Jump to content

Menu

What was Charles Ingalls' Deal


MrsWeasley
 Share

Recommended Posts

I always thought of Pa as having moved so much due to a combination of circumstance and temperment.  There really were reasons for some of the changes, and I think he was very much an optimist, and not necessarily a very careful one.  His getting unnecessary things on credit always bothered me more than the moves.  He tended to think things would work out.

 

As for the danger and exposing children - I really just think it was a different time.  Life was risky.  If kids died, and they would, it was possible to regroup, but if the adults died, that was it for everyone.  We live in what is really a significantly risk adverse society in historical terms, IMO to the point of being wildly superstitious about it though we don't think of it that way.  Our perception of exposing kids to risk is probably much more unusual than that of the pioneers.  And the same with sending out kids to work - we are far more unusual in thinking that undesirable than they were in thinking it was a good idea.

 

I don't think the gap with the kids at the beginning of the Ingalls marriage was that odd.  I tend to think she probably was pregnant with boys and miscarried, maybe even quite early.

  • Like 13
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I still love the Little House books. I will be honest and say I was always very fond of Pa. I think when I read them as a child, I blindly trusted my own father because I just felt he was out for my good. I viewed Pa that way too. As an adult I have read the books and wondered at some things but really accepted that their time in history was much different than mine and that customs and life views wouldn't match the ones I have now either. What is the term for that? Presentism? I tend to offer grace to people in the past, to an extent, for the faults that we would see now.

 

This thread has been awesome!!!!! I had never heard of the Bender family and googled them. Did anyone ever make a horror movie out of that? They should!

Edited by Texas T
  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

We happen to be reading aloud "Little Town on the Prairie" right now. I would definitely NOT describe him as shiftless. He was a hard worker. And I think he loved his children and wanted them. Regarding the statement made earlier about Indian Territory, that is projecting 21st Century mores on a different time period. Not fair. Personally, I think he had a bad case of wanderlust. And I think he did make some bad investment decisions, but a lot of people do that. I also think he had a lot of bad luck. And I think a bunch of women in 21st century America are not going to understand what makes men in mid-19th century America tick.

 

There were plenty of people in the mid-19th century who were against and fought against what was happening with the "Indian territories" just as there were people in the 19th and 18th and 17th and before who were against and fought against chattel slavery - to the point that laws were put in place to separate poor White colonists from enslaved African people, and put them in enforced 'watch' positions where they had power and would be punished if any enslaved person  'acted up' under their watch --  because poor White colonists kept supporting and joining in slave revolts. We have writings and letters back to Columbus from people discussing being disgusted and against such mistreatment of American Indigenous people (though Columbus is rather an extreme example of this - when Queen Inquisition Isabella tells you your treating non-Christians too harshly, you've gone really quite too far). 

 

I think the issue that information and more importantly power to do anything about things were in far fewer hands than any particular mores. There are still plenty of voices in the 21st century talking about what "good" European colonization, chattel slavery, and reservations and so on brought to "civilizing the world" and how the West just needs to control or destroy other part of the globe again and it would solve everything (I have even heard quotes very similar to Ma Ingalls 'The only good Indian is a dead one') - there are just fewer of them in power and there is more power in the hands of others. There is still a lot of power imbalances and inequality and a whole lot of dividing and conquer rhetoric that is not a lot different from then happening now but the power imbalances back then pushed a lot further. 

