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How they intended to obtain title to the land or whether they actually realized what their legal status was there is uncertain. They should have known that they had moved into the fifty-mile-wide Osage Indian Reserve that ran east to west across two-thirds of the southern part of the state.

As such, they were intruders illegally squatting on the land, but they had plenty of company in what they were doing. When the census taker made his rounds the following year, among the neighbors listed on the forms were A.

Johnson, a thirty-six-year-old farmer from Illinois with his twenty-eight-year-old Ohio-born wife and their four children; G. Rowles, a twenty-four-year-old single farmer from Maryland; an elderly black couple from Pennsylvania named Tann and their thirty-four-year-old son, George, a physician; G.

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Lucker, a twenty-seven-year-old farmer born in Iowa and his eighteen-year-old Illinois-born wife; another single farmer, Ed Mason, age twenty-five and born in England; and a Kentucky farm couple, Robert and Mary Gilmore, fifty-two and forty-four, respectively, and their five children, ranging in age from sixteen to three. Although a healthy representation of Missourians and Kentuckians were listed as living in Rutland Township in the census, Ohio and Indiana furnished by far the largest number of residents, with strong showings from Illinois and New York and smaller contributions from Virginia, Iowa, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Michigan, and England.

These were to a large degree the same kinds of people the Ingallses had encountered in Wisconsin, minus the heavy leavening of Scandinavian immigrants. All of them were there to get a start on the land. Whether individuals hoped to take out homestead claims after the Indians departed or whether they intended to purchase land from the railroad or acquire it in some other fashion is not entirely clear. Most likely, all the recent arrivals had been lured by advertisements and predictions that Indian control would shortly be extinguished and that white settlers would then be free to take ownership.

Not surprisingly, much of Laura's attention in her fictionalized version of the episode in Little House on the Prairie focused upon the family's concern about and relationships with the Osage Indians as that tribe's members tried to grapple with the difficult dilemma confronting them. The Osages were clearly in a no-win situation. Driven west, like other tribes, by the constant pressure of westward-moving white settlers and by treaties promising them that each forced move would be the last, they now faced the prospect of being pushed out one more time and having to move south to a much smaller area set aside for them in Oklahoma.

Although Laura later had to rely on stories related by her parents rather than on her own childhood memories to describe the family's year on the Kansas prairie, her descriptions of frequent powwows and drums in the night, Indians walking into cabins to take settlers' food and tobacco, and other anxious moments between the settlers and the Indians conform to the historical record. The pressure of settlers entering the region caused the Osages to worry that they would be forced to move off their reserve.

It seemed to be a kind of game for many of them. Railroads had pushed west across Kansas beginning in Some railroad buccaneers had turned their glance longingly south toward the Gulf of Mexico, a path directly traversing tribal reserves that had been set aside for the Cherokees and the Osages. The Osage lands, the last major Indian reserve in the state, contained close to 9 million acres, making it by far the largest. It is little wonder that many white settlers impatiently awaited its opening. When the Ingalls family arrived in September they found themselves in the middle of the maneuvering and contention.

Angry protests and political pressures mounted by rival railroad groups and by settlers who did not want to have to purchase land from the railroad at premium prices blocked confirmation of the treaty in the U. Meanwhile, the Settlers' Protective Association went into operation. Its leaders estimated that between twelve and fifteen thousand settlers were already squatting on the Osage lands by Early the following year newcomers to the region could read newspaper editorials condemning the railroad's attempted land grab and encouraging them to move onto the Osage Diminished Reserve even though it was illegal to do so in order to guarantee that hardworking farmers--not greedy businessmen--would be the beneficiaries when the Osages finally moved to Oklahoma.

Into this complex set of circumstances Charles and Caroline Ingalls brought their girls. Like the other settlers, they were squatting illegally on the land, waiting for the time--soon, they hoped--when Indian title would be relinquished so that they would be able to claim ownership for themselves.

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Presumably, they opposed railroad acquisition of the land, which would have necessitated their paying more for the land than it would cost to buy it from the government. Undoubtedly, they welcomed the prospect of the Indians' departure, but they were somewhat ambivalent in their attitudes toward them. In Laura's version of the story, her mother was fearful of them, but her father frequently managed to put himself in their shoes and to understand their way of thinking.

It was neither the railroad nor the Indians themselves, however, who bore the brunt of criticism in Little House on the Prairie. Rather, the federal government played the villain's role for its alleged misleading of the settlers by encouraging them to move in and then reneging on the deal and ordering them off the land.


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Soldiers, in fact, did sometimes attempt to enforce the law and make the illegal squatters leave, but if anyone was encouraging the settlers to move onto the Osage Traci before , it probably was the settlers' groups and the local town boosters, not the federal government.

