The Real Reason Mary Ingalls became Blind

judiz

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I read on several websites that Laura had type 2 diabetes when she died as did several members of the family. However as there are few members of the Ingalls/Wilder family alive today to confirm or deny, we may never know the truth. It really isn't vital information, just trivia I thought I'd pass along.
 

Lucy25

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I may have misunderstood earlier the earlier post about Laura having diabetes. A post above suggested the whole family had it, and I was picturing all of them growing up w/it. It is certainly possible that Laura got it much later in life, as that often happens.

Yes, Pa died quite young. Ma had to struggle for so many years afterward. Amazing that Laura & Almanzo had such long lives together. It still saddens me so much that there are no descendants of that immediate family. I wish there were a great great grandkid somewhere!

One of the biggest disappointments for me was seeing the China shepherdess in real life. It was so unattractive, lol. I had imagined it so lovely.
 

mag

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I believe Charles died of lung cancer. Given he was a regular smoker, dying at 66 is not hugely surprising. Laura clearly idolized her father as shown by how she portrays him in the books. I don't think he was a bad husband or father, and in many ways was very progressive for his generation of men, but he really for the most part put his wandering ways ahead of his family. I do think he really thought he would live much longer because he didn't make any arrangements for his wife's life after his death and I believe it was quite hard on Caroline. She was an absolute Saint in my book! Being pulled from pillar to post whenever he got itchy feet. Making new home after new home in strange and often dangerous places. She must have been one amazing person and is, IMHO, the real hero of those stories.
 

judiz

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I may have misunderstood earlier the earlier post about Laura having diabetes. A post above suggested the whole family had it, and I was picturing all of them growing up w/it. It is certainly possible that Laura got it much later in life, as that often happens..
That post was mine, sorry if I posted misinformation but I had seen it on several websites.
 

judiz

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I believe Charles died of lung cancer. Given he was a regular smoker, dying at 66 is not hugely surprising. Laura clearly idolized her father as shown by how she portrays him in the books. I don't think he was a bad husband or father, and in many ways was very progressive for his generation of men, but he really for the most part put his wandering ways ahead of his family. I do think he really thought he would live much longer because he didn't make any arrangements for his wife's life after his death and I believe it was quite hard on Caroline. She was an absolute Saint in my book! Being pulled from pillar to post whenever he got itchy feet. Making new home after new home in strange and often dangerous places. She must have been one amazing person and is, IMHO, the real hero of those stories.

Websites list a heart attack as the cause of Charles Ingalls' death. And yes, while Caroline was amazing for all she had to put up with and all she lost, I'm not sure how much say the wives had in the 1800's as to where they would live or how many times they did move.
 

clairecloutier

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I believe Charles died of lung cancer. Given he was a regular smoker, dying at 66 is not hugely surprising. Laura clearly idolized her father as shown by how she portrays him in the books. I don't think he was a bad husband or father, and in many ways was very progressive for his generation of men, but he really for the most part put his wandering ways ahead of his family. I do think he really thought he would live much longer because he didn't make any arrangements for his wife's life after his death and I believe it was quite hard on Caroline. She was an absolute Saint in my book! Being pulled from pillar to post whenever he got itchy feet. Making new home after new home in strange and often dangerous places. She must have been one amazing person and is, IMHO, the real hero of those stories.
i hadn't heard that Charles died of lung cancer. Is there a source for this info?

i have to agree with your take on Charles. As much as he had a lot of good sides to his personality, and seems to have been generally liked and respected in DeSmet, he made quite a few questionable decisions that hurt the family's finances. (Of course, they also had some bad luck.) I agree Caroline was a bit of a saint in dealing with it all.
 

judiz

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@danceronice I believe Laura and Almanzo also had diphtheria when Rose was a little girl. I think she talks about it in The First Four Years. I don't know if that would have a affect on either of them with respect to having children.

