siblings married Quiner siblings, so the family tree is pretty tightly enmeshed.) Anyway, after Laura's grandfather's land was sold off to pay his debts, he came up with the idea to move to new, virgin territory where they could stake out their own claim themselves. Charles & Caroline and their intermarried brothers- and sisters-in-law went along with them and that's how they all ended up in the Big Woods of Wisconsin.

This would've been in the early 1860s, and they spent their time building cabins for themselves and their in-laws, chopping wood, hunting, foraging, growing what crops they could after creating a clearing big enough to grow food. Mary was born in 1865, and Laura in 1867. What would Ma have done if Charles had gone away to what would have seemed a very distant war?

However, Charles's two younger brothers, Hiram and James, ran away to join the war in 1865 (nearly missing the whole thing!); they fought in Minnesota's 1st Regiment of Heavy Artillery. Their father followed them, furious, because he argued James (19 at the time) was too young to join in the first place. Didn't work, and James stayed. Luckily both made it home when the war was through.

Quote:
There’s no Depression in the Big Woods. There’s no sign that the Civil War was less than a decade in the nation’s rearview (aside from one minor character, Uncle George, who ran off to be a drummer boy and came home “wild”). There are no banks. There isn’t even a cash economy: A description of the family’s visit to the store in town depicts a dazzling oasis of consumerism, but Pa pays for the calico and the sugar in trade, with bear and wolf pelts. There’s no government. In fact, a government would seem superfluous. No need for police or courts, because everyone gets along. The Ingallses have everything they need thanks to Pa’s seemingly limitless frontiersman skills and Ma’s “Scottish ingenuity” on the domestic front."
I can't tell if that tumblr quote is talking only about Little House in the Big Woods or about the Little House books in general. If it's the latter, then much of this is balderdash. Firstly, Big Woods is written for very young children, and is almost plotless, simply a telling of a year in the life of a frontier family. We learn how Pa sets traps and makes bullets, and how to slaughter a pig (including roasting its tail and using its bladder as a balloon!), and about playing in the attic among the stored vegetables with their dolls (Laura's doll being only a corncob with a blanket over it, named Susan), and Pa telling stories about when he was a naughty little boy, and Laura hating observing the boring Sunday sabbath traditionals where she couldn't do anything but play quietly with her paper dolls, not even allowed to make new clothes for them since that would be considered "work" (very Old Testamenty!)and so on. But there are fun times with going to "Sugaring Off" dances when the maple sap rises and it's time to harvest it into maple syrup and sugar.

(One historical note: baby Carrie, though she's shown in Big Woods, was actually not born at this point.)

As the books go on and Laura grows older, so too does the text become less "Here's what frontier life is like, children," and more descriptive and honest about the rigors and difficulties of pioneer life. It's a series that grows up with the protagonist, and the readers are seemingly intended to grow up alongside Laura as well. The books deal with more and more serious issues as time goes on.

Starting with Little House on the Prairie there are numerous indications of the difficult times the Ingallses and their neighbors are having, not just with poverty due to poor harvests (destroyed by weather, fires, blackbirds, and grasshoppers) but due to the government supposedly allowing them to settle in "Indian Territory," then making an agreement with the Native Americans to push the settlers out or have soldiers arrest them. Pa chooses to move on. In that same book, Laura and Mary receive a penny each for their Christmas gifts (along with a tin cup of their very own -- they'd had to share before -- and a candy cane). When Native Americans enter the house when Pa isn't home, they nearly take all the fur pelts Pa's gained from his numerous traps, and Ma exclaims with relief that the Indians didn't take their plow and seeds for next year. Pa is buying things such as glass windows on credit, assuming there'll be a great crop to pay for their new house. But they're pushed off the land just as the crop begins to recover from a prairie fire.

