Little House on the Prairie premiered on television as a pilot in March 1974. It was picked up as a series by NBC later that fall and was a successful show for nine seasons. According to the website LittleHouseOnThePrairie.com, the show has been on television for more than 40 years, still showing on channels INSP and COZI TV. And it’s also still being broadcast today in more than thirty countries.
The show was, of course, based on the children’s series of books written by Laura Ingalls Wilder. The authenticity of her stories rings so true since she wrote about what she actually lived. She was born in a log cabin outside of Pepin, Wisconsin in 1867. As a child, her pioneer family moved throughout the Midwest following work and farming ups and downs. They lived in Walnut Grove, MN for just two years before a failed crop prompted them to move again. But Walnut Grove was the prairie town setting on the TV show.
Because of the disruption of the frequent moves, the Ingalls children learned much at home and attended local schools when they could. Her mother (“Ma”), having been a school teacher, placed strong emphasis on learning, reading, and music. Laura herself became a teacher when she was fifteen.
As soon as she received her teaching certificate in 1882, she began teaching at a one-room schoolhouse called Bouchie School about a dozen miles from home. The show kept true to real life when a character named Almanzo Wilder appeared as a family friend who was recruited by the Ingalls to pick up Laura on Fridays from Bouchie to bring her home for the weekends. Love was in the air, both on the airwaves and in real life. They were married in 1885.
Laura credits her father Charles with teaching her the “lyricism and pacing of storytelling.” Affectionately referred to as simply “Pa” in the books and the show, Charles Ingalls wanted to give his family a better life. Laura says that her father’s pioneer aspirations provided her writing with not only content but its “shape and thematic focus” as well.
Wilder’s first attempt at formal writing was an autobiography titled Pioneer Girl and was intended for adult readers. But it was rejected by publishers, with one calling it uninspiring. Wilder then spent several years reworking the idea of telling her stories and ended up with a series of children’s books, each one telling about their family’s little house in their current prairie town. Little House in the Big Woods was published in 1932. The series came to be collectively called the Little House books.
Laura Ingalls Wilder died at her home on February 10, 1957, just three days after she turned 90 years old.
I’m sure that Ma and Pa were quite proud of what Half-Pint (her father’s nickname for Laura) had accomplished.