Edited by SporkUK
  • Like 5
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Both of my maternal grandparents were from Kansas. My grandfather was from eastern Kansas and his family were farmers. Various branches had arrived there from Ohio, Illinois, and Indiana, where they had also farmed. My grandmother was from western Kansas and her family, especially her maternal line, was very much like Pa. Her father's grandparents were respectable Ohioans, but his parents had set off to homestead. When his mother died in childbirth when he was nine years old, he and his younger brother set off to make their fortune in the world. And did. He held a series of jobs throughout his life, and satisfied his wanderlust eventually by becoming a railroad engineer while having a family settled in one place. His wife, my grandmother's mom, was the one who herself came from a long line of wanderers. Her grandfather started life in SC. He moved to KY, then IN, then IL, then AR. His children continued the pattern. My great-great-grandfather reminds me a lot of Pa Ingalls. He was born during his father's time in IL and moved to AR with him. He then went to TX and back to AR where he married and my great-grandma was born. He continued to move, now with his family, always with the promise that the next move would be where they struck it big. They went throughout TX, OK, and KS, then out to NM where he was sure to find gold. At some point, he realized that wasn't going to happen and moved up to OR but his wife finally put her foot down and refused to go. She and the children stayed behind and worked to make enough money to get to Kansas where her sister lived. There she stayed. Her husband came in and out of their lives, but she never uprooted the children for him again.

My grandma remembers her mother taking care of him before his death. She did so begrudgingly and out of obligation. She refused to pay for a tombstone when he died.

Also, my grandma remembers how much her maternal grandmother disliked her. She was the second child, coming just a year after her brother. Her grandmother lived with them and always said horrid things about how she shouldn't have been born because she was too close after her brother and her mother should have waited longer before having another child.

Anyway, when I think about Pa Ingalls, I think about my great-great-grandfather and his dragging his family around the unsettled west constantly seeking his fortune with no regard for the dangers or unsavory situations he put his family in. I don't think all westward-movers were like this, but Pa Ingalls definitely wasn't the only one.

  • Like 6
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't have a problem with how Rose wrote to her mother.  I think it shows respect that you can say what you really think.  Her motive was good.  Might as well cut through the BS and get it done.  :)

 

I can definitely see my kids talking to me that way in the future.  :P

 

I loved what Rose said about the trend toward infantilizing children.  I can't imagine what she'd think of kids today.  :)

  • Like 5
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I never saw allowing Mary to go to the boarding school as favoritism. She was blind. The school was supposed to improve her opportunity for a good life. I am not sure independent living was the goal, but certainly widening her world and teaching her to be in it in some capacity would have been. I don't see it as odd that her parents and her siblings wanted the best for her, and did what they could to help her.

 

I think the perception that Mary was so much prettier came from Laura--the books (esp the first couple) show Laura's POV. People, even today, comment on blond hair and blue eyes! Mary, as a child, according to the fictional books, was able to "find her tongue" in social situations and use her manners, and these behaviors fit with the ideal child image of the time. That she was pretty was probably an added bonus.

 

There is a famous pic of Laura and her family, where Laura is holding her hand in a fist--and honestly, none of them are that good-looking in it. THere are more on that site.

 

  • Like 5
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I always took sending Mary to the school as being more than just for her.  In their family situation having her at home was probably a burden in many ways.  If she could become more independant at the school, that would be good for all of them.

 

Ma might have just connected more with Mary because they were more alike.  And Pa seemed really connected to laura which might have added its own slant to the situation.

  • Like 9
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Wow! I'm surprised by all the Pa hate going on here. :(

 

He was a good man and a loving father. I think he cared very much for his family and did the best he could for them with the skills and knowledge he had. The Ingalls family had a horrible run of bad luck - crop failure, illness, etc. It isn't as though he could control the weather or the economy. I think it is very easy for us to look back with our 21st century eyes and misjudge him.

 

As I've gotten older the one I dislike is Ma. She is always so strict and cold. Thank goodness Pa was there to inject some love and warm-heartedness into their lives. And the fiddle playing! Could you imagine how looooonnnggg and boring the nights  would have been without the music he made? 

 

Also, I thought I read somewhere that the timeline was off for Pa to have been involved in the vigilante justice with the Bender family? I own the new Prairie Girl book - I'll have to go check and see if it is talked about in it.

  • Like 11
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Wow! I'm surprised by all the Pa hate going on here. :(

 

He was a good man and a loving father. I think he cared very much for his family and did the best he could for them with the skills and knowledge he had. The Ingalls family had a horrible run of bad luck - crop failure, illness, etc. It isn't as though he could control the weather or the economy. I think it is very easy for us to look back with our 21st century eyes and misjudge him.