By On the Banks of Plum Creek the kids used dimes to purchase slates for use in school, and rather than asking their parents for the extra money necessary for a slate pencil (chalk), they spend Mary's Christmas penny. (They agree that Laura will now "own" half of Mary's penny.) Here's where the grasshoppers ruin their crop, and Pa (and most of the men) must walk 200 miles to find work and send cash home to his family. So there's some money and commerce talk here, as might be expected in a more settled area. Still, the kids are kids, and the book focuses more on the new experiences of living in a dugout (a home literally dug out from a hillside, basically a glorified cave but with more trappings of home), raising cattle, going to school for the first time, dealing with that bitch Nellie Olson (a compilation character created from a few different rivals the real Laura knew), and especialy dealing with the absence of their father and the sadness as he walked hundreds of miles to find work. (No hint of the Depression indeed!)

By the Shores of Silver Lake introduces still more issues rife with Depression themes of poverty and government assistance, or lack thereof. The Ingalls begin the book weary, sad, poor and worrying about doctor bills due to most of the family having been sick and unable to eke out a decent crop or even hunting from the land. Mary's blind due to Scarlet Fever that swept through the family, and there's a new baby Grace and mouth to feed.

(Real life note: LIW skips over the family's move from Plum Creek to Burr Oak, where they helped run a hotel. The chief reason for this seems to be the birth and, less than a year later, death, of her brother Charles Frederick "Freddie." Grace was born a year later. Also during this time is when Mary had an unknown sort of fever that led to a stroke that affected her eyesight -- this doesn't seem to have been scarlet fever, which the children actually had way back in their time in the Big Woods.)

Pa is unhappy where they're living, because as I said, the land is now over-settled and there's no hunting to be found. Pa leaps at the chance to earn a salary as the manager of a Railroad company's store, and there's certainly a lot of talk about money and the government, particularly the Homestead Act mentioned above, because Pa's job with the railroad is only temporary; he's hoping to take the government up on the offer of a claim as long as he can live on the land for five years. He calls it a "bet" with Uncle Sam, and even though his wandering soul would eventually wish to fly Westward before he wins that bet, his promise to Ma -- that this would be their last move so the girls would get steady schooling -- keeps him settled.

Since the new town being built around the railroad (De Smet, South Dakota) is literally brand new, there's no sheriff or law to speak of, a fact mentioned several times due to horse stealing and a few mob efforts to raid the company store when the railroad company insists on paying its workers two weeks after the work is over, a fact the workers get pissed off with. Pa manages to stand down the mob with the help of a somewhat shady character called Big Jerry who, liking Pa, incites the mob to head on over to a different railroad manager nearby. This guy is actually nearly lynched, strung up a few times, and finally gives in and lets the mob take what they want from the store. Later, the lack of a real law presence is again brought up when one of their neighbors asks Pa to fake a legal writ demanding payment of a debt; another guy is dressed up pretending to be a lawman to intimidate the debtor. The ruse works.

The Long Winter (my favorite of the books) is the most Depression-laden book of the bunch, especially if you use the constant barrage of storms that almost break the Ingalls's spirit--and the unwillingness/inability of the government to get help to this tiny, isolated town--as an analogy for the lack of jobs and constant hunger of the poorest people during the Depression. Laura Ingalls Wider was sort of a proto-libertarian, a real do-it-yourself type, and didn't believe in relying on the government for help (perhaps because she hadn't seen it work first-hand), so many of the themes of her books are "paddle your own canoe" and "where there's a will there's a way" (both names of songs used in the books; often songs used are very intentionally chosen by the author).

Um, yeah. So a lot of this is just responding to the Tumblr thing. Sorry for the book report, heh. At least I hope the first few paragraphs answer the question about the Civil War.

Should mention that most of my knowledge comes from the Donald Zochert book Laura as well as the site Pioneer Girl., as well as some other research over the years. Plus, an obsessive rereading of these books every few years.

