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Until she was an author, money was a struggle for Wilder


Laura and Almanzo Wilder had a fresh start with 40 acres on Rocky Ridge Farm in Mansfield, Missouri, a place that Laura Ingalls Wilder lived in for 62 years. But until she became a best-selling author, life was a constant struggle to make ends meet for Wilder. She and her husband always had second or even third jobs. Their daughter, Rose Wilder Lane, compared their poverty and disappointments to “horrors in a dream.”


(gentle music) - [Narrator] In 1894, the Wilders get their fresh start.

They buy 40 acres with a one-room cabin and call it Rocky Ridge Farm.

Laura had a clear vision of what it could become.

- [Tess Voiceover] 'Everything we needed to build it was on the land, good oak beams and boards, stones for the foundations in the fireplace.

The house would have large windows looking west across a brook over the gentle valleys and wooded hills that hid the town.

The kitchen would be big enough to hold a wood stove for winter, and in the parlor, big bookcases filled with books and a hanging lamp to read them by on winter evenings by the fireplace.'

- [Narrator] Laura Ingalls Wilder would live in Mansfield, Missouri for the next 62 years, but until she became a best-selling author, life was a constant struggle to make ends meet.

The couple always had second and third jobs.

Laura raised chickens and took in boarders.

Almanzo tended to the apple orchard and delivered kerosene.

Their young daughter Rose picked huckleberries to sell, and remembered her childhood none too fondly.

- [Voiceover Actor] 'No one knew what went on in my mind.

Because I loved my parents, I would not let them suspect that I was suffering.

I concealed from them how much I felt their poverty, their struggles and disappointments.

These filled my life, magnified like horrors in a dream.'

- [Narrator] In the spring of 1902, Laura receives word that her father is dying.

(bell ringing) She travels back to De Smet to see him one last time.

- It must've been a really heartbreaking loss for her, because she always identified strongly with her father.

They loved each other.

She always referred to her earliest memories of him carrying her, you know, and singing to her, and gazing at her, and I think she felt a security and a closeness with him that she never felt with anybody else.


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