Coming Soon….The Americanization of the Big Woods in Wisconsin



We all know my slight obsession with when it comes to research. The internet has allowed nonprofit libraries to flourish which are invaluable for blogs such as mine.  I’ve had this book on my backburner for a bit as I was studying for my Canadian citizenship test and I’m now finally ready to give this a go!

The timing could not have been more perfect as this fits seamlessly into the Canadian history I’ve been studying. As an American I was always taught colonial history and westward expansion from a single viewpoint. A viewpoint that did not exist for most colonists as what we deem a border was quite the fluid line. We know Pa’s father, Lansford Ingalls, was born in Lower Canada in British North America while Pa, Charles Ingalls, was later born in New York.  Lansford was born in Lower Canada, an area that was formally known as New France. A culture that would have been familiar to Lansford when he moved to Wisconsin as that territory didn’t start to see British roots take hold until the French and Indian War in 1754; prior to this Wisconsin populated with citizens, priests, explorers and traders of New France with indigenous Native populations.

I’m excited to read Wisconsin. The Americanization of a French Settlement and begin to discuss Wisconsin history in more depth as it pertains to the environment Laura grew up in a little house in the Big Woods of Wisconsin. I’ve included the link should you want to read along with me and comment with anything that you discovered!



Retelling our Puritan Past with Sarah Vowell

shipI’ve previously written about Edmund Ingalls and his immigration from England to his descendants scattering across New England to the little house in the Big Woods of Wisconsin. I think my fascination with his immigration stems from it’s Puritan time period. Fascinating because Edmund does not fit the traditional grim, religious Puritan narrative. His reasons for leaving England fell more to the monetary and opportunistic side. I don’t know why I’m shocked that history books in middle school only glossed over this time period in a few themes but I find the complete image much more compelling. You have traveling on the ship a passenger that wants to strive for more then he could achieve in England and passengers arguing on the direction of the Protestant faith. And these passengers are even fighting each other.Puritans vs Separatists; a battle similar to the verbally jousting at a UFC pre-fight weight in. Religion vs money. If only they had a camel and eye of needle when they landed in New England these two factions could have figured out their difference early. Instead you have settlements from Plymouth, Salem and Boston emerge. Pilgrims, Puritans and guys like Edmund that simply came for the ride.

Sarah Vowell’s book The Wordy Shipmates embodies her love of Puritan history with her own biographical vignettes from researching the book. You’ll flash back between a Mayflower themed waterslide to combing through Governor Winthrop’s original journals. Her love of history and Puritans come out in a truly modern voice. “I’m always disappointed when I see the word “Puritan” tossed around as shorthand for a bunch of generic, boring, stupid, judgmental killjoys. Because to me, they are very specific, fascinating, sometimes brilliant, judgmental killjoys who rarely agreed on anything except the Catholics are going to hell.”  She humanized the Puritans for me, I’m almost routing for them to realize their “city on a hill”. Reading The Wordy Shipmates with my own focus on Edmund Ingalls made me appreciate even further their communities. It would have been incredibly frustrating to finally leave England for a safe religious haven only to have settlers tag along that don’t care about your negligible theological differences. It’s diving into these stories that keeps me writing and researching about Laura Ingalls Wilder’s family. I’m finally filling in the gaps of my cursory middle school history lessons.

Go out and get all of Sarah Vowell’s books. I would say start with The Wordy Shipmates but let’s be honest you’ll just want the next one right after. Grab them all from the library and cuddle into the couch for the weekend.

Vowell, Sarah. The Wordy Shipmates. New York: Riverhead, 2008. Print.

Wisconsin Timeline

“Once upon a time, sixty years ago, a little girl lived in the Big Woods of Wisconsin, in a little grey house made of logs.” pg. 1

February 1, 1860- Charles Ingalls marries Caroline Quiner in Concord Wisconsin

January 10, 1865- Mary Amelia Ingalls born in Wisconsin

February 7, 1867- Laura Elizabeth Ingalls born in Wisconsin.

April 28, 1868- Charles Ingalls sells land in Wisconsin.

May 28, 1868- Charles Ingalls buys land in Missouri.

August 6, 1869- Charles Ingalls signs power of attorney, Chariton County, Missouir

February 25, 1870- Charles Ingalls approves sale of Missouri land, Montgomery County, Kansas

August 3, 1870- Caroline Celestia Ingalls born in Kansas

May 30, 1871- Charles Ingalls revokes power of attorney, Durand, Wisconsin

October 21, 1871- Laura and Mary attend Berry school, Pepin Township, Wisconsin

October 28, 1873-Charles and Caroline Ingalls sell land in Wisconsin


Zochert, Donald. Laura: The Life of Laura Ingalls Wilder. Chicago: H. Regnery, 1976. Print.

