Today’s post comes from Cody White, archivist at the National Archives at Denver.
Today marks the 178th anniversary of Charles Ingalls’s birth!
A simple farmer born in Cuba, New York, Ingalls would have likely languished in obscurity had not his second-born daughter Laura taken her childhood recollections and parried them into a timeless and award-winning series of children’s books.
In this page from a register of homestead receipts from the Dakota Territory, we see the line entry for the Ingalls homestead in DeSmet, South Dakota, the family’s final stop in a long series of homes that stretched across present-day Wisconsin, Iowa, Kansas, and Minnesota.
Several years after proving up on his claim, Ingalls moved into town where he worked a variety of jobs before passing away in 1902. The DeSmet News ended his obituary with this description: “As a citizen he held high esteem, being honest and upright in his dealings and associations with his fellows. As a friend and neighbor he was always kind and courteous, and a faithful and loving husband and father.”
For those fans of Little House on the Prairie, Pa’s DeSmet homestead is a tourist attraction today, still featuring the original cabin Charles Ingalls built for his family over 120 years ago.
The National Archives also holds the papers of Laura Ingalls Wilder and her daughter, Rose Wilder Lane, at the Hoover Presidential Library.