Charles was born January 10, 1836 in Canada as the second of nine children.
His mother was a descendant of Edmund Rice (an early immigrant to the Massachusetts Bay Colony).
His grandmother on his fathers side was Margaret Delano, a descendant of Mayflower passenger Richard Warren.
At a young age, his growing family moved south to New York, then headed west to the tallgrass prairie of Campton (just west of modern Elgin, Illinois).
Charles grew into a high-spirited, outgoing man, with a love of music and reading, and became an accomplished hunter-trapper, carpenter and farmer.
On February 1, 1860, Charles married a neighbor, the quiet and proper Caroline Quiner.
For his entire life, Charles had a strong case of “wanderlust”.
He is quoted as saying:
“My wandering foot gets to itching”.
On January 10, 1865, near the town of Pepin, Wisconsin, wife Caroline gave birth to a daughter they named Mary Amelia.
Charles loved traveling and didn’t like living among big crowds of people, so with his family in the early years of his marriage, he traveled a great deal and often changed homes.
From their original home in the woods of Wisconsin, Charles moved his family to Indian Territory in southeastern Kansas, then back to Wisconsin.
On February 7, 1867, seven miles north of the village of Pepin, in the “Big Woods” of Wisconsin, his wife Caroline gave birth to a daughter they named Laura Elizabeth.
Charles then moved his family to southern Minnesota, then for a year to Burr Oak, Iowa, then back to Minnesota.
Presented with a job opportunity in Dakota Territory, Charles longed to move yet again, as his family was struggling financially in Minnesota.
His wife Caroline agreed, but extracted a promise from her husband that this would be their last move.
Caroline was not only tired of moving from place to place herself but, as a former schoolteacher, she also feared her children would never get a proper education unless the family put down roots somewhere.
Charles agreed, and the family settled down for good in 1879 at De Smet, South Dakota.
Together Charles and Caroline had five children: Mary, Laura, Carrie, Charles Frederick “Freddie”, and Grace. Freddie died as an infant in 1876.
In 1879, eldest daughter Mary Amelia suffered an illness described as “a severe case of measles” which precipitated a stroke, resulting in her lifelong blindness.
In 1881 Mary attended the Iowa Braille and Sight Saving School in Vinton, Iowa.
Mary graduated, then she returned home to De Smet, South Dakota and lived with her parents until their deaths.
In 1885, second daughter Laura married Almanzo Wilder, whom she called Manly, on August 25 when she was eighteen and he was twenty-eight years old.
On December 5, 1886, Laura and Manly had a daughter they named Rose.
Charles stayed with farming in De Smet for several years, but after he had “proved up” on his claim, he sold the farm and built a home on Third Street in De Smet, where he lived out the rest of his days.
Over the years he also held various elected positions in the town of De Smet, including Justice of the Peace and Deputy Sheriff.
He operated a retail store in De Smet for a few years and lastly, sold insurance.
Charles Phillip Ingalls died on June 8, 1902, of heart disease, at the age of 66. He was buried at De Smet Cemetery.
Charles Ingalls granddaughter Rose inspired her mother Laura to begin to write. An invitation to submit an article to the Missouri Ruralist in 1911 led Laura to a permanent position as a columnist and editor.
Laura’s column in the Ruralist, “As a Farm Woman Thinks,” introduced her to a loyal audience of rural Ozarkians, who enjoyed her regular columns, whose topics ranged from home and family to World War I and other world events, to the fascinating world travels of her daughter and her own thoughts on the increasing options offered to women during this era.
Laura Ingalls Wilder, published her children’s novel Little House on the Prairie in 1935 and the rest is history.
Now WE know em
Charles Ingalls will always be remembered as “Pa” portrayed by Michael Landon in the television series Little House on the Prairie and its movie sequels.