I really like Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House series. The Little House Books center on the Ingalls family, Charles, Caroline, Mary, Laura (the main character), Carrie and later Grace. There was a younger brother, Charles Frederick (Freddy) but he died in infancy and Laura doesn’t talk about him in her books.
Laura was born in Wisconsin and this is where the first book, Little House in the Big Woods, takes place. Laura would have been too young to remember what happened during this time; Laura in the novel is a couple of years older than the real-life Laura would have been. Laura doubtless heard about the events from her parents, but it was more realistic for the story to be told from her point of view. She also changes the order of some of the events and leaves out some of the moves. The places Laura focuses on are Wisconsin, Kansas, Minnesota and South Dakota.
The Ingalls family moved from Wisconsin to Missouri and then Kansas by the time Laura was three years old, and this is where the events in Little House On the Prairie take place.
They then move from Kansas back to Wisconsin, and this is the time frame for the events of Little House in the Big Woods. The Ingalls then move to Minnesota, and this is where On the Banks of Plum Creek is set, and Laura is old enough now to remember.
During this time, Freddy is born and dies a few months later, and the family moves to Burr Oak, Iowa. Laura leaves out Freddy’s death and concentrates on the time in Minnesota. The family moves back to Minnesota and then move to De Smet, South Dakota, where Charles, Caroline and Mary live for the rest of their lives, and where By the Shores of Silver Lake, The Long Winter, Little Town On the Prarie and These Happy Golden Years are set. Laura meets and marries Almanzo Wilder here, and These Happy Golden Years ends with the Wilders moving into their home near De Smet.
The only book not about the Ingalls family is Farmer Boy. This is the story of Almanzo’s childhood in New York and was published between Little House in the Big Woods and Little House On the Prairie.
The manuscript for The First Four Years was found and published after Laura’s death and chronicles the events of the first years of the Wilder’s marriage. The books cover about the first 22 years of Laura’s life, and she lived to be 90, but there are a number of books about what happened after the Little House years also. Laura Ingalls Wilder was an interesting woman with first-hand experience in pioneer life. There are any number of web sites with information about Laura and her books, but I like this one a lot.
And here is one with a good timeline.
The pioneer’s life was a difficult one, but they were self-sufficient and managed in a time when we didn’t have the technology or the medical knowledge we do now. Don’t get me wrong, technology is wonderful, but we live in a day and age where we have access to information when we want it, and can be on the other side of the world in a matter of hours. People were much more isolated then and didn’t have anyone to rely on but themselves and perhaps neighbors who might live close enough to help out occasionally. The Little House Books offer a glimpse into an important time in American history, and although the books are fictionalized, the information on how people lived is accurate.