 

As I've gotten older the one I dislike is Ma. She is always so strict and cold. Thank goodness Pa was there to inject some love and warm-heartedness into their lives. And the fiddle playing! Could you imagine how looooonnnggg and boring the nights  would have been without the music he made? 

 

Also, I thought I read somewhere that the timeline was off for Pa to have been involved in the vigilante justice with the Bender family? I own the new Prairie Girl book - I'll have to go check and see if it is talked about in it.

 

The worst was when Ma made Laura give the one nice doll she'd ever had to the snot that was visiting.  

  • Like 7
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Wow! I'm surprised by all the Pa hate going on here. :(

 

He was a good man and a loving father. I think he cared very much for his family and did the best he could for them with the skills and knowledge he had. The Ingalls family had a horrible run of bad luck - crop failure, illness, etc. It isn't as though he could control the weather or the economy. I think it is very easy for us to look back with our 21st century eyes and misjudge him.

 

As I've gotten older the one I dislike is Ma. She is always so strict and cold. Thank goodness Pa was there to inject some love and warm-heartedness into their lives. And the fiddle playing! Could you imagine how looooonnnggg and boring the nights would have been without the music he made?

 

Also, I thought I read somewhere that the timeline was off for Pa to have been involved in the vigilante justice with the Bender family? I own the new Prairie Girl book - I'll have to go check and see if it is talked about in it.

I agree with all of this!!

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Wow! I'm surprised by all the Pa hate going on here. :(

 

He was a good man and a loving father. I think he cared very much for his family and did the best he could for them with the skills and knowledge he had. The Ingalls family had a horrible run of bad luck - crop failure, illness, etc. It isn't as though he could control the weather or the economy. I think it is very easy for us to look back with our 21st century eyes and misjudge him.

 

As I've gotten older the one I dislike is Ma. She is always so strict and cold. Thank goodness Pa was there to inject some love and warm-heartedness into their lives. And the fiddle playing! Could you imagine how looooonnnggg and boring the nights  would have been without the music he made? 

 

Also, I thought I read somewhere that the timeline was off for Pa to have been involved in the vigilante justice with the Bender family? I own the new Prairie Girl book - I'll have to go check and see if it is talked about in it.

 

I can see your points...but he chose to take on the pioneer life. Lots of folks at that time were staying near towns and making a living in stores, doing carpentry, etc. He chose a harder life than he had to.  I admire that, but at what cost?

 

I think Charles was portrayed as a kind and loving father but was he in real life or is that the fictional Pa? 

 

I know he and Ma worked really hard all day long but I saw the fiddle playing as an escape with no utility except entertainment. What did Caroline do for entertainment? She sewed. Sure, she *might* have enjoyed it but it was done for a purpose and not for recreation like I sew. So I kind of felt like Charles was able to indulge in fiddle playing but Caroline continued to work. Yeah, that's a harsh judgement but I saw it in my childhood and we see it today- how many moms work up until bedtime while the dads don't?

 

But that's me looking at him through 21st century eyes- you're so right that it's easy to misjudge sitting here in the lap of luxury with hindsight. 

 

This has been the most enjoyable thread in ages!!

  • Like 6
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The worst was when Ma made Laura give the one nice doll she'd ever had to the snot that was visiting.  

 

I hated that part. But parents --even today-- sometimes misjudge how attached their kids are to specific toys. (I'm well aware of  how many more toys children today have.) And sometimes, even today, they give in to whiny younger children just to keep the peace. As someone else said, Laura's mother apologized and made things right to the best of her ability, Which is what parents do when they make mistakes. The fact that she tried to fix the situation makes me not think she was so cold as she's portrayed.

Edited by Reluctant Homeschooler
  • Like 7
Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

 

Also, I thought I read somewhere that the timeline was off for Pa to have been involved in the vigilante justice with the Bender family? I own the new Prairie Girl book - I'll have to go check and see if it is talked about in it.