Last edited by choie; 06-04-2012 at 03:17 AM.
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Old 06-04-2012, 09:52 AM
Philster Philster is offline
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Choie: Good stuff indeed!
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Old 06-04-2012, 09:58 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Drum God View Post
I have not read the books, but I don't remember the TV show ever mentioning Civil War veterans or any sort of aftermath of the conflict.
Not necessarily relevant: There was one episode of the TV show that had the family inherit a large sum of money from a distant relative... only when they opened the trunk it was all in worthless Confederate bills.
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Old 06-04-2012, 10:28 AM
Kimballkid Kimballkid is offline
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and North Dakota
Just a minor nitpick, but since I do live about 20 miles away from the Little Town on the Prairie, it was South Dakota.
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Old 06-04-2012, 11:06 AM
Paul in Qatar Paul in Qatar is offline
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Just by the way, my Masonic Lodge (Plato 469) in Plato, Missouri is supposedly connected to all this. Legend is that our Order of the Eastern Star was established by the Little House ladies. Any idea if that is true?
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Old 06-04-2012, 12:01 PM
Drum God Drum God is offline
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Just a minor nitpick, but since I do live about 20 miles away from the Little Town on the Prairie, it was South Dakota.
Dang it! I knew that.
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Old 06-04-2012, 02:06 PM
gkster gkster is offline
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Just by the way, my Masonic Lodge (Plato 469) in Plato, Missouri is supposedly connected to all this. Legend is that our Order of the Eastern Star was established by the Little House ladies. Any idea if that is true?
According to John Miller, a historian who teaches at South Dakota State University in Brookings, Almanzo Wilder was a Mason and Laura was an officer in the Order of the Eastern Star when they lived in Mansfield, Missouri. Charles Ingalls was a Mason himself. Miller's book is Becoming Laura Ingalls Wilder: The Woman Behind the Legend (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1998) It doesn't say anything about the involvement of other women in the family--if by "ladies" you mean Laura herself, or Rose Wilder Lane, maybe they were involved in founding that lodge, possible since Mansfield is 45 miles from Plato, but surely all of the others lived too far away?

Here's a link to Google Books excerpts
http://books.google.com/books?id=p1O...20star&f=false

And a link to the family obituaries, which mention their Masonic ties. Caroline ("Ma") and Carrie were both active members of Eastern Star in South Dakota.
http://www.pioneerontheprairie.com/liw_history.htm
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Old 06-04-2012, 03:04 PM
gkster gkster is offline
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Originally Posted by choie View Post
Okay, obsessive Little House fan here.
snip
I can't tell if that tumblr quote is talking only about Little House in the Big Woods or about the Little House books in general.
snip

Um, yeah. So a lot of this is just responding to the Tumblr thing. Sorry for the book report, heh. At least I hope the first few paragraphs answer the question about the Civil War.

Should mention that most of my knowledge comes from the Donald Zochert book Laura as well as the site Pioneer Girl., as well as some other research over the years. Plus, an obsessive rereading of these books every few years.
It's supposed to refer to Little House in the Big Woods. Here's the source of the Tumblr quote, from a much longer article on the many ways in which the Depression contributed to the making of the Little House books--including Laura's and Rose Wilder Lane's libertarian beliefs.

http://www.riverfronttimes.com/2011-...-depression/3/

I enjoyed your post, which was much more than a book report--and a good reminder that it's been several years since I read the books, time to read them again!

Last edited by gkster; 06-04-2012 at 03:07 PM.
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Old 06-04-2012, 03:31 PM
Qadgop the Mercotan Qadgop the Mercotan is offline
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choie, that was brilliant, insightful, and spot on! But you seem a little obsessed with that series of books. You'd never catch me getting that immersed in any author's works.



well, maybe a little...

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Old 06-04-2012, 08:53 PM
Toucanna Toucanna is offline
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@choie: I never had an interest in reading the books or watching the show, but your "book report" let me know I've been missing some interesting reading. Thanks for posting that!
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Old 06-05-2012, 11:02 AM
The Man In Black The Man In Black is offline
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After reading Choie's essay, I had the urge to read the books. I know my sister had them when she was a kid, and asked if she still had them. She said she wasn't sure if she gave them away or not, but she said they were very much books for small children. Is the set something an adult would find interesting?

