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The Carter/Ingalls/Wilder Connection

Posted by clawfootcurt on Friday, September 12, 2008

A few months ago, I decided to read the Little House on the Prairie books. As I progressed through them, I kind of felt drawn in by the pioneer life and easily felt as if I was looking into my families past because the similarities of my families history to that of this account.

Recently, my wife Sue and I made a trip out to Iowa, Minnesota, and South Dakota visiting sites having to do with Laura Ingalls/Wilder. Sue and I both felt as if we were not only seeing into the Ingalls/Wilder's past but some of our own as well. We knew going into this that one of Sue's uncles had lived in a prairie soddie. We got to see some soddies on this trip. (If you don't know what that is, google it sometime, it is very interesting.) In addition, my family moved to Wisconsin on a covered wagon from New York. The Wilder family moved to Southern MN from New York. The Ingalls were living in Wisconsin for quite a while. (Laura was born in WI) My ancestor from NY, William Nelson Carter, that transplanted us to WI, was about the same age as Charles Ingalls and James Wilder (Almanzo's Dad) Anyway, all this to say that we already felt as if we were looking at our own family history, a little. One of the sites we visited was in Burr Oak, IA.

Last night, while reading in some family history that my mother had put together before she passed away, I found a picture of Mom with my great-great grandfather on my Mom's Mom's side, Fred Wemette. It turns out that Fred was born in Burr Oak, IA in 1864. Laura and her family lived in Burr Oak in the fall of 1875, and stayed there until sometime in 1878. Laura was born in 1867. She would have been 3 years younger than Fred. I wonder if they knew each other? I suppose they attended the same school? Pa Ingalls played the fiddle, so he was probably fairly popular? Did Fred ever hear him play?

Fred Later married Lillibelle. Lillibelle started teaching at 16 years of age and moved out on the prairies of South Dakota to teach. Does this sound familiar? She was one of the teachers caught in the infamous "schoolchildren's blizzard" of 1888. (google that sometime too.-she stayed in the schoolhouse with the kids, and was rescued the next morning) At this time Laura was newly married and living in De Smet, SD with her husband Almanzo and her daughter Rose, trying to make a go at farming. Much the same.

Back to Burr Oak, when we visited, we did not know that Fred and Lillibelle were both buried there in the Burr Oak cemetary, or we would have gone to find the grave sites. I guess we have another trip through Burr Oak in our future. I wonder what else I will find out tomorrow?

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