By Cynthia Hornig – I have a confession… I did not watch ‘Little House on the Prairie’, nor did I read any of the ‘Little House’ books. American frontier life just wasn’t for me… as a subject of interest or entertainment. My revelation, which surprised everyone on our team, came up during a conversation about today – February 7 (in 1867) – being the birthdate of author and ‘Pioneer Girl’, Laura Ingalls Wilder. So I decided to set aside my indifference toward covered wagons and petticoats and learn more about this woman I should know.

5 Things I Discovered About Laura Ingalls Wilder

Laura Ingalls Wilder

Laura Ingalls Wilder, ca. 1930

More than a pioneer of the land

Laura was the sole breadwinner of her family. She and her husband Almanzo made a down payment on a 40-acre place with $100 saved from Laura’s job as a seamstress. They named the homestead “Rocky Ridge Farm”, where Laura wrote the Little House book series.

Age is just a number

Laura was 65 years old when she wrote her first book, Little House In The Big Woods, which was based on stories told to her and her sisters by their “Pa”. She finished the last book in the series at the age of 76.

Failure fuels success

Going from seamstress to author was no easy feat. In the late 1920’s Laura was encouraged by her daughter Rose to write down the story of her childhood. She wrote an autobiography called Pioneer Girl, a first-person account of her time as a child on the frontier. Unfortunately, publishers and agents ultimately rejected the book for being too boring, but she persisted. Pioneer Girl became the foundation for the Little House series.

Critics shmitics

Little House in the Big Woods, which was called “juvenile” by critics, was the first volume of an American family saga that has since sold about sixty million copies and translated into thirty-three languages.

Inspiring generations

Our very own WYSKette Stella Ehrhart was reading Laura Ingalls Wilder’s “Little House” series when she was inspired to start her tradition of dressing up as famous women in history. The first woman Stella dressed-up as was Laura Ingalls Wilder.

What I have learned from my research is that Laura Ingalls Wilder was, by and large, a happy person, who loved her life. She understood hard work and hard times, which the memories of, she seamlessly wove into her cherished stories. So while I still have no interest in watching Little House on the Prairie, I am however inspired to read the books. I will end with this quote, which seems to perfectly sum up Laura’s approach to life…something we can all learn from.

“The true way to live is to enjoy every moment as it passes, and surely it is in the everyday things around us that the beauty of life lies.”

Cynthia Hornig is Co-Founder and Editorial Director of Women You Should Know. Images via Herbert Hoover Presidential Library National Archives. Lead image: Laura and Almanzo Wilder in Florida, ca. 1892.