I always liked Little House, and have the first few seasons of the series plus the mini series they made a few years ago on DVD. I am very interested in reading about life back then and what they went through in there travels. But if they are written for little kids, I don;t know if it will hold my interest.
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Old 06-05-2012, 11:08 AM
Inner Stickler Inner Stickler is offline
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They get more adult as you go along. Admittedly, I haven't read them in ages. (I was probably in middle school the last time I read them.) They're also really quick reads if you're an adult. I would recommend working one in between other books you're reading.


(I hated The Long Winter as a kid because it was so damn depressing. Pa was like the original Bad Luck Brian, he just couldn't catch a break. I would get so angry when he'd lose another crop. I still feel animosity toward hail.)
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Old 06-05-2012, 11:12 AM
Hello Again Hello Again is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Man In Black View Post
After reading Choie's essay, I had the urge to read the books. I know my sister had them when she was a kid, and asked if she still had them. She said she wasn't sure if she gave them away or not, but she said they were very much books for small children. Is the set something an adult would find interesting?
I read them for the first time when I was about 30. It's true they are quite simplistic as to character/motivations, because of being told from a child's point of view but they aren't little kids picture books, and real, bad things happen with frequency. Personally "Farmer Boy" which is about Almonzo's childhood in upstate New York, was my favorite. But I would call them all enjoyable, quick reads for an adult.

Also, you'll probably want to smack Pa. I don't know anyone who read the books for the first time as an adult, who didn't want to smack some sense into Pa.
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Old 06-05-2012, 11:52 AM
Kimballkid Kimballkid is offline
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Originally Posted by The Man In Black View Post
After reading Choie's essay, I had the urge to read the books. I know my sister had them when she was a kid, and asked if she still had them. She said she wasn't sure if she gave them away or not, but she said they were very much books for small children. Is the set something an adult would find interesting?

I always liked Little House, and have the first few seasons of the series plus the mini series they made a few years ago on DVD. I am very interested in reading about life back then and what they went through in there travels. But if they are written for little kids, I don;t know if it will hold my interest.
If you want to read something a little more adult about that time period, read 'Giants in the Earth' by Ole Rolvaag.
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Old 06-05-2012, 12:30 PM
RachelChristine RachelChristine is offline
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I'm going to Laurapalooza this year at Minnesota State University in Mankato. I am so excited! I went to the planning meetings for the first one two years ago (I was the babysitter for the board members), but wasn't able to make it to the conference itself. http://beyondlittlehouse.com/laurapalooza-2012/

I love the Ingalls' story so much and have been researching their family for years!
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Old 06-05-2012, 03:21 PM
Lynn Bodoni Lynn Bodoni is offline
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I read them for the first time when I was about 30. It's true they are quite simplistic as to character/motivations, because of being told from a child's point of view but they aren't little kids picture books, and real, bad things happen with frequency. Personally "Farmer Boy" which is about Almonzo's childhood in upstate New York, was my favorite. But I would call them all enjoyable, quick reads for an adult.

Also, you'll probably want to smack Pa. I don't know anyone who read the books for the first time as an adult, who didn't want to smack some sense into Pa.
When I was in grade school, the teachers would read various Little House books to the class, and I found them to be rather boring.

However, I picked up the first one on a clearance rack a few years ago. I was amazed. The difference is, I can appreciate what the people in the books went through now that I'm an adult. The writing and characterization are simplistic, but I've found that the books hold my attention now. It's interesting to see how the American culture has changed in such a short time.

And yes, I want to smack Pa, even though I was exposed to the books as a kid. I keep wanting to shake him and tell him to stick with a place long enough to start getting some return on his work.

