On the Way to the Big Woods: Part 1

This will be the first in a series of posts retracing the Ingalls family from their English origins to the Big Woods of Wisconsin where the Little House series begins. During my research, I was intrigued to find the Ingalls family moved back and forth across the American/Canadian border as French & British colonies developed into two distinct countries. Wisconsin was a perfect finished mirror for the Ingalls family of French Canadian culture and New England expansion. This exploration is very personal for me as I am navigating my own reverse Ingalls immigration from the United States up into Canada. I’m rethinking the North American history I understood and expanding my view on colonialism, the history it left behind and the cultures it created.

My research would not have been possible from the safety of the internet without the excellent works created by Charles Burleigh in 1903 and Walter Renton Ingalls in 1930 tracing the  family.  While Walter found the a record of the Ingalls family in 1384 in Lincolnshire, England our story starts closer to the 17th century when we can follow a direct line down to Laura. Henry Ingalls begins our family tree with records of his 1555 will. The family still residing in Skirbeck, Lincolnshire. His son Robert’s will 1617 is also documented. Which allows us to follow Henry to Robert to Edmond. It’s ultimately Henry’s grandchild Edmund who would brave the Atlantic crossing and eventually settle in Sargus (Lynn), Massachusetts.

What I found so extraordinary about Edmond’s voyage to the new colonies was his comfortable position in England. His grandfather, Henry, and father, Robert, owned land, livestock and gave money not only to their children but also servants. Edmond is not the traveler we were presented with in history books fleeing from England. He had five children, servants, disposable income and was not escaping from religious persecution. He was actually able to pay his way across the Atlantic which would lead to owning more land (then say a company sponsored man) in the new world using the headright system along with his brother.  The company that brought the Ingalls to the New World is a name that we are familiar with from elementary school: The Massachusetts Bay Company

Massachusetts was colonized around fisheries and England’s growing economy and food necessities. In 1623 of group of merchants in Dorchester England wanted to cut the costs  around the transatlantic fishing season in North America by leaving a group of men permanently in Cape Ann, Massachusetts . In theory, this band of fishing brothers would farm, hunt and trap year round and be available to assist during the fishing season with the yearly ships sent over by the merchants. The reality of the venture however is a lesson in hiring a proper project manager. No one realized that the high season for farming and fishing coincided. Two seasons did not see the returns the Dorchester Company expected and they offered to sail the original men back to England as the company was abandoning the venture. A few men decided to stay and led by Roger Conant took the remaining cattle and supplies from the Dorchester Company and moved south to Naumkeag (Salem) hoping that the farm land was better then Cape Ann had proved.

During this time back in England a new company was reforming around the idea of the settlements in Massachusetts. They would purchase supplies in England from the defunct Dorchester Co. and received an initial land grant; which must have been a surprise to Roger Conant and his group!  The shock would have doubled when they realized Roger would not continue to lead the settlement but that a man named John Endecott would arrive with new settlers and supplies on the Abigail (ship). Due to the conflicting, overlapping land grants and multitude of similar companies forming in England it was important to the new Massachusetts Bay Company to make this new land grant concrete. Luckily the new company was very well connected in Court (nepotism rules even then) and on March 4, 1629 the King would grant a royal charter: The Governor and Company of the Massachusetts Bay in New England.

 While Jamestown (Virginia) was the first permanent English settlement in 1607, the link between the Massachusetts Bay Colony and Lincolnshire would have pulled Edmond and Francis Ingalls north to Massachusetts when they decided to immigrate from England. In 1631 Thomas Dudley (then governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony) wrote to the Countess of Lincoln in March 1631 recounting the travelers directly from Lincolnshire “Touching the plantacon which wee here haue begun, it fell out tlit~s:-About the yeare 1627, some fi.iends beeing togeather in Lincolnshire, fell ints some discourse about New England”. The modern spelling errors aside, Dudley is recounting the close relationship between Lincolnshire and the members of the Massachusetts colony. This discourse of immigration and the Massachusetts Bay Company centered around Lincolnshire thanks to King Charles I. If Charles  hadn’t been a complete pompous ass, New England may have had slower start instead of the waves of immigrants they experienced.

