Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0

Any Little House fans here?

11 posts in this topic

This is totally not dollhouse related, but absolutely fascinating. To me, anyway.

I've read and reread the Little House books for years. I've read everything I can find about Laura Ingalls WIlder and I thought I knew just about everything about her life. Turns out there's a lot of things I didn't know. Did you guys know Carrie, her little sister, loved traveling and did so whenever she could?

There's another person I hadn't considered and that was Laura's husband, Almanzo Wilder.

I got interested in him simply because I've always been interested in horses and I wanted to know whether Prince and Lady, Almanzo's Morgan horses, really existed or were just made up for the books.

I don't know how much anyone here knows about Morgan horses, so I'll start with the basics. Morgans are an American breed of horse. They started with the birth of a little stallion in 1789, In 1792, this little stallion, named Figure, was sold to a traveling school teacher, Justin Morgan, in payment of a debt. As time went on, Figure was said to out pull, out trot, and out run anything in the area where he lived in Vermont.

He was a small stallion with a high crest and very muscled. He was incredibly prepotent, meaning that his colts and fillies looked just like him and had the same pulling and trotting abilities. When he died, he was named Justin Morgan after his owner and his descendants were named Morgan horses. Here's where it gets interesting and I'm going to quote some things from an article I read. For anyone who's read Farmer Boy, you know that Almanzo's boyhood home was in Malone, New York.

 "It was Abel (Wilder, Almanzo's grandfather) who established the Wilder farm in Malone, Franklin County, New York, and the tradition of Morgan horses began with him or his father, both of whom may well have known the original Justin Morgan horse and certainly they knew his offspring."

"At the time James Wilder (Almanzo's father) was born in 1813, the family was living near Milton, Vermont, within 70 or 80 miles of where the Justin Morgan horse stood at that time. They moved to Malone, New York, when James was four years old and it is likely that the farm horses they brought with them included sons and daughters of old Justin Morgan."

"Here the story becomes even more remarkable, for Angelina (Almanzo's mother), born in 1819, was the daughter of Justin Day II and Diademia Bateman. Justin Day was a grandson of Ezekiel Day, a brother of Thankful Day, the mother of Justin Morgan, the singing master who owned the original Justin Morgan horse who bore his name. And Luke Day, another brother of Ezekiel and Thankful, was the father of Martha Day, who was Justin Morgan’s wife (and first cousin). So, Almanzo Wilder was not only raised with the tradition of the earliest Morgan horses—he was in fact a relative of Justin Morgan, the man who became famous for his horse. 

The Wilders were considered prosperous farmers in Franklin County and were known for the quality of their Morgan horses."

In other words, there were three children: Ezekiel, Thankful, and Luke. Thankful was the mother of Justin Morgan (the teacher) and Luke was the father of Justin Morgan's wife. Ezekiel was the grandfather of Justin Day II, who was Angelina Day's grandfather.

There are several "lines" of Morgan horses today.

"While the exact bloodlines of the Wilder Morgans are not recorded, another interesting link is that the James Wilder family was also related to Levi Wilder (1798 - 1876) of Lyndon, Vermont,  who is mentioned several times in Volume I of the Morgan Horse Registry."  Following this is several pedigrees.  "They are also found in most of the Lippitt and Lambert lines. Levi was a distant cousin of Almanzo’s father, James, and, as the Wilders maintained connections with a large extended family, it is also possible they may at some time have obtained horses from him."

As an aside, when I first came up to the Bay Area in 1975, I boarded, and still remain friends with, Becky Hart, who is well known in endurance racing. At the time, she owned a Morgan mare that I got to ride from the Lippitt line.

Almanzo kept Morgans on his farm in Missouri, although the exact breeding isn't known because the Morgan Registry itself wasn't started until the early 1900s.