 

Yeah, the timeline is off for Pa to have been involved with that.  That said, like many writers I don't think Laura was one to let the truth get in the way of a good story.  It's also possible that Pa had that same trait and rather than Laura making it up later, it was something she heard when the adults were sitting around and telling stories.  

 

http://www.mhpbooks.com/laura-ingalls-wilder-and-the-bloody-benders-truth-or-fiction/

 

 

 

This anecdote was only ever republished in 1988’s A Little House Sampler, until it was reproduced in the new edition of Pioneer Girl. It’s creepy, cinematic, and likely untrue.In their review of Pioneer Girl, the Christian Science Monitor refers to the episode as “pure fiction – an account Wilder added to her manuscript at one point, in an attempt to appeal to adult audiences by linking the Wilders to a sensational news story of the day.†The Ingalls family did indeed leave Kansas to return to Wisconsin long before the discovery of the Benders’ house of horrors, which makes Laura’s story rather difficult to swallow. Whether or not Pa Ingalls ever met the Benders during their brief stay in Independence is impossible to verify. However, some sketchily cited census data does indicate that the tragically fated George Longcor (documented as “G.N. Lunkerâ€) lived in Rutland Township in 1870, which would have made him close neighbors with the Ingallses, written in the census as the “Ingles†family. What’s more likely is that Ingalls’ memories were bolstered by family oral history and legend, which then partially absorbed the tale of the Benders due to proximity after it made national news.
  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I just spent way too much time reading about the "Bloody Benders." Great fodder for a horror movie!

 

You and me both! Fascinating stuff. I was particularly interested to read about how Ma Bender's previous husbands had gone missing, how Kate Bender was into spiritualism and seances, and how people who were suspicious of the Benders narrowly escaped with their lives. 

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I know he and Ma worked really hard all day long but I saw the fiddle playing as an escape with no utility except entertainment. What did Caroline do for entertainment? She sewed. Sure, she *might* have enjoyed it but it was done for a purpose and not for recreation like I sew. So I kind of felt like Charles was able to indulge in fiddle playing but Caroline continued to work. Yeah, that's a harsh judgement but I saw it in my childhood and we see it today- how many moms work up until bedtime while the dads don't?

 

AS for fiddle plaing being an escape with no utility -- how about entertaining the kids (who would dance along and use up extra energy.), keeping them out of Mom's hair while she sewed, and it being enjoyable to listen. Even today, I like putting in a CD to listen to or a DVD on TV while working on a craft.

  • Like 12
Link to comment
Share on other sites

AS for fiddle plaing being an escape with no utility -- how about entertaining the kids (who would dance along and use up extra energy.), keeping them out of Mom's hair while she sewed, and it being enjoyable to listen. Even today, I like putting in a CD to listen to or a DVD on TV while working on a craft.

 

That was what I was thinking.  It's not like she could sit down and sew during the day.  Yes she was still working but surely was more "off-guard"  than any other point during the day.  Besides, I don't think either of them is the type to just sit idly by.  Sewing wouldn't take any of the enjoyment away from sitting down and resting and listing to music at the end of the day. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

AS for fiddle plaing being an escape with no utility -- how about entertaining the kids (who would dance along and use up extra energy.), keeping them out of Mom's hair while she sewed, and it being enjoyable to listen. Even today, I like putting in a CD to listen to or a DVD on TV while working on a craft.

Yes this!! I was thinking that if we only did that which was utilitarian our lives would be dull!! I need music and beauty in my life to accompany the practicalities. They are essentials. I would imagine storytelling and music were very essential during that time. How thankful Ma must have been that he had that gift.

  • Like 7
Link to comment
Share on other sites

And wasn't Ma a reader? I seem to recall her reading stories from the newspapers and magazines, or having the girls read to her as they were older.

