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Caroline Lake Ingalls (/ˈɪŋɡəlz/; née Quiner; December 12, 1839 – April 20, 1924) was the mother of Laura Ingalls Wilder, author of the Little House books.[citation needed]

Caroline Ingalls
Caroline and Charles Ingalls sepia cropped.jpg
Caroline Quiner Ingalls with her husband Charles Phillip Ingalls
Caroline Lake Quiner

(1839-12-12)December 12, 1839
DiedApril 20, 1924(1924-04-20) (aged 84)
Charles Phillip Ingalls
(m. 1860; his death 1902)
  • Henry Quiner
  • Charlotte Quiner Holbrook (née Tucker)



Historical marker at the place of Caroline Ingalls's birth
For information on the relatives, see : List of real-life individuals from Little House on the Prairie[citation needed]

Caroline was born 15 miles west of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in the Town of Brookfield, Waukesha County.[1] She was the fifth of seven children of Henry Quiner and Charlotte (Tucker) Quiner. Her brothers were Joseph, Henry, and Thomas, and her sisters were Martha Jane and Eliza (the Quiners' first child, Martha Morse Quiner, died in 1836).[2]

When Caroline was 5, her father died in an accident, reportedly on Lake Michigan near the Straits of Mackinac. In 1849, her mother married Frederick Holbrook, a farmer who lived nearby.[2] They had one child together, Charlotte "Lottie" Holbrook. Caroline evidently loved and respected her stepfather, and would later honor his memory by naming her son after him.[citation needed][3] At the age of 16 1/2, Caroline started working as a teacher.


On February 1, 1860, she married Charles Phillip Ingalls.[4] Together they had five children: Mary Amelia, Laura Elizabeth, Caroline Celestia (Carrie), Charles Frederick (Freddie), and Grace Pearl.[citation needed][5][6]

Freddie IngallsEdit

Freddie Ingalls
Charles Frederick Ingalls

(1875-11-01)November 1, 1875
Walnut Grove, Minnesota,
United States
DiedAugust 27, 1876 (9 months, 26 days)
South Troy, Minnesota,
United States
Parent(s)Caroline Ingalls (mother)
Charles Ingalls (father)

Charles Frederick "Freddie" Ingalls was born on November 1, 1875, in Walnut Grove, Minnesota, and died August 27, 1876, in South Troy, Minnesota, of indeterminate causes.[citation needed]

In her autobiography Pioneer Girl,[7] Laura remembers that "Little Brother was not well" and that "one terrible day, he straightened out his little body and was dead". Wilder scholar William Anderson noted: "Nearly forty years after Freddie's death, Ma mourned him, telling relatives how different everything would be 'if Freddie had lived'."[8]

Travels and later yearsEdit

The Ingalls family traveled by covered wagon from Wisconsin; Kansas (Indian Territory); Burr Oak, Iowa; and Minnesota. In 1879, they settled in De Smet in Dakota Territory.

Final home of Caroline Ingalls, built by Charles in 1887, and located in De Smet, South Dakota

After arriving in De Smet, Caroline and the Ingalls family lived in the home of the local surveyor as well as a store in the downtown area, before homesteading just outside town on a farm by Silver Lake. When the Ingalls family sold the farm due to a persistent pattern of dry years, Charles built a home for them on Third Street in De Smet, known later as "The House That Pa Built".[9] Following her husband's death from heart disease in 1902 at age 66, Ingalls and her oldest daughter, Mary, remained in the De Smet house, renting one of the rooms for extra income. Following a long illness, Caroline Ingalls died on Easter Sunday, April 20, 1924, at the age of 84.[citation needed]

In the mediaEdit

The fictional series The Caroline Years, an extension of the Little House series, by Maria D. Wilkes and Celia Wilkins, follows Caroline Quiner from her fifth year to her late teens, up to her engagement to Charles. The first title in the series is Little House in Brookfield.[10]


  • Robynne Elizabeth Miller (2015). From the Mouth of Ma: A Search for Caroline Quiner Ingalls. Practical Pioneer Press. ISBN 978-0-692-58065-3.
  1. ^ "Young historian traces residence of author's mom". The Journal Times. December 12, 1996.
  2. ^ a b "Laura Ingalls Wilder Homepage". Retrieved September 26, 2015.[better source needed]
  3. ^ Van Haaften, Jennifer (Spring 2017). "Re-examining the American Pioneer Spirit: The Extended Family of Laura Ingalls Wilder". Wisconsin Magazine of History. 100 (3): 4–11 – via Wisconsin Historical Society.
  4. ^ Schremp, Valerie (January 27, 2002). "Looking for Laura". Saint Louis Post-Dispatch.
  5. ^ Powers, Pamela (May 24, 1998). "Tracing her travels". Leader-Telegram.
  6. ^ Hoffman, Joy (November 29, 1974). "'Little House' books, author interest aided by tv series". Leader-Telegram.
  7. ^ "Wilder, Laura Ingalls (1867–1957), Papers, 1894–1943 (C3633)" (PDF). State Historical Society of Missouri. Retrieved September 26, 2015.
  8. ^ Anderson, William (1989). Laura Ingalls Wilder: The Iowa Story. Laura Ingalls Wilder Park & Museum. p. 7. ASIN 096100889X.CS1 maint: ASIN uses ISBN (link)
  9. ^ Potter, Constance (Winter 2003). "Genealogy Notes: De Smet, Dakota Territory, Little Town in the National Archives". Prologue Magazine. The National Archives. 35 (4).
  10. ^ Wilkes, Maria D. Little House in Brookfield. New York: HarperTrophy. ISBN 0-06-440610-5.

External linksEdit