Almanzo had diphtheria and suffered a stroke shortly afterwards. A short time later Almonzo and Laura's house burnt down and the family plus baby Rose moved. Both of Laura's pregnancies were difficult and I'd imagine that plus Almonzo's illnesses and financial difficulties contributed to their not having more children.
 

mag

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i hadn't heard that Charles died of lung cancer. Is there a source for this info?

i have to agree with your take on Charles. As much as he had a lot of good sides to his personality, and seems to have been generally liked and respected in DeSmet, he made quite a few questionable decisions that hurt the family's finances. (Of course, they also had some bad luck.) I agree Caroline was a bit of a saint in dealing with it all.
I had always assumed lung cancer and I thought that is what we were told on one of the tours in De
Smet. Now that I think about it maybe I just assumed it from the account in the Rose books ... Probably not the best source.
 

Skittl1321

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There was also a lot of unknown then. My grandmother (who would now be about 90?) died young of "cancer". They think. It wasn't really known what it was. They also don't know what the primary site was, though they think it was probably breast cancer. Maybe.

So possibly Pa's death is really just a guess.
 

danceronice

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danceronice - From my Zochert book appendix -
(approximately because I just subtracted the years not the months)
Charles WAS only 66 when he died?
Caroline was 85
Mary was 63
Carrie was 76 (and she was always sickly/frail/weak)
Grace was 64

With all of Almanzo's health problems, he lived to be 92!!!!

Yeah, I'm a Little House nerd too!
66 is only "only" to us because we're quite spoiled now, expecting to live to be 90 as a matter of course rather than as a statistical outlier Even in the 1930s 66 for a man is normal (the entire social security system was designed assuming people would be dead in five or ten years after they started collecting and can't really function now it's more like 20.) Charles apparently lived an unremarkable lifespan for someone born the year he was born if he died at 66.

Almanzo must have had some serious good genetics, given how sick he was and the stroke he had.
 

Susan1

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66 is only "only" to us because we're quite spoiled now, expecting to live to be 90 as a matter of course rather than as a statistical outlier Even in the 1930s 66 for a man is normal (the entire social security system was designed assuming people would be dead in five or ten years after they started collecting and can't really function now it's more like 20.) Charles apparently lived an unremarkable lifespan for someone born the year he was born if he died at 66.

Almanzo must have had some serious good genetics, given how sick he was and the stroke he had.
Yeah, I was thinking about Charles's age at death of "only" 66 compared to Laura and Almanzo (90 and 92) and even Caroline at 85. And the feeling that "Pa" was so strong and hardy that he would live much longer than he did. So sad.

Man! Am I going to have to go read all my Little House books now?
 
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victoriajh

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Being one of the many Little House nerds (), I have done the tour, ending in De Smet. Walking around the Surveyer's house and the Ingall's last house just outside of town was surreal. It was sad to hear that after Pa died, Ma had to rent out half the house to make end's meet. I loved going to their homestead and seeing that the 5 trees are still there. I never understood exactly what the Big Slough was until I saw it.
i have added this to my bucket list!! i was obsessed with LIW and her story... i have tried to get my daughter on board but no go....
 

danceronice

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Yeah, I was thinking about Charles's age at death of "only" 66 compared to Laura and Almanzo (90 and 92) and even Caroline at 85. And the feeling that "Pa" was so strong and hardy that he would live much longer than he did.
If he hadn't spent so much time living the rough life....There's a balance. Working as hard as he did might have helped Almanzo, but otoh, Charles lived a hard life, at least at one point we know of got very sick with a disease that can do chronic damage (malaria.) NOW we can treat a lot of things that would affect a man who lived that kind of life, but that's very, very recent. Caroline, otoh, managed to duck both childhood (death before age 10 is what really drags the lifespan average down) and child-bearing and at that point females generally live longer than males. When you wander graveyards, you see a lot of dead children, and a lot of men who go between 60-70.
 

Hedwig

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It seems like there are a lot more books than what I read as a kid! I really have to revisit that - I loved Laura growing up!
 