Yes. I think it was in Long Winter maybe where they received several newspapers or magazines with a continuing story and they would read one per day and save them to kind of break the monotony of their days. Ma encouraged it.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've always been struck by the difference between the Ingall's farms and that of Almonzo's parents. And I think Caroline came from a successful family too, didn't she? Maybe he wanted a life like that and needed to find a better place to make it happen, which he never did.

 

According to a letter written by Grace Ingalls Dow, Caroline’s maternal grandmother, Martha Morse, was a Scottish laird’s daughter.  If she was, she certainly married down. Her husband was a blacksmith.  Caroline’s mother, Charlotte worked as a seamstress before marrying Henry N. Quiner.  If the family was prosperous would she have been working outside the home?

 

Quiner was a silversmith turned trader.  His death left Charlotte and six children destitute on the Wisconsin frontier.  The family faired better after Charlotte married Frederick Holbrook.  But there were still hard years.  Caroline must have had some respect for for stepfather, she named her son Charles Frederick.  

 

In Little City by the Lake, Caroline attended Milwaukee Female College while living with her paternal uncle's family.  If this is not a fictional eposide, why didn't she stay in the city?  Did she really want to go back to the frontier or was there pressure from her mother and stepfather to return and start earning money?  

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The OP's dd is six years old.

 

I think most of us here are old enough to feel simultaneous but contradictory love for our memories of these books and awareness that they might not be the best choice of age-appropriate reading matter.

 

Here are the links to the beautiful picture books I recommended upthread, O.P.:

 

http://www.amazon.com/s/184-1694699-2804544?ie=UTF8&field-keywords=Renee%20Graef%20My%20first%20little%20House]&index=blended&sourceid=Mozilla-search

 

As long as I live, I will treasure the memories of my late sister learning how to read the originals when she was your dd's age, playing Laura and Mary with her all through our childhood, picking out the fabric for our Laura and Mary Halloween costumes, my sister's love for the stories blossoming into her embracing the back-to-the-land movement in the '70s and pouring over Mother Earth News and buying land in Ken Carey's intentional community a few miles away from Rocky Ridge farm, which my older children, parents, and I visited as a sort of Laura Mecca.

 

I do not have fond memories of my sister's premature death in her 20s. I do not have fond memories of the fact that it could have been prevented with medical care that she could have had a low enough income to qualify for.

 

Rose was a talented author but subtle libertarian propaganda, no matter how pretty, is not what I choose to read to my own small child, nor do I think I am some sort of "special snowflake" or post this anecdote because I think it is some unique personal tragedy.

 

ds8 also recommends Betsy-Tacy and Milly-Molly-Mandy. They're growing on me. I look forward to reading them to my as-yet-unconceived grandbabies.

Edited by Guest
  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've always been struck by the difference between the Ingall's farms and that of Almonzo's parents. And I think Caroline came from a successful family too, didn't she? Maybe he wanted a life like that and needed to find a better place to make it happen, which he never did.

The Boston relatives had money. Her father didn't start out with much, but he did work up quite a bit before he was killed, and then bam, financial woes. But Holbrook - the step dad - went on to be successful.

 

That De-Laine dress that was described in Big Woods? It was confirmed that Ma did own that gown, and even if her mother, a very fine seamstress, made it the fabric and buttons were super expensive. So at that point, Holbrook must have been doing well.

 

Almanzo's parents were solidly middle class on the farm in NY, but something happened, not sure what, that made them go west. They didn't do as well, and then Eliza Jane got it in her head that there was going to be a fortune to be made rice farming in Louisiana, convinced them to invest heavily, and they lost their shirts. They were practically destitute after that.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I had no idea that two of Caroline's siblings married two of Charles' siblings, and that Ma and Pa were not the first to get married of the three sets.  What was the story behind that?  Any idea?  They always seemed like such a mismatch to me.

 

sounds like a classic witch's curse

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I had no idea that two of Caroline's siblings married two of Charles' siblings, and that Ma and Pa were not the first to get married of the three sets.  What was the story behind that?  Any idea?  They always seemed like such a mismatch to me.