Charles’ rule was plagued with confrontations with  Parliament regarding taxes, his perceived divine right as a King and his religious polices. Translation: he wanted to impose taxes whenever he wanted without consent *cough* Boston Tea Party*cough*, he believed God put him as King (try arguing with someone who believes God is on their side) and surprise surprise religion divided people. It’s these religious policies that echoed across Lincolnshire. The 4th Earl of Lincoln, Theophilus (how did that name EVER go out of fashion) Clinton, was a puritan and Lincolnshire would become the epicenter of the movement with several future key figures in the Massachusetts Bay Colony directly connected to the Earl.  It was at Clinton’s house at Sempringham that in 1629 John Winthrop’s meetings regarding the Massachusetts Bay Colony would forever shape history within New England. Winthrop would lead his group in 1630 and ultimately spend 19 terms as governor and/or lieutenant-governor. Thomas Dudley who served as a steward at the Sempringham estate would become deputy governor. Even the curate of Sempringham would travel to the New World and become pastor of the Salem Church. The Ingalls family would not have been immune to understanding that leading members (Earls, lawyers, pastors) of their community were buzzing about this new colony and it’s potential.

Let’s reign in though the popularity contests and Puritan bonanza happening at Sempringham. Not all travelers to the Massachusetts Bay Colony were for religious reasons as we see with Edmund Ingalls and his brother Francis. Using the headright system the brothers would have paid for their passage and in return would have received a larger land grant from the company. I understand why younger brother Francis Ingalls would find the venture appealing. Under Edmond he wouldn’t have inherited his father’s land and would have been more apt to turn to a trade that could have translated/benefited a colonial existence. But Edmund chose to go as well bringing a wife and five children with him. So for a secular traveler, what was it like to join the Massachusetts Bay Colony? A colony with deep religious foundations? Well…the 1600’s aren’t exactly know for their tolerance…

Tune in for part two of our ongoing history of the Ingalls travels from Lincolnshire, England to the Big Woods of Wisconsin.

  1. http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1008&context=scottow   Gov. Thomas Dudley:Letter to  the Countess of Lincoln, March 1631
  2. Northend, William Dummer. Bay Colony: A Civil, Religious and Social History of the Massachusetts Colony and Its. Place of Publication Not Identified: Nabu, 2010. Print.
  3. Zochert, Donald. Laura: The Life of Laura Ingalls Wilder. Chicago: H. Regnery, 1976. Print.
  4. Ingalls, Walter Renton. The Ingalls Family in England and America. Boxford, MA: W.R. Ingalls, 1930. Print.
  5. Burleigh, Charles. The Genealogy and History of the Ingalls Family in America: Giving the Descendants of Edmund Ingalls Who Settled at Lynn, Mass. in 1629. Malden, MASS: Geo. E. Dunbar, 1903. Print.

Laura Ingalls Wilder Ultimate Book List!

As one slowly descends into a fandom you begin to build up a collection surrounding that interest. In my case, it’s books. Tracking down every book that pertains to Laura, the series, the chapter books, the cookbooks, the nonfiction…you get the point. Some are for my own research and some are just novelty collectable pieces. But what can be difficult for friends and family is identifying what books you have and what you need when it comes to the holidays/birthdays. Or in a certain case… what series one talked about after three bottles of wine and now she  absolutely has to read (hello Jill!)  It’s in her honor that I began to pull this list together.

So time to unveil the ultimate book list!  Comment if I miss anything, I’ll add it in and tweet any addendums.  Happy reading!

By Laura Ingalls Wilder- Little House series

Little House in the Big Woods
Farmer Boy
Little House on the Prairie
On the Banks of Plum Creek
By the Shore of Silver Lake
The Long Winter
Little Town on the Prairie
These Happy Golden Years
The First Four Year

By Roger Lea MacBride- The Rose Years

Little House on Rocky Ridge
Little Farm in the Ozarks
In the Land of the Big Red Apple
On the Other Side of the Hill
Little Town in the Ozarks
New Dawn on Rocky Ridge
On the Banks of the Bayou
Bachelor Girl

For Young Readers:

