Charles, Caroline and Mary Ingalls grave

Charles Phillip Ingalls (January 10, 1836, Cuba, New York – June 8, 1902, De Smet, South Dakota) was the father of Laura Ingalls Wilder, known for her Little House on the Prairie series of books. Ingalls is depicted as the character "Pa" in the series.

Ingalls was the second of nine children of Landsford Whiting Ingalls (1812-1896) and Laura Louise Colby Ingalls (1810-1883), both of whom appear (as "Grandpa" and "Grandma", respectively) in the book Little House in the Big Woods. Landsford was born in Canada; Laura was born in Vermont. Landsford’s mother was Margaret Delano, of the famed Delano family, and was a descendant of Mayflower passenger Richard Warren. In the 1840s, when Ingalls was a young boy, his family moved from New York to the tallgrass prairie of Campton Township, just west of Elgin, Illinois.

On February 1, 1860 Ingalls married Caroline Quiner. They had five children: Mary, Laura, Carrie, Charles Frederick "Freddy", and Grace. Freddy died as an infant.

Ingalls had for his entire life a strong case of "wanderlust". He is quoted by Laura in her Little House series of books as saying: "My wandering foot gets to itching". He 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 married home in the woods of Wisconsin, he moved his family first to Indian Territory in southeastern Kansas, then back to Wisconsin, then to southern Minnesota, then for a year to Burr Oak, Iowa, then back to Minnesota. Presented with a job opportunity in Dakota Territory, he longed to move yet again, as the family was struggling in Minnesota. Caroline agreed, but extracted a promise from her husband that this would be their last move. She was not only tired of moving from place to place herself, she feared her children would never get a proper education unless the family put down roots somewhere. Ingalls agreed, and the family settled down for good in De Smet, South Dakota. He 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. He died on June 8, 1902 of heart disease at the age of 66. He was buried at De Smet Cemetery.


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