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Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography

Laura Ingalls Wilder’s autobiographical Pioneer Girl manuscript was written with hopes that it could be printed as a magazine serial. The first step in the process leading to the Little House books, the original manuscript was slated for publication in the early 1980s, and finally published in 2014.

ERRATA. Based on our research, the following is a partial list of incorrect, omitted, or incomplete information found in the 773 or so annotations for the PG manuscript proper in Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography by Laura Ingalls Wilder, edited by Pamela Smith Hill (Pierre: South Dakota Historical Society Press), 2014. As of 2016, we at have decided not to waste any more time adding to this list unless we’re really bored.

xxivn30 – Wilder’s original Ruralist articles were not untitled. All of them prior to May 5, 1919, had titles, then many began to be published under the heading, “The Farm Home.” In 1921, some articles again had unique titles. Most articles from November 1921 through 1925 were published under the heading, “As a Farm Woman Thinks,” but the rest were titled.

lxivn3 – Rose Wilder Lane’s literary executor’s name is spelled Roger Lea MacBride, not Rodger.

2n2 – Citation is for Hill, Laura Ingalls Wilder, p. 397n8, yet that book only has 244 pages.

2n3 – In 1868, Tom Quiner also purchased property in Chariton County, Missouri.

2n5 – Henry N. Quiner died in 1845, not in 1844.

7n16 – Referenced from incorrect information in Zochert’s book, Dr. Tann did not serve in the Union Army during the Civil War.

13n29 – There is no source for “Lunker (possibly a misspelling of Longcor),” so it’s unclear why the alternate spelling was presented, except that it is on submitted by a user on the 1870 census index. It was missed opportunity not to have researched further to connect this name with the story of the murder of George Longcor and his daughter, Mary Ann (see Appendix B, p. 353). The “Gilmore” neighbors of the Ingallses were Mary Ann’s grandparents; the surname was spelled Gilmour.

13n29 – While “no one named Robertson appear[ed] on the 1870 census of Rutland Towmship,” F.L. Robinson witnessed the 1871 claim filing of Bennet Tann as well as those of neighbors in Rutland Township.

15n33 – The annotation about Carrie credits “Hill, Laura Ingalls Wilder, p. 10,” but Hill’s page 10 credits a version of Pioneer Girl for the same information.

16n36 – The “bachelor farmer named Edward Mason” was listed as Ed. Mason on the 1870 census. His name was Edmund, not Edward. Click link for info on Edmund Mason.

Photo page 17 – The Indian agent’s name was spelled Isaac T. Gibson, not Issac.

Map page 24 – Henry Quiner’s property location is not included on the map.

26n5 – The reference “Curing and Smoking Meats” cited is not on the bibliography.

25n2 – In the narrative, Laura left her cousin George Quiner out of the list of Aunt Polly and Uncle Henry’s children. He was the baby a little older than Carrie Ingalls.

13n29 – While there is no one named Scott enumerated on the 1870 census in Rutland Township, W.H. Scott and family lived in (historical) Verdigris Township, over ten miles from the Ingallses’ believed location. A different W.H. Scott lived closer to the LHOP replica cabin site, but he didn’t settle on his land until about six months after the Ingallses had left. The names of the wives of the two Mr. Scotts were similar, which only adds to the confusion.

34n34 – The Lansford Ingalls family must have moved to Jefferson County, Wisconsin, prior to 1853 (as the annotation says), as George Whiting Ingalls was born in Jefferson County in 1851, as recorded in Lansford Ingalls’ Bible. / In listing where Grandpa lived, the annotation mentions moving to “the woods of northwestern Wisconsin in 1862,” then the 1870 census listing in Pierce County. Lansford’s farm was sold in a sheriff’s sale in January 1861, so there are 8 years unaccounted for. Lansford purchased a quarter section in Pepin County in January 1865, selling half to his son James in April 1867 and the other half to A.E. Bergling in June 1868, prior to moving to Pierce County.

34n35 – Lansford Ingalls’ property in Pierce County was not near Lund; it was 11 miles to the north, in Rock Elm Township, part of the SE 26-26N-15W.

39n45 – Henry Quiner died in 1845, not 1844, so he was alive when his youngest son, Thomas Quiner, was born in November 1844.

