HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: The Ingalls Family: from Plum Creek to Walnut Grove via Burr Oak, Iowa
Author: Irene V. Lichty
Publisher: Laura Ingalls Wilder—Rose Wilder Lane Home and Museum, 1970
Language level: 1 (nothing objectionable)
Reading level: Ages 8 and above
Rating: 5 stars (EXCELLENT)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Lichty, Irene V. The Ingalls Family: from Plum Creek to Walnut Grove via Burr Oak, Iowa (published in 1970 by the Laura Ingalls Wilder—Rose Wilder Lane Home and Museum, Mansfield, MO 65704). We have had the privilege of visiting the Laura Ingalls Wilder—Rose Wilder Lane Home and Museum in Mansfield, MO, twice. The first time was in 1985 while on a trip from Ohio to California, when we purchased this little booklet, and again a few years ago during a homeschool campout at the Lake of the Ozarks State Park in Missouri. When Laura Ingalls Wilder was writing her chronicle of her family’s travels during her childhood, Little House in the Big Woods is about their early days in Wisconsin. Little House on the Prairie tells about their attempt to settle in Kansas. On the Banks of Plum Creek records their return to Wisconsin and move to Plum Creek near Walnut Grove, MN. By the Shores of Silver Lake has them moving to DeSmet in the Dakota Territory.
However, historians know that there were some two years between On the Banks of Plum Creek and By the Shores of Silver Lake which are not mentioned in the books. During that time the Ingalls lived in Burr Oak, IA, then returned to Walnut Grove. Why is that omitted? Laura’s daughter, Rose Wilder Lane, explained it. “My Mother could not possibly have written about everything that happened even in her ‘growing up’ years; another fact is, that although the publishers had accepted my Mother’s book as she wrote it, they later refused to publish it without changing Mary’s and Laura’s ages. Their contention was that no child under five had a memory and that little girls so young could not have been doing the things my Mother wrote of. My mother and I held out and fought for the facts but to save the story, Little House in the Big Woods, Mother finally consented to change the ages and make Mary and Laura two years older than they were. So to make up those years, she omitted the two years, more or less, spent at Burr Oak, Iowa, and a short time spent in the town of Walnut Grove. All that my Mother wrote was truth although she could not write everything that happened in her childhood.”
Irene V. Lichty, who, with her husband L. D. Lichty, was the original curator of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Home and Museum, wrote this simple description of an undocumented time in the life of Laura Ingalls Wilder for the many readers of the Little House books who might be interested in that “lost” period of time. The information came from Irene’s visits with Mrs. Wilder, letters from Rose, some writings by Mrs. Wilder, and personal visits to the places mentioned in the booklet. There are a few photographs of the Ingalls family, buildings in Burr Oak, historical sites related to Laura, and some of Laura’s artifacts now in the museum. Cynthia Rylant has nicely fictionalized this same period of time in Old Town in the Green Groves. The booklet is not only essential for those who enjoy reading about the life of Laura Ingalls Wilder but also helpful in understanding the kind of lives experienced by those who settled the prairies of this nation.