Susan1

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It seems like there are a lot more books than what I read as a kid! I really have to revisit that - I loved Laura growing up!
Of the books that Laura wrote, I have a boxed set of 9 "Little House" books (1971, yellow covers), On the Way Home, and West From Home (letters written back home when she took the train to visit Rose in San Francisco), the last two with real photographs in them (neat). I'm not sure if she wrote anymore like that. I'll have to check.

And I have the previously mentioned one written by Donald Zochert, also with photos. And I read Pioneer Girl cover to cover that I got from the library (last year?).

Edited to add - weird that I just mentioned real pictures in the later books - I was looking at Amazon to see if I have missed any later books (nope). The only not-5-star reviews for the most recent Little House box set are that they don't have any of the Garth Williams illustrations people remembered from their youth. How could they leave those out?
 
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Lucy25

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That post was mine, sorry if I posted misinformation but I had seen it on several websites.
No, no. I am not suggesting you posted misinformation. I misinterpreted what you wrote. Thanks for the link in a later post. I'll check it out.
 

Lucy25

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i have added this to my bucket list!! i was obsessed with LIW and her story... i have tried to get my daughter on board but no go....
My college roommate lives outside Des Moines. I am in suburban Detroit. Years ago I decided to go visit her but visit a couple of the Little House locations first. I rented a car and drove myself to the Plum Creek location and then on to De Smet. On the way you see signs for other places mentioned in the books, like Tracey - where Pa would go to dig out the trains. Kind of surreal. I stayed in a lovely bed & breakfast just a few houses down from the Ingall's last home in De Smet. I look back on that trip now & can't believe I drove all the way out there by myself.

Have not been able to read through Pioneer Girl yet, but it's fascinating.
 

ballettmaus

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I passed through South Dakota on my way to Chicago a couple of years ago and actually came across a road sign for De Smet. Unfortunately, I didn't have time to venture down there; I was on a tight schedule and it would have been too much of a detour. I've been to Mansfield years ago though. :)
 

Susan1

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My college roommate lives outside Des Moines. I am in suburban Detroit. Years ago I decided to go visit her but visit a couple of the Little House locations first. I rented a car and drove myself to the Plum Creek location and then on to De Smet. On the way you see signs for other places mentioned in the books, like Tracey - where Pa would go to dig out the trains. Kind of surreal. I stayed in a lovely bed & breakfast just a few houses down from the Ingall's last home in De Smet. I look back on that trip now & can't believe I drove all the way out there by myself.

Have not been able to read through Pioneer Girl yet, but it's fascinating.
Pioneer Girl took me a couple of weeks, off and on. And I am so jealous of anybody who has seen the Little House sites! If they were in Ohio, Indiana, Michigan and/or Kentucky, I would have been there multiple times over the years. Never been to that part of the country. I've only been to Chicago once, and the Minneapolis airport on the way to and from Tucson!
 

jadingirl

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My sisters and I loved the Little House series when we were little - it was out go to tv show and I did read the books (all but Farmer Boy because that one was boring :))

Now my 11 year old has been a pioneer junkie since she was 8 and has repeatedly asked to go to De Smet and PLum Creek for our vacations - but it doesn't seem any easy trip from Southern Ontario.
 

danceronice

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Hey, if you're in Detroit, most of Laura's papers are at the Detroit Public Library per the Zuchert book!

I actually have some of Rose's writings. Did not know until recently she along with Ayn Rand is considered one of the founding mothers of the modern libertarian-objectivist movement.
 

dewey

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Regarding the deaths of the male children, I can't find it now, but a doctor did an investigation of the causes of death and determined that they were all common for the time period. She concluded that the deaths of the male children but not the female was probably just a coincidence, not the result of a genetic disease.

I believe it is possible for diphtheria to leave men sterile, which would explain Laura and Almanzo not having more children.

This is pure speculation, but in looking at photos of the Ingalls girls as adults, I have wondered if Grace had PCOS. She is the only one who was overweight, she is known to have had Type 2 diabetes later in life, and she never had children despite marrying at a young age.