42n50 – Libby Ingalls is Sarah Elizabeth “Libby” Ingalls, the wife of Hiram Ingalls, not Laura being confused about the name of Aunt Ruby. Libby and Hiram had daughter Laura Eliza Ingalls, born November 25, 1868. In Little House in the Big Woods, Wilder refers to Uncle James and Aunt Libby; James’ wife was named Sarah.

42n51 – The divorce between Docia and August Waldvogel wasn’t instigated by Docia but written into Wisconsin statutes: Chapter 79, Section 7. (1849) When either party shall be sentenced to imprisonment for life, the marriage shall be thereby absolutely dissolved, without any decree of divorce or other legal process, and no pardon granted to the party so sentenced, shall restore such party to his or her conjugal rights. / A 1937 letter fragment from LIW to RWL addresses this: (“…Lena’s father was sentenced to prison for life, that gave Aunt Docia a divorce. Later she married Hi Forbes. Oh yes! There are skeletons in our family closet, but I never felt disgraced by them until lately and this is it.”)

42n51 – August Eugene Waldvogel was born August 11, 1868, not in 1870.

41n49 – James Ingalls had at least ten children, not 9.

45n61 – The story of Gus isn’t found only in the original Pioneer Girl manuscript; it is also in a Big Woods manuscript.

50n81 – The boy’s name was George Nieb, not Weib, and he was black, not white. / The Captain James Barry mentioned in the annotation is not the Little House character, but another man with the same name.

54n92 – The burial information given is for the wrong Edith Ingalls. Laura’s cousin is buried in Greenmount Cemetery, Durango (La Plata County) Colorado.

Map page 58 – Charles Ingalls’ claim was a preemption, not a homestead.

68n26 – Charles Ingalls’ preemption filing didn’t say that they were living in their frame house starting on “the same day that [he] filed on the preemption claim,” but that they settled on the claim on May 28, 1874, and were in a 20×24 house by June 26, 1874.

73n36 – Amasa Tower was killed by lightning in 1886, not 1885. / The Julia Tower on the 1910 Michigan census is enumerated with her son, William P. Tower, born ~1855 in New York, which is before Laura’s Sunday School teacher married Amasa Tower. This Julia is the widow of Ackley Amasa Tower, son of Sarah and Russell Tower, not the Little House character.

76n43 – Although historical accounts may “disagree” when Mr. Nelson arrived in North Hero Township, land records show that he settled on his claim June 1, 1870.

77n45 – The Ingallses do not name the cow “Wreath of Roses;” Reet is what Pa says Mrs. Nelson’s name for the cow was. Ma says her name is Spot.

81n55 – Only adult insects hibernate. The locust eggs overwintered.

88n78 – William Owens was born October 7, 1869. He is enumerated on the 1870 census as 8 months old as of June 1.

97n106 – Freddy’s death certificate is on file in the Wabasha County Courthouse, filed at the time of his death. Cause of death is given as diahhorea. [A a copy of the death record was sent to Pamela Smith Hill on October 22, 2015, and she replied that the reference to burial note would be deleted “based on info from Wilder scholars.” In the most recent (11th) printing we have seen, no change was made.]

99-100n2 – The hotel sale was not in “April” 1877. The deed of sale between William Steadman and wife (grantor) and W.E. McLaughlin (grantee) is dated May 7, 1877.

99-100n2 – While the Steadmans were living in Oskaloosa, Iowa, at the time of the 1880 census, they had purchased 80 acres in Fremont Township (Winneshiek County) Iowa four days prior to selling the Masters Hotel in Burr Oak. This land was nine miles due west of Burr Oak; they sold it in February 1878.

103n12 – Jerome Bisby is the “Mr. Bisbee” of Burr Oak in Pioneer Girl, not Benjamin, who was his brother.

104n14 / 105-106n18 – The storekeepers called “Mr. and Mrs. Cameron” were Orren and Jeanette Clawson.

115n1 – Mrs. John Ensign’s name wasn’t “Louperlia or Lupeda”; it was Luperla.

115n2 – The Ensigns’ house was located on Lots 5 & 6, Block 24 (Walnut Grove), the lots having been purchased in January 1876. They sold it in June 1883.

115n3 – Willard (not “William”) was 18 on November 23, 1877; Anna had her 15th birthday (not “about thirteen”) on February 26, and Howard was 11 (not “about nine”) on November 6.

135n62 – It was W.F. Knight, not W.T. Click link for information about William Freemont Knight. Will’s father, Byron Knight named North Hero Township after his home in Vermont.

