As a Farm Woman Thinks

Laura Ingalls Wilder

The first time anyone ever read a word written by Laura Ingalls Wilder, it was in the column she wrote for the Missouri Ruralist from around 1911 until the 1920s. She was a farm woman who thought about the life around her at home, about world events, family, and the international travels of her only child, Rose. Would she have written about her early life as a pioneering girl in a large family if she and her husband, Almanzo, hadn’t lost so much during the Stock Market Crash of 1929? Yes, she needed the money—her first royalty check was for $500, but they grew considerably as her poplarity soared with the Little House series of books. But considering how intimate the books were—how they relived the life with her deceased parents during their years in Wisconsin, Kansas, Minnesota and South Dakota—it’s a good guess that she would have written them anyway. How many young girls have been inspired by her series of books, starting with Little House in the Big Woods in 1932? How many have found strength and joy in the Wilder family and the hardships they encountered? How many have wanted to be pioneers in their own way? Laura had intended that her literary estate go to the Mansfield, Missouri library after her daughter’s death, but Rose had renewed all the copyrights under the name of her business agent and heir. The courts upheld the right of the Roger MacBride family to the multimillion-dollar estate. Wonder what Laura would have written about that.

What do you think?

Jana Bommersbach

Arizona’s Journalist of the Year, Jana Bommersbach has won an Emmy and two Lifetime Achievement Awards. She also cowrote and appeared on the Emmy-winning Outrageous Arizona and has written two true crime books, a children’s book and the historical novel Cattle Kate.