I've also wanted to smack Ma a couple of times, especially when Ma clearly favors her blonde, blue eyed daughter over her brunette daughter. But Ma does praise Laura for quickly obeying her when they encounter a bear, and for quick thinking when a fire starts in the cabin.
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Old 06-05-2012, 03:27 PM
Inner Stickler Inner Stickler is offline
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I disagree that they're simplistic. They're definitely simple and necessarily so, but they're not simplistic.
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Old 06-05-2012, 03:57 PM
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I'd agree that adults can definitely enjoy them. I think they do a wonderful job of accurately representing a child's point of view, in limited third-person, with the many things that entails. It especially entails that you will not see Pa as the hero he is to Laura through most of the series.

As an adult, the one thing I noticed above all else that I hadn't noticed as a kid was the casual racism towards American Indians, what with the whole Manifest Destiny-ish theme. It jumps out and smacks me in the face as an adult.
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Old 06-05-2012, 04:57 PM
Bridget Burke Bridget Burke is offline
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Quote:
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@choie: I never had an interest in reading the books or watching the show, but your "book report" let me know I've been missing some interesting reading. Thanks for posting that!
I grew up reading the books & haven't revisited them. (I left home before my sister & she got the collection!) It might be time to give them another look.

However, I would advise against watching the show. I think I only saw part of an episode, but Little Joe is not Pa!
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Old 06-05-2012, 05:17 PM
Mr. Miskatonic Mr. Miskatonic is online now
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Ummm, is it the Great Depression or the Long Depression? I was under the impression the latter was happening during the Little House books. Great Depression coming almost 60 years later.
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Old 06-05-2012, 05:51 PM
IvoryTowerDenizen IvoryTowerDenizen is offline
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Choie: Good stuff indeed!
Choie et al: ever read The Wilder Life?

http://www.amazon.com/The-Wilder-Lif...932995&sr=8-19

Fascinating read for fans of the real Laura (rather than the TV show)
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Old 06-05-2012, 05:54 PM
BrotherCadfael BrotherCadfael is offline
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In this thread, I noted the following:

Quote:
Originally Posted by BrotherCadfael
I don't know that I would characterize the original books as "cheered up and sanitized", though.
In Little House on the Prairie the family nearly dies from malaria, and are nearly wiped out by local Indians.

In By the Banks of Plum Creek they nearly freeze to death during the winter, and their farm is destroyed by locusts.

In By the Shores of Silver Lake a neighbor girl is married off unwillingly at age 13.

In The Long Winter, they nearly starve to death. In the scene where Charles buys the hidden wheat from the Wilder brothers the effects of his malnutrition are described quite clearly.

In Little Town on the Prarie there are confrontations with drunken railroad workers.

In These Happy Golden Years Laura witnesses a crazed woman threatening her husband with a knife.

In The First Four Years she has a stillborn baby. [ETA: Not stillborn, but died in very early infancy]
Pretty grim, no? But these books show life on the frontier. As seen through a child's eyes, yes, but hardly "sanitized".


Does anyone else get the impression that Charles Ingalls failed at pretty much everything he tried?

Last edited by BrotherCadfael; 06-05-2012 at 05:55 PM. Reason: Added minor factual correction
  #30  
Old 06-05-2012, 05:58 PM
Nawth Chucka Nawth Chucka is offline
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Originally Posted by IvoryTowerDenizen View Post
Choie et al: ever read The Wilder Life?

http://www.amazon.com/The-Wilder-Lif...932995&sr=8-19

Fascinating read for fans of the real Laura (rather than the TV show)
I just finished that last weekend! Excellent book, fascinating read.
  #31  
Old 06-05-2012, 06:02 PM
IvoryTowerDenizen IvoryTowerDenizen is offline
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Originally Posted by Nawth Chucka View Post
I just finished that last weekend! Excellent book, fascinating read.
The weekend with the survivalists was great...
  #32  
Old 06-05-2012, 06:27 PM
Nawth Chucka Nawth Chucka is offline
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Originally Posted by IvoryTowerDenizen View Post
The weekend with the survivalists was great...
The end-timers, yes! Her poor hubby..
Ironically enough (for those who've read The Wilder Life), my husband got into the Little House books this past Christmas. I asked for them on my wishlist and he hid them when they came to the house; but not before flipping through them and saying to himself, "Why didn't anyone give these to ME when I was a kid??" Though they're written from a girl's POV I feel they're perfect for boys, too.
Now we share the set.
  #33  
Old 06-06-2012, 03:31 PM
AuntiePam AuntiePam is offline
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This is fascinating!