137n67 – On the 1880 census, it is a son (Allie, age 2), not a two-year-old daughter living with Sarah and John Holly, plus a five-month-old daughter (not mentioned in the annotation).

139n71 – Click link for information on the Robbins children. In a letter to Rose, Laura explained that the story was based on a fictional tale Ma had read to the girls, but she didn’t remember the source.

106n20 – In the front of Mary’s Independent Fifth Reader is written: Mary Ingalls, Burr Oak Iowa / January 19, 1876. The Ingalls family was in Walnut Grove in January 1876. Can this be explained?

127n40 – The family’s name was Welsh, not Welch. (see next note below)

127n42 – Laura Ingalls Wilder was incorrect about the property exchange Pa executed legal papers for. The farm was not sold by Mr. and Mrs. Ray to either the Welsh family (or the Welch family); it was sold to Ellen Leonard. There was no mortgage or residency requirement involved. Click link information on the Ray / Leonard families.

127n40 – “Richard Walsh” is not Mr. Welch from the story because the name isn’t correct in the story. Mr. Walsh, however, purchased Charles Ingalls’ former preemption claim in the 1880s.

146n98 – This is not the story of Henry Welch, but of Erastus LeSuer, proprietor of the hotel in Canby, Minnesota.

153n6 – The June 19, Brookings Co. Press blurb does not mean that Forbes would be at Silver Lake camp next; it referred to the move to the Sioux River camp (near Volga). Forbes was at Lake Benton at the time of the June 1879 mention, and he was still at Lake Benton on July 24. Ma and the girls didn’t travel to Tracy until September 6, so the move west that Laura would have heard about at the Sioux River camp was Uncle Hi’s contract to do the heavy work nine miles west of the Jim River, where he was located by the first of October.

154n10 – Is calling the Big Sioux the “Sioux” really a mistake made by Laura? She used both names in manuscript and published By the Shores of Silver Lake, plus both are used in Brookings newspapers throughout 1878-1880. It’s identified as the Sioux on Nicollet’s 1843 map.

159n24 – The Lone Tree or Lone Cottonwood stood on the southeast shore of Lake Henry until the 1990s, when the remaining half (the part not killed by a lightning strike in the 1970s) fell into the lake.

photo page 161 – The location of the claim shanty pictured is not given, but many photos of claim shanties exist from Kingsbury County. It’s a shame not to mention the Joseph Hodges shanty from Kingsbury County, now in the South Dakota Agricultural Heritage Museum (Brooking SD).

165n37 – The episode Wilder recounts is the one described in June 1879 newspaper reports. Laura has it incorrectly placed in the timeline; nothing similar happened in the De Smet railroad camp, or it would have also been reported in the Brookings County Press and other newspapers.

176-177n3 – Robert Boast and Ella Peck were married June 5, 1869, not in January 1870. / The Boasts moved from their farm to De Smet in December 1896 (not 1898), and lived in various rented houses (renting out their farm) until moving into the house on Lots 6 and 7, Block 5, Carroll’s Addition to De Smet (north side of 2nd St. SW).

188n88 – Page 89 of the 57th report of the American Home Missionary Society (online HERE) is for the year 1883 and this page reports on the death of workers in the previous year.

189-190n95 – Jerome Beardsley was born in New York but had been in Dakota Territory since 1876; he came from Brookings to run a hotel in De Smet.

189-190n95 – Edelbert Harthorn was born in Maine but had been in Dakota Territory since 1873; he came from Sioux Falls to run a store in De Smet.

193n101 – Reverend Brown died in West Superior, Wisconsin, not in De Smet.

page 200 – Suggestion: If you put thick black paper or black cardboard behind a page prior to scanning or photographing, it helps reduce (or even eliminates) the bleed-through of text from the other side.

205-206n13 – Clark County is north of De Smet, not east.

205-205n13 – Florence Garland’s claim in Clark County was a preemption, not a homestead. Lovinia filed on a tree claim and a homestead. Cap Garland never filed on land in Clark County; the Fugate article in Best of the Lore does not imply that he did.

210n26 – Frank Harthorn was born July 25, 1863, not in July 1864. He never filed on a claim. / The Harthorn family is also enumerated on the 1880 census living in Sioux Falls, where Frank’s age is given as 17.