It made a bunch of double cousins for Laura and her sisters which is a bit odd. Makes for a not so branchy family tree.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I had no idea that two of Caroline's siblings married two of Charles' siblings, and that Ma and Pa were not the first to get married of the three sets.  What was the story behind that?  Any idea?  They always seemed like such a mismatch to me.

 

I always thought that if you lived in a remote area and there was two big families with boys and girls all around the same age than it would be perfectly natural for lots of them marry into the other family.

  • Like 10
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I had no idea that two of Caroline's siblings married two of Charles' siblings, and that Ma and Pa were not the first to get married of the three sets.  What was the story behind that?  Any idea?  They always seemed like such a mismatch to me.

I always imagined there there wasn't a plentiful selection to pick a spouse, but I'm only guessing.  Makes a unique family reunion.  ;)

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I always thought that if you lived in a remote area and there was two big families with boys and girls all around the same age than it would be perfectly natural for lots of them marry into the other family.

:iagree:

 

It wasn’t uncommon for siblings to marry siblings in remote locations.  The pool of potential mates was limited.  That the Quiner-Holbrook and Ingalls farms were adjacent was probably also a factor.  They had more opportunity to interact with each other than they did with young people who lived farther away.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

And since when do moms get to sit around and entertain themselves when they have little kids?  I don't recall doing any of that.

 

Well, there's posting on a chat board, which we are all doing right now.  I don't make any bones about the fact that I do choose to entertain myself with reading and other hobbies.  Ma was working almost all of the time even when her kids were older and helping her.  Because there is always something to be done on a freaking prairie or in a tiny town with no modern conveniences.  The long winter may have been the most restful book but for that whole nearly dying of starvation thing.  That puts a crimp on one's leisure.  I found the description of what the townsmen were going to do if the shopkeeper scalped that feed wheat to be very telling.  If he hadn't relented to sell at just above his cost, I'm quite sure they would have taken the wheat anyway, by force or otherwise.  

 

Modern moms may be harried but we have a lot more help around the house now than then.  Would not want to dial back the clock.  

  • Like 9
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I had no idea that two of Caroline's siblings married two of Charles' siblings, and that Ma and Pa were not the first to get married of the three sets.  What was the story behind that?  Any idea?  They always seemed like such a mismatch to me.

 

Families with double cousins were much more common then.  There are some on my family tree.  

 

It often was a question of sheer proximity and limited choices in terms of who to marry.  Other times it was a way to bind two families assets/businesses/land together, be they meager or large assets.  

  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

:iagree:

 

It wasn’t uncommon for siblings to marry siblings in remote locations.  The pool of potential mates was limited.  That the Quiner-Holbrook and Ingalls farms were adjacent was probably also a factor.  They had more opportunity to interact with each other than they did with young people who lived farther away.

 

I didn't realize they were neighbors.  Makes sense then that you would (at that time) marry the boy/girl next door.   I had always been under the impression that they met and married back east.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The Boston relatives had money. Her father didn't start out with much, but he did work up quite a bit before he was killed, and then bam, financial woes. But Holbrook - the step dad - went on to be successful.

 

That De-Laine dress that was described in Big Woods? It was confirmed that Ma did own that gown, and even if her mother, a very fine seamstress, made it the fabric and buttons were super expensive. So at that point, Holbrook must have been doing well.

 

Almanzo's parents were solidly middle class on the farm in NY, but something happened, not sure what, that made them go west. They didn't do as well, and then Eliza Jane got it in her head that there was going to be a fortune to be made rice farming in Louisiana, convinced them to invest heavily, and they lost their shirts. They were practically destitute after that.

 

I'm following you around on this thread, Faith!

 

We went to the Wilder farm last summer, and this is the very first question I asked. Why in the world did they leave NY?! Pretty typical answer...several years of bad crops, and the promise of more prosperity in Minnesota. 

 

Also interesting to note is that hops were the primary crop on their farm. Not a fact that would make it into a children's book published during Prohibition!   ;)

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...