I read the Little House books as a child, well before the TV show. I thought Laura was lucky, because of all the moving. I've always loved new places, a different house (even if it was a dump), new neighbors. So I didn't think "Hard times, another failure, so sad" but "Yay, Laura gets to see another new place!"
  #34  
Old 06-06-2012, 09:10 PM
skdo23 skdo23 is offline
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While never a big fan, I seem to recall an episode of the show that included a heated argument between one of the sisters and another student over the merits of each side and I believe that the Ingalls sister was actually arguing in favor of the Confederacy (or maybe just that the Union did not have a clear moral authority, as I recall the other student had lost a father or brother who fought for the Union, and viewed the conflict in terms of black and white). However, I wouldn't put too much stock in anything from the TV show. As another thread points out, among other things, one episode implied that Colonel Sanders (who wasn't even born until 1890) traveled to Walnut Grove to buy Nellie's Restaurant and turn it into a franchise.

Last edited by skdo23; 06-06-2012 at 09:13 PM.
  #35  
Old 06-07-2012, 12:31 AM
outlierrn outlierrn is offline
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Originally Posted by skdo23 View Post
While never a big fan, I seem to recall an episode of the show that included a heated argument between one of the sisters and another student over the merits of each side and I believe that the Ingalls sister was actually arguing in favor of the Confederacy (or maybe just that the Union did not have a clear moral authority, as I recall the other student had lost a father or brother who fought for the Union, and viewed the conflict in terms of black and white). However, I wouldn't put too much stock in anything from the TV show. As another thread points out, among other things, one episode implied that Colonel Sanders (who wasn't even born until 1890) traveled to Walnut Grove to buy Nellie's Restaurant and turn it into a franchise.
I came in to post about that episode. If memory serves, the girls had come across the James bros. holed up after the Northfield raid and over the course of several came to realize that the Union was just as bad.
  #36  
Old 06-07-2012, 12:39 AM
gkster gkster is offline
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Originally Posted by AuntiePam View Post
This is fascinating!

I read the Little House books as a child, well before the TV show. I thought Laura was lucky, because of all the moving. I've always loved new places, a different house (even if it was a dump), new neighbors. So I didn't think "Hard times, another failure, so sad" but "Yay, Laura gets to see another new place!"
Aha...I just realized that this is why I never saw Pa as a failure or wanted to smack him and tell him to settle down as some earlier posters do. We did a lot of moving when I was a child for my father's job so I guess it just seemed natural to me that the Ingalls family should keep moving.
Also the books all show great affection and admiration for Pa and all his abilities--his resourcefulness, perseverance, cheerfulness, shrewdness. One of my favorite scenes is in The Long Winter where he outwits Almanzo and Royall Wilder and borrows some of the grain that he knows they have hidden in their false wall. And of course in Little Town on the Prairie he wins the spelling bee and "spells down" down the whole town. Even the episode in Little Town where he and some friends do a comedy routine in blackface is presented as evidence of his humor and talent. So I suppose my acceptance of Pa is based on Laura's positive portrayal of him.

Michael Landon, on the other hand, I didn't really find as likeable as Pa in the books--did anyone else find it odd that almost all the other grown men had beards and mustaches, but not him? And, he was almost prettier than Ma (Karen Grassle) which rubbed me the wrong way.