210n26 – The grocers named in The Long Winter were not just Mr. Harthorn and Mr. Loftus. Wilder named four grocers in The Long Winter: Mr. Wilmarth, Mr. Barker, Mr. Harthorn, and Mr. Loftus (who was said to run a “Grocery, Dry Goods and General Merchandise”).

215n36 – Only Royal Wilder’s homestead and Eliza Wilder’s homestead were contiguous, with Almanzo’s homestead diagonally from Royal’s (so meeting at one corner only). All of their tree claims were separated from each other and from the three homesteads by at least a half mile.

215n36 – Royal’s feed store was not next to Fuller’s Hardware, but in another block entirely. Royal owned Lot 17, Block 1, and Charleton Fuller owned Lot 21, Block 3, original village of De Smet.

222n48 – Click link for information about Jesse French.

222n48 – The man’s name was not Peter J. Foster, but Parley J. Foster, brother of George W. Foster, who first filed on NW 18-111-54 on April 15, 1880. Parley relinquished the claim to his brother on September 1, 1882. Lily Burvee was related to them.

222n49 – Click link for information about Alfred Waters. He and his wife, Josephine, did not divorce; they lived part of the time in De Smet and part in New York, as she was responsible for the care of invalid family members. Josie Waters died in De Smet.

229-230n9 – A letter from Delos Perry published in March 1922 outlines in detail when the Perry and Ross families first arrived, filed on claims, and settled in Kingsbury County, as do the individual claim files. Although Delos Perry, David Ross, Russel Ross, and Harrison Ross explored the area and located claims in June 1879, they did not settle on them until May 2, 1880.

230n10 – Mr. Ross’s name was spelled Russel, not Russell (with double-L). His claim was a preemption, not a homestead, for which he paid cash in January 1882. He could not have legally homesteaded in Kingsbury County, as he had previously made final proof on a homestead in Minnehaha County, the SW 12-104-50, first filed January 1, 1876 / final proof March 16, 1879.

238n30 – Thomas Power’s middle initial was P., not T.

241n39 – Eliza Jane Wilder didn’t write “N. 20 1/4….” in her lengthy document to the Land Commissioner (included in her homestead case file). She wrote “N.W. 1/4 Sec. 28, T. 111, R. 56.” Her claim was the northwest quarter of Section 28.

244n43 – Mary Power was born in Tuscarora, New York, not Tuscara.

244n43 – The Mary Power researcher’s name is Gina Terrana, not Terranna.

249n53 – James H. Clewett taught the De Smet school, not his brother Frank.

Page 251 – The only annotation about Ben Woodworth’s birthday party is about oranges. What a waste not to at least include the text from the actual party invitation (or a photograph); the invitation is on display at the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum in Mansfield, Missouri.

255n65 – A dray is not only a cart with two wheels, but may have four (or no) wheels. Click the link for more information about drayman Charles Trousdale and family.

255n67 – Click link for information about Oscar Röhl.

256n68 – Alfred Thomas was a married man with four children when he and his wife and children came to De Smet, not a bachelor. Click link for information about Alfred Thomas and his brothers.

276n3 – Click link for information about Laura Remington, not identified in the annotation.

276n3 – Click link for information about Alfred Ely, “about five years younger than Laura.”

276n5 – Clink link for information about Hattie Dorchester. Her father was in partnership with only William Ruth, not any other of “the Ruths.”

Photo page 278 – Photo of Wilder family has Laura and Eliza Jane identified incorrectly. [The names were corrected at some point after the first printing.]

279n13 – Hamlin Garland filed on a tree claim in McPherson county on November 27, 1883. There was no residency requirement, and he relinquished his claim and it was cancelled in December 1887. He filed an intent to preempt the SW 32-125N-67W, paying cash for the land on March 19, 1884, at which time he left his land. There was only a one-time residency requirement of six months prior to final proof. He did not have a homestead.

279n14 – Photo labeled “Mary Power and Edwin P. Sanford” is of Minnie and Ernest Green. Click link for information about the Green family. [This photo was removed at some point after the first edition, but not replaced with photographs of the Sanfords.]

280n5 – Click link for information about Rebecca Stewart, called Rebecca Newhall in the narrative. She was the niece of Ellen and Frederick Newhall.

281n19 – Although Laura writes about Braille, Mary learned New York Point, not Braille.

283n23 – Will Barnes of the story was not the brother of Visscher Barnes, nor were they related. Click link for information about Redwood County’s Will Barnes.

297n52 – The