Going to Town
Sugar Snow
County Fair
Dance at Grandpa’s
The Deer in the Woods
A Little Prairie House
Prairie Day
A Farmer Boy Birthday
Summertime in the Big Woods
Winter Days in the Big Woods
Winter on the Farm
Going West
A Little House Birthday
Christmas in the Big Woods

For slightly older Young Readers:

Little House in the Highland: The Martha Years
Little House in Boston Bay: The Charlotte Years
Little House in Brookfield: The Caroline Years

Mary Ingalls on Her Own
Old Town in the Green Groves
Farmer Boy Goes West

Little House Chapter Books:

Animal Adventures
The Adventures of Laura & Jack
Pioneer Sisters
Christmas Stories
School Days

Activities and Guide Books:

Little House Coloring Book
The Little House Cookbook
The World of Little House
The Little House Guidebook
My Book of Little House Paper Dolls
My Little House Crafts Book

Journal or Correspondence Collections/Curated:

On the Way Home by Laura Ingalls Wilder (published posthumously)
A Little House Traveler by Laura Ingalls Wilder (published posthumously)
Laura’s Album by William Anderson
The Selected Letters of Laura Ingalls Wilder by William Anderson
Pioneer Girl Perspectives: Exploring Laura Ingalls Wilder edited by Nancy Tystad Koupal
A Little House Sampler by William Anderson
Laura Ingalls Wilder, Farm Journalist: Writings from the Ozarks by Laura Ingalls Wilder/ Stephen W. Hines
Little House in the Ozarks by Laura Ingalls Wilder / Stephen W. Hines
I Remember Laura by Stephen W. Hines


Laura Ingalls Wilder by William Anderson
Pioneer Girl by William Anderson
Prairie Girl by William Anderson
Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Bibliography edited by Pamela Hill Smith
Laura Ingalls Wilder: A Writer’s Life by Pamela Hill Smith
Libertarians on the Prairie: Laura Ingalls Wilder, Rose Wilder Lane and the Making of the Little House Books by Christine Woodside

Surrounding Nonfiction:

From the Mouth of Ma by Robynne Elizabeth Miller
The Three Faces of Nellie by Robynne Elizabeth Miller
Little House, Long Shadow: Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Impact on American Culture by Anita Clair Fellman
The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of the Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure
Laura Ingalls Wilder and Rose Wilder Lane: Authorship, Place, Time and Culture by John E. Miller
The Ghost in the Little House: A Life of Rose Wilder Lane by John E. Miller
Becoming Laura Ingalls Wilder: The Woman behind the Legend by John E. Miller
Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little Town by John E. Miller
Laura Ingalls Wilder Country: The People and Places in Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Life and Books by William Anderson
The Story of the Ingalls by William Anderson
The Long Hard Winter of 1880-81: What was it Really Like by Dan L. White
DeSmet (Images of America) by Laura Ingalls Wilder Society
Around Mansfield (Images of America) by Mansfield Area Historical Society


Share-Day Post: Vintage Needlework Books Online

Kindred blogger! You all know my obsession with archive.org when researching a post and Rabbit Girl Crafts has assembled a collection of free resources for vintage patterns! Throw on a Netflix marathon and start crafting tonight!

Thanks to university libraries and dedicated individuals in the United States and around the world, it is possible to find hundreds of free, out-of-copyright needlework and embroidery books and patterns online. If you are interested in embroidery history or vintage patterns, here are some resources to get you started. Warning: You may get lost for […]

via Free Vintage Needlework Patterns Online — Rabbit Girl Crafts

Montgomery Tour of PEI

A perfect checklist for anyone head to Prince Edward Island!  I wish I had watched this prior to my bike trip so I could have gauged better what I had to see versus what I could wait on for the next trip.  We missed out on a few places simply due to our biking route but I did get to see the house she was born in by accident.

We were biking through New London along the road when I saw the sign coming up on the left. I managed to veer quickly and found myself yelling from the parking lot for everyone else to join me. It was the happy accidents during the trip that still remain the brightest memories.

Watching the video now while I’m writing is making me want to reread Maud by Melanie Fishbane (yea! for advance copies). If you haven’t per-ordered you still have time. Well the sun is finally back in Calgary so it’s time to make a cup of tea and find a sun beam on the porch (probably still with a blanket) and read Maud again.