Last edited by gkster; 06-07-2012 at 12:39 AM.
  #37  
Old 06-07-2012, 03:36 AM
Lynn Bodoni Lynn Bodoni is offline
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Quote:
Also the books all show great affection and admiration for Pa and all his abilities
Laura was clearly a daddy's girl, and Pa was a great deal more sympathetic to Laura than Ma was. Ma was concerned that Laura didn't take proper care of her clothes, or her complexion, and was dead set against Laura doing boys' work. Pa, on the other hand, obviously loved Laura very much, tomboyish ways and all. I wouldn't say that Ma didn't love Laura, but Ma found Mary to be a much more feminine and biddable daughter.
  #38  
Old 06-07-2012, 10:56 AM
Hello Again Hello Again is offline
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Aha...I just realized that this is why I never saw Pa as a failure or wanted to smack him and tell him to settle down as some earlier posters do. We did a lot of moving when I was a child for my father's job so I guess it just seemed natural to me that the Ingalls family should keep moving.
Lots of people move their families around a lot. But I think in the cold light of adulthood you'll find that Pa moved the family for idiotic, selfish reasons every time. We had a thread called something like "Wasn't Pa Kind of a Fuck-up?" a few years ago but I haven't been able to locate it.
  #39  
Old 06-07-2012, 11:02 AM
Sicks Ate Sicks Ate is online now
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Originally Posted by Nawth Chucka View Post
The end-timers, yes! Her poor hubby..
Ironically enough (for those who've read The Wilder Life), my husband got into the Little House books this past Christmas. I asked for them on my wishlist and he hid them when they came to the house; but not before flipping through them and saying to himself, "Why didn't anyone give these to ME when I was a kid??" Though they're written from a girl's POV I feel they're perfect for boys, too.Now we share the set.
My bold...I think I read these for the first time in about 3rd grade. The 'girls' were reading them at the time, and I think I picked one up out of curiousity. I received the box set shortly therafter and have no idea how many times I read through them.

I plan on buying a new set for my son.
  #40  
Old 06-07-2012, 11:03 AM
gkster gkster is offline
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Originally Posted by skdo23 View Post
As another thread points out, among other things, one episode implied that Colonel Sanders (who wasn't even born until 1890) traveled to Walnut Grove to buy Nellie's Restaurant and turn it into a franchise.
That's a great thread! I cracked up on seeing this post:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sir Rhosis View Post
Always wondered if Charles had some type of bellows set up to get that blow-dried hair.

And if anyone has seen a photo of the real Charles Ingalls, he didn't just have a run of the mill beard. The man had basically a goatee which he let fall to near his chest, and spread out sorta like a trangle.

Sir Rhosis
http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/...9&postcount=48

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hello Again View Post
Lots of people move their families around a lot. But I think in the cold light of adulthood you'll find that Pa moved the family for idiotic, selfish reasons every time. We had a thread called something like "Wasn't Pa Kind of a Fuck-up?" a few years ago but I haven't been able to locate it.
There's something about the series that prevents me from reading it in the cold light of adulthood, though--maybe having had a wonderful devoted dad who in some ways reminded me of Pa but who didn't mess up.
OTOH my cousin loved the show, I think because Pa/Michael Landon was so different from her cold, absent dad.

Last edited by gkster; 06-07-2012 at 11:08 AM.
  #41  
Old 06-07-2012, 11:55 AM
gallows fodder gallows fodder is offline
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I loved these books! I got to visit De Smet, SD, a few years ago and tour the town, which was a highlight of that summer. I have pictures somewhere...

One of my favorite things about reading them as an adult was the fact that everyone seemed so in control of their emotions, as the culture of the time dictated, but Laura had quite a temper that would spark off every once in a while. My favorite of these scenes was either in The Long Winter or Little Town on the Prairie, when Carrie and her friend get in trouble for rocking on their bench during school, and when they're punished by having to keep on rocking (more than poor frail Carrie's health could stand), Laura shoves them aside and rocks the bench until the screws come out, and then she and Carrie are kicked out of school for the day. Shocking! I love that illustration of wild-eyed Laura rocking that bench while her hair comes loose from its braid.