From England to Wisconsin


“So far as the little girl could see, there was only the one little house where she lived with her father and mother, and her sister Mary and baby sister Carrie.” pg. 2

We are introduced to the Ingalls family in the isolated Big Woods of Wisconsin.  We immediately picture a frontier family, isolated but independent.  So how did Charles Ingalls find himself in the Big Woods of Wisconsin? Given the time period and immigration where did the Ingalls originally call home? Charles Burleigh and Walter Renton Ingalls did some amazing research to trace the family back to Massachusetts and further to it’s  English starting point. Charles’ line in America descended from Edmund Ingalls who immigrated in 1628 to Salem, Massachusetts with his brother Francis.

The family name Ingalls originally dates back to 1384 in Lincolnshire, England with scattered references.  Edmund was born in 1598 and was in a comfortable enough position to finance his own trip to the new world in 1628.  Edmond and Francis set out with Governor John Endicott’s company on the Abigail (ship).

I personally love that in tracing history it’s usually the negative space that speaks volumes. For instance, researchers do not have a passenger list for the Abigail. However the next ship did not land until June 30th 1629 and manuscripts found in Saugus (Lynn), Mass list Edmund and Francis Ingalls.  Further how do we know Edmund and Francis finance their trip? The brothers jointly had 120 acres in Massachusetts. The company only gave 10 acres to passengers but those that could finance their own passage received an additional 50 acres.

Edmund upon landing in Salem already displayed the wandering foot that would plague Charles years later. Edmund and Francis moved from Salem to Saugus (later named Lynn). This move was most likely in reaction to Governor Endicott’s belief in micromanaging the settlement ‘s safety as well has daily habits.

The settlement of Saugus would still be in the Salem jurisdiction but with a bit more breathing room. This area was within the Pawtucket Tribe’s traditional lands and by all accounts Edmund and Francis found a balance with the tribe. This balance would have been necessary as the brothers were technically squatters from the viewpoint of the English. It’s not until 1638 that the authority of the Courts recognized the area’s allotments. Francis began a tannery while Edmund was a brewer in addition to farming. Given the hardship of immigrating at this time we can assume Francis and Edmund followed similar frontier survival as their neighbors. The area was planted with apples and pears for cider, flax for spinning/weaving and salt could be trapped from the ocean air. Building a home was incredibly difficult but would have been aided by the environment. This frontier was teaming with pristine soil, fish and game.  Edmund’s heirs would follow in his footsteps and be degrees began to branch out with their families. From Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Quebec, Illinois and finally to Wisconsin where we meet a young girl in the Big Woods.

I’ve connected Edmund to Charles Ingalls following father to son below until we finish with Laura.

Edmond Ingalls 1598-1648. He married Ann Ingalls in England, immigrated to the colonies in 1628. Died while traveling to Boston due to a faulty bridge in 1648; his heirs would sue the town and win damages for his death. His 7th child Henry leads the line down to Charles Ingalls.

Henry Ingalls 1626-1716. Henry married Mary Osgood and moved from Lynn to Ipswich and eventually to Andover, Massachusetts. He held office in his town as well as became a freeman in 1673.

Samuel Ingalls 1654-1733. Samuel married Sarah Hendrick and lived in Andover, Massachusetts. The records indicate he was a sergeant in the militia.

Samuel Ingalls 1683-1760. He married Mary Watts and was a blacksmith in Chester, New Hampshire. He was captain of the militia, selectman and a clerk.

Timothy Ingalls 1720 –  .  I have been unable to locate records in regards to his wife but it appears he was a trader in Chester, New Hampshire.

Jonathan Ingalls 1750-1834. He married Martha J. Locke and lived in Bridgewater, New Hampshire.

Samuel Ingalls 1771-1841. He married Margaret Delano and lived in Dunham, Quebec and later western New York after 1818. He was a published writer.

Lansford Ingalls 1812-1896. He married Laura Colby and they would move from Quebec, New York, Illinois and finally to Wisconsin. Lansford and Laura would be introduced as Grandma and Grandpa to readers during sugar snows and jigging.

Charles P. Ingalls 1836-1902. He married Caroline Quiner. Charles would move from New York, Illinois and meet Caroline in Wisconsin. He would make several moves during his life that his daughter would chronicle. Some migrations were combined and some were left out altogether but Charles eventually finished his moving days in DeSmet, South Dakota.

Laura Ingalls Wilder 1867-1957. Laura married Almanzo Wilder and had a daughter Rose. Her travels would include Wisconsin, Kansas, Minnesota, Iowa, South Dakota, Florida and Missouri. She would eventually reside in Mansfield, Missouri where she began her children’s series.

Ingalls, Walter Renton. The Ingalls Family in England and America. Boxford, MA: W.R. Ingalls, 1930. Print.

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.