Video Published on Mar 2, 2015
Soundtrack: “Anne’s Theme” by Hagood Hardy
All photos by Bernadeta Milewski

Sketches from Concord

I’ve been cruising through archive.org on my lunch breaks lately.  Talk to people and interact? Nah. It’s easier to put my nose back into a book (or screen in this case) then try to suppress my sarcasm/dark humor for another hour.

I came across this book, Sketches from Concord and Appledore, and my initial reaction was pure joy; it’s difficult to find older books that included Lousia May Alcott among her contemporaries. Then I started reading it…Frank Stearns  created these vignettes to shed a personal understanding to the writers that stemmed from Concord. He’s honest in his preface that his main focus was two male authors and filled the remaining chapters with writers that he and the public were familiar with.  I should have read the preface/introduction before jumping straight to his chapter on Louisa though so my red hot rage would have tempered. Instead I read through about 6 pages describing Bronson Alcott before Stearns’ ever got to Louisa. Who after about three lines was tossed over again but this time for her sister May. Then back to Mr. Alcott, her mother and finally circling back to Louisa.

So after a cooling off period post preface reading what does this tell me about Louisa’s literary reputation around 1895?  She would have written Moods, Little Women and Jo’s Boys by this time and  have been immensely popular in pop culture. And these would have been the writings that her public knew about, her branded image late in life.  Not the dark and serialized stories she supported her family on earlier.  “Alcott grew up in an extraordinary political atmosphere, thanks to her father, Amos Bronson Alcott, who was a forward-thinking educator. He was friends with some of the most influential thinkers of his time — and yet he never managed to earn a living or take care of his family” Harriet Reisen reflected in her NPR Morning Edition interview. Stearns honored a man in those first 6 pages that had connections and influence but his disinterest in earning a living starved his family for years. Was it Bronson’s connections to great writers such as Emerson and Hawthorne that intrigued Stearns more in Bronson then Louisa’s actual career success? In Stearns’ mind were the Alcotts a package deal within the Concord community and he couldn’t separate her from her family and community?

Setting her specific chapter aside the book succeeds in providing a glimpse into Concord, Massachusetts during this time period. “The Emerson farm lies between two interesting roads, one going straight over the hills of Boston, and the other to Walden Lake and Thoreau’s hermitage”.  It would be a  fantastic source for descriptions of the community if you were researching any of these writers.  And perhaps that’s Stearns contribution. While individual biographies paint narrow pictures of their authors Stearns’ chapters show a period of connectivity. In the end he succeeds in sketching Concord just not perhaps his subjects.



Stearns, Frank Preston. Sketches from Concord and Appledore. Concord Thirty Years Ago; Nathaniel Hawthorne; Louisa M. Alcott; Ralph Waldo Emerson; Matthew Arnold; David A. Wasson; Wendell Phillips; Appledore and Its Visitors; John Greenleaf Whittier. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1895. Print.

Share-Post: Bringing Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Stories to Life in Quilts

If you aren’t already following the sitesandstories blog, I’m going to need you to click on the below link and get lost in Kathleen Ernst’s amazing writing. You can thank me (or hate me) in the comments sections when an hour or two of your day has suddenly disappeared.

Kathleen has two posts which feature Linda Halpin’s amazing Little House quilts. Linda wrote in 1991 the book  Quilting with Laura:  Patterns Inspired by the “Little House On The Prairie” . Which most fans of Laura are familiar with when they began that slow descent into purchasing EVERY book surrounding Laura.Or maybe that was just me? A bottle of wine and Amazon has never been great for my wallet.

Reading these posts coincided with me recently making my own resolution to progress my quilt skills and begin to work on more complex pieces. Tomorrow I head out to purchase the Andover’s “Little House” fabrics, I already have the book, and set aside time each week to meticulously work out these blocks. Enjoy the the posts on the sitesandstories blog!

I’m delighted to welcome my talented friend Linda Halpin to the blog! Linda is a quilt instructor and historian—and a Laura Ingalls Wilder fan. * * * Like many, my adventure with Laura started in grade school when I was captivated by her stories. This was long before television brought her to life. She lived […]

via Bringing Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Stories to Life in Quilts – Part 1 —