Laura's descriptions of night-time drumbeating and of increased traffic along the trail running next to their cabin coincide with the stories told by historians about the distress and sense of crisis pervading the Osage camps. Grasshoppers, drought, and inability to follow the buffalo herds, as they customarily had done, reduced the Osages' food supplies, leaving them in "a deplorable condition. With that, the members of the tribe bowed to the inevitable and prepared to leave for a reservation in Oklahoma.

How aware the Ingallses were of all the goings-on in Washington and other places we cannot know. They were not alone on the prairie and lived only thirteen miles from the county seat. Little House on the Prairie leaves what they knew and why they decided to leave obscure. Was it simply pique at the government and at the soldiers who were sent to order illegal squatters off the land?

Was it lack of information?

A year later there was a big rush of settlers into the county. In the meantime, there had hardly been any time to try their luck at farming in Kansas. They spent only about a year in the state. What kinds of crops Charles Ingalls may have planted in that time we do not know, if he planted any at all. The stories Laura told later were about building a cabin, digging a well, getting sick with "fever and ague" probably malaria , helping with cattle drives going past their place, and interacting with the Indians.

In August , shortly before the census was taken, a baby sister was born, Caroline Celestia, whom the family called Carrie.

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While they were considering what to do, a letter arrived from Gustaf Gustafson in Pepin saying that he was unable to make any more payments on the land that he had bought from them and that he wanted them to take it back. The offer sounded inviting. They were discouraged with what had happened to them in Kansas, and now the opportunity to go back home to relatives and friends was welcome. So they packed their things into the wagon and headed back to Wisconsin, retracing their steps through Missouri and Iowa.

There was a big welcome waiting for them from Grandpa and Grandma Ingalls, Peter and Eliza and their family, and the others. People continued to move into the area, and some of the families who once had lived near Charles and Caroline Ingalls had departed in their absence. A new family living near the Ingallses was that of Thomas Huleatt or Hewlet , who had been born in Ireland, and his wife, Maria, a Pennsylvanian. Their house was just a mile down the road. Many years later in Little House in the Big Woods , Laura mentioned them and their children, Clarence, who was a year older than she, and Eva, who was three years younger.

The adventurous streak that led her to want to climb trees, ride ponies, go wading in creeks, and assume leadership roles among her peers no doubt showed itself early, and it would continue to set her apart later in life.

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Besides the Huleatts, Laura also mentioned a childless couple, the Petersons, who were Swedish. Early migration into the area had been heavily Scandinavian.

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Except for Pennsylvania, the most common birthplace for adults residing in Pepin Township, as recorded by the census taker in , was Sweden. Almost as many had been born in the combined area of Prussia, Bavaria, and the other German states, and about a third that many came from Ireland. There were, in addition, handfuls who derived from Canada, Norway, Scotland, France, and Switzerland. New York ranked second behind Pennsylvania as an American birthplace, with about half as many coming from there.

Ohio and Vermont each had about one-quarter as many as Pennsylvania, and other states, such as Connecticut, Massachusetts, Wisconsin, Indiana, Maine, and Maryland each contributed up to a half dozen of the adults residing in the township in It was a population slightly more native than foreign-born in origin and heavily weighted toward the Middle Atlantic, New England, and Midwestern states as starting points. Laura later wrote in Little House in the Big Woods about some of the family gatherings and activities that she remembered.

Henry Quiner and Charles Ingalls frequently traded work, helping each other during planting and harvest seasons, and they cooperated with other chores and activities, such as butchering. Agriculturalists were making some progress in carving out farms from the surrounding forests, as was indicated in a story published in the Durand Times in October after the reporter had made a quick trip around the county. Threshing was just about completed, the newspaper story noted.

As Laura wrote later, her father's brothers George and James came to a dance at Grandpa Ingalls's house. George played his bugle for the girls. Another time Laura and Mary met more cousins when they went for a day to the home of Caroline's sister Martha and her husband, Charles Carpenter. The Ingalls extended family was mostly still around.

Uncle Tom Quiner, who would spend more than twenty years working for the Laird-Norton Lumber Company, came from Eau Claire to visit his sister and brother-in-law and nieces. Since she had turned six by the time the family returned to Wisconsin, Mary was enrolled for the summer term in the Barry Corner School. The schoolhouse was only about half a mile down the road from their cabin.

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The teacher, Anna Barry, lived nearby with her parents, after whom the crossroads was named. They had been among the earliest arrivals in the area, coming from near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, during the mids. Among the twenty students enrolled for the term besides Mary were Uncle Henry and Aunt Polly's four children as well as Clarence Huleatt.

Laura was lonesome, and perhaps slightly jealous, when Mary went to school, leaving her home in the cabin with her mother and little sister while her father was often hunting or working in the fields. In October, when the fall term started, her parents allowed her to go to school with Mary, even though she was still only four years old.

The experiment lasted only until Christmas, however, and after that Laura was kept home from school until she was a little older. Both of her parents, but especially her mother, were interested in obtaining a good education for Laura and her sisters. Even while living in primitive log cabins, they valued books and tried to ensure that their children would, too.