(Another Ingalls nerd here)
 

judiz

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Regarding the deaths of the male children, I can't find it now, but a doctor did an investigation of the causes of death and determined that they were all common for the time period. She concluded that the deaths of the male children but not the female was probably just a coincidence, not the result of a genetic disease.

I believe it is possible for diphtheria to leave men sterile, which would explain Laura and Almanzo not having more children.

This is pure speculation, but in looking at photos of the Ingalls girls as adults, I have wondered if Grace had PCOS. She is the only one who was overweight, she is known to have had Type 2 diabetes later in life, and she never had children despite marrying at a young age.

(Another Ingalls nerd here)
There is speculation that baby Freddy died after a severe bout of diarrhea. He was at the age baby's were weaned from the breast and the family was traveling so water supplies were limited and not always sanitary.
 

Lucy25

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I read on several websites that Laura had type 2 diabetes when she died as did several members of the family. However as there are few members of the Ingalls/Wilder family alive today to confirm or deny, we may never know the truth. It really isn't vital information, just trivia I thought I'd pass along.
While my students were taking tests today, I searched this and I saw all the reports of diabetes. I am still stunned that I never heard anything about this until now! It seems as though they were all diagnosed as adults?
 

Coco

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I've lived in WI for almost 9 years and just realized the first book was set in WI. It was my least favorite of the books, so it never really registered. Anyway, they have a museum in Pepin, WI, which is about an hour or so southeast of the Twin Cities.

It is open from May 15-October 15, but it looks like they sell some products year round.

I am totally checking it out when I go to MN for officiating this summer!

And if you are looking for some Laura Ingalls Wilder travel ideas, they have "Laura Days" in September.
http://www.lauradays.org/
 

Erin

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I've lived in WI for almost 9 years and just realized the first book was set in WI. It was my least favorite of the books, so it never really registered. Anyway, they have a museum in Pepin, WI, which is about an hour or so southeast of the Twin Cities.

It is open from May 15-October 15, but it looks like they sell some products year round.

I am totally checking it out when I go to MN for officiating this summer!/
The first summer I lived in the Twin Cities, I went to Pepin to check out the Laura site...to date it's the only one I've been to, but I really want to get to all the other ones, especially De Dmet, Walnut Grove, and the Missouri site. The Pepin site is worth seeing if you're a huge Laura fan (as I am) but probably not worth traveling super far for, so good to combine with another travel.

For anyone interested in the Laura sites, The Wilder Life by Wendy McClure is a highly entertaining read of the author's experiences traveling to all of the sites and going through other Laura-related experiences, like learning to churn butter.
 

clairecloutier

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The first summer I lived in the Twin Cities, I went to Pepin to check out the Laura site...to date it's the only one I've been to, but I really want to get to all the other ones, especially De Dmet, Walnut Grove, and the Missouri site. The Pepin site is worth seeing if you're a huge Laura fan (as I am) but probably not worth traveling super far for, so good to combine with another travel.

For anyone interested in the Laura sites, The Wilder Life by Wendy McClure is a highly entertaining read of the author's experiences traveling to all of the sites and going through other Laura-related experiences, like learning to churn butter.
I loved that book! A fun read.

I haven't visited any of the Laura sites yet, but I really want to. My vague plan/dream is to get my daughters into the books too--then do a cross-country trip to visit all the sites when they're older.
 

mag

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A little bit of trivia...
Little House in the Big Woods was the first book published and, at the time, the only one Laura planned to publish. Those stories actually take place after the family's trip to Kansas. When she decided to write more books she didn't want to leave out the expedition to Kansas as told in Little House on the Prairie, so she changed the time line slightly making the story take place after the big woods. Carrie I believe was born in Kansas and only weeks after she was born, Pa packed them up and moved them back to WI. He had heard that the land would not be open for settlement and he was not going to wait around and be driven off. If he had been a bit more patient he would have learned that where they built their house was just fine and they could have stayed. Weird to think who that one decision could have changed everything and we may never have heard of Laura Ingalls and she most likely would never have met Almanzo! Also, can you imagine traveling by covered wagon only weeks after giving birth? Yikes, it was a hard life!
 

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