Last edited by gallows fodder; 06-07-2012 at 11:55 AM.
  #42  
Old 06-07-2012, 12:26 PM
eclectic wench eclectic wench is offline
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I'd forgotten about the bench-rocking. I liked Laura.

I never wanted to smack Pa (although I haven't read the books since I was a kid, so I might now). Ma, on the other hand... She was so prissy and self-righteous and boring, and she kept trying to make Laura into a prissy self-righteous bore, and she moralised all the time. Laura would ask for a drink of water and Ma would use it as an opportunity for a sermon. And she was a racist bitch.

I don't know what it is about mothers in nineteenth-century autobiographies being syrupy, moralising, intolerable geebags. Marmee in Little Women is the same. I think it was some kind of mid-nineteenth-century ideal of womanhood that hasn't aged well.
  #43  
Old 02-05-2013, 10:57 AM
Elendil's Heir Elendil's Heir is offline
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A new theory on why Mary Ingalls went blind: http://thechart.blogs.cnn.com/2013/0...ind/?hpt=hp_c4
  #44  
Old 02-05-2013, 02:20 PM
Springtime for Spacers Springtime for Spacers is offline
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One thing that struck me was how self reliant the children had to be, living at times on the margins of survival. In one book, I think it's Plum River, the adults have gone to town to get some necessary supplies before winter sets in. They tell the girls to stay indoors and on no account to go outside. The adults haven't been gone long when big clouds come over and it begins to snow.

Laura recalls a story about some kids left in a cabin in similar circumstances where the adults got snowed in at the town and couldn't get back for days. When the parents returned they found that their children had frozen to death despite burning every stick of furniture in the place. There is only enough wood for a couple of days actually inside the Ingalls' cabin, but there is a winter's worth stacked in the barn -- which wouldn't have been safe to retrieve in a white out. More memories of people who get lost and frozen a few yards from home. After some discussion the girls (Laura and Mary iirc) decided they simply must disobey their parents and go outside to fetch more wood.

By the time Pa and Ma struggle back through the thickening snow they find the girls have stacked enough wood for a couple of months inside the cabin. They don't get blamed for disobeying though and Pa says the girls did the right thing.
  #45  
Old 02-05-2013, 02:27 PM
Kimballkid Kimballkid is offline
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I Pa would have been smart, he would have strung a rope from the house to the barn to follow in such conditions. Many people did that back then.
  #46  
Old 02-05-2013, 03:54 PM
Silophant Silophant is offline
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I haven't read the books in several years, and don't have them to check, but I'm pretty sure that setup is mentioned at some point in the books. Maybe it's not until the Long Winter.
  #47  
Old 02-05-2013, 04:49 PM
apollonia apollonia is offline
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They do mention doing so frequently during winters in the books. I believe they hadn't done so at that point because they did not expect a blizzard to pop up so quickly at that time of year. After Ma and Pa get back, Pa strings a rope for them all to use.
  #48  
Old 02-05-2013, 09:28 PM
Springtime for Spacers Springtime for Spacers is offline
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Originally Posted by apollonia View Post
They do mention doing so frequently during winters in the books. I believe they hadn't done so at that point because they did not expect a blizzard to pop up so quickly at that time of year. After Ma and Pa get back, Pa strings a rope for them all to use.
Even when they have a rope set up I think Pa is the only one who actually goes outside in severe conditions.

Last edited by Springtime for Spacers; 02-05-2013 at 09:29 PM.
  #49  
Old 02-05-2013, 10:31 PM
apollonia apollonia is offline
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No, I think when Pa is gone to work on the railroad during the winter on Plum Creek, Ma uses the rope to go take care of the stock. Although she is extremely adamant that they are not to come after her no matter how long she is gone.
  #50  
Old 02-05-2013, 10:38 PM
F. U. Shakespeare F. U. Shakespeare is offline
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Not what the Op is asking, but...

If PFC Gomer Pyle could serve in the USMC 1964-1969 without the words "Viet Nam" being mentioned, I think the Ingalls TV family were safe.
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