I find this fascinating because there are people who are very involved with Morgan horses but don't know the connection to the Wilder family. Likewise, there are many, many fans of the Little House books and don't know of the connection of Laura's husband to Justin Morgan. I guess this is a Now You Know moment. LOL

And here's something else I found just poking around. After Laura and Almanzo lost everything in De Smet, they went to stay with his parents who were farming in Spring Valley, MN at the time. Now in Spring Valley, there is a bike ride called the Almanzo 100 that goes through the countryside. The last I heard, there was going to be another bike ride called the Royal 162, named for Almanzo's brother Royal, that will be 162 miles long.

And by the way, Prince and Lady were real. When Laura and Almanzo left South Dakota for Missouri, Prince was still alive at that time and went with them.

I thought this might be interesting for everyone here.


 

 

 

 

2 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Many years ago, there was a show called, "The Wonderful World of Disney" that had some fascinating shows.  Along with Chip and Dale, Donald Duck, "Charlie, the Lonesome Cougar", Spin and Marty and there were also educational pieces.  One was called, "Justin Morgan Had a Horse".  I've seen it listed on Ebay.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

When my children were young, I used to read books to them (a chapter or two every day). There was one book that was a biography about Laura Ingalls Wilder (I think her daughter wrote it). What I remember most was crying as I read it to them... happened with a few of the books we read. I also read them a book about the Morgan horse. We got it from the library. Don't remember if I cried over that one, but animal stories often make me shed a tear.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Very interesting post.  I was a huge fan of the Little House books growing up.  So much so that my parents finally bought me the complete set so that I could wear out my own books instead of the library's.  We lived not far from where the Ingalls family lived in On the Banks of Plum Creek.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Emily, I know I've read Pioneer Girl at least twice and I think I've read the other book as well. I'm more interested in Laura's life as she was growing up. So many biographies seem to focus on her relationship with her daughter, though.

Deborah, my grandparents had a farm in Okabena, MN. It's also not too far from Walnut Grove. I wish I had gone through there when I was in Minnesota, but I sort of got suckered into visiting friends in Bemidji (which was fine) and headed north instead of south when I left the Twin CIties.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
48 minutes ago, rodentraiser said:

my grandparents had a farm in Okabena, MN

Well, I had to look that one up!  :)  Turns out it's just a little ways off Highway 71, which we used to take back and forth to my grandparents' in Iowa.  I have to say, Bemidji is probably a good bit prettier, but if you ever get the chance, it might be fun to visit the museum in Walnut Grove.   I used to like watching the TV show, and listening for the name of our town to pop up.  :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

According to my mom, you would have blinked and missed it. When she was growing up there in the 30s and 40s, it was a pretty large small town with two grocery stores and everything else. Now it's sort of gone by the wayside.

One day I'd like to go to Okabena and see the old family farm. I just found out not too long ago that the Okabena graveyard was an acre donated to the town out of my great grandparents' original farm. And that they were founding members of the Lutheran church there way back when.

So I could go see that and then make a jog north and check out Walnut Grove. Road trip!

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

And in trying to clear things up, I made things muddier. What I typed was not correct:

In other words, there were three children: Ezekiel, Thankful, and Luke. Thankful was the mother of Justin Morgan (the teacher) and Luke was the father of Justin Morgan's wife. Ezekiel was the grandfather of Justin Day II, who was Angelina Day's grandfather.

That last word should read "father". It should be:

In other words, there were three children: Ezekiel, Thankful, and Luke. Thankful was the mother of Justin Morgan (the teacher) and Luke was the father of Justin Morgan's wife. Ezekiel was the grandfather of Justin Day II, who was Angelina Day's father.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Laura herself seemed to be somewhat snide about people taking handouts during the depression from what I've heard. She compIained once about getting a "begging letter" from Carrie. I guess it was because she and Almanzo basically did it all on their own and so she thought that everyone should be able to. What the Little House books left out was when they lived in Burr Oak, Iowa, and that may be because they left in the middle of the night so her Pa could avoid paying a large debt he had no money for.

The books are just children's stories after all, and are located under the Fiction category in the library. I'm sure many of us wouldn't want the darker side of our lives coming out in print, either.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0