chapter  1
A Home in the West: The 1860s
Pages 20

Long after her father’s death, Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote to her daughter, fellow writer Rose Wilder Lane, “Pa was no business man. He was a hunter and a trapper, a musician and a poet.” 1

Charles Phillip Ingalls may have been no businessman, but to his admiring daughter (and likeminded, globetrotting granddaughter), he was the consummate pioneer: an undaunted farmer and jack-of-all trades; an optimistic man brimming with energy and talent; a devoted husband and father; a respected citizen; and a fast friend. But perhaps his most significant personality trait, at least in terms of his daughter’s future development, was what Wilder would describe in her novels as Charles’s “wandering foot.” For it was Charles Ingalls’s impulsivity, restlessness, and faith in greener pastures that led to Wilder’s own itinerant childhood on the western frontier and, ultimately, to the transformation of her experiences there into landmark American literature.