In our little house in Urbana, the children and I began traveling with Pa and Ma, Mary, Laura, Carrie, and later Grace from one little house to another as we began reading the Little House series.
Back then, we traveled in our imaginations. Last week Ray and I, along with our daughter Mary Evelyn and her family, still used our imaginations, but this time we imagined Laura and her family while standing in the places they really lived in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and South Dakota. While there, we made videos which we plan to use in future projects.
Our first stop was the Little House in the Big Woods, birthplace of Laura Ingalls Wilder (and her sister Mary, too). Laura was born near Pepin, Wisconsin, in 1867. The original little house is long gone, but a replica stands today on land that Pa once owned.
The big woods are gone, too; the whole area is one cleared farm after another. Laura would see this view today.
Ray and I stopped by Pepin five years ago while coming home from a homeschool convention in Duluth, Minnesota. Though the cabin replica is unfurnished, it was a thrill to find the door open this time . . .
. . . and to be here with grandchildren who had so much fun exploring the three tiny rooms downstairs and the loft above.
Ray found the Laura books in his classroom at school and read them when he was a little boy.
I read the books for the first time while reading them aloud to our children. I was as excited to find out what happened next as the children were. We all loved learning about pioneer life and hearing about the specific events that happened in the lives of the Ingalls; but that wasn’t all for me: I was learning from Ma, Laura’s kind, cheerful, disciplined, and calm mother.
Long after her family left the Big Woods, Laura married Almanzo Wilder. They and their one surviving child Rose traveled by covered wagon to southeast Missouri, where they built a successful farm. Rose grew up to become a famous author.
After writing articles for magazines and journals herself for many years, Laura decided to share with children the memories of her childhood. She believed that the American history she had experienced as a pioneer girl, traveling in a covered wagon and establishing little house after little house in the American west, was a story American children needed to hear.
In 1932 Laura Ingalls Wilder published Little House in the Big Woods, her first book for children. She was sixty-five years old. I’m thankful for all her stories. I’m particularly thankful of her stories about Ma and her:
. . . imperishable quality
of a gentle and quiet spirit,
which is precious
in the sight of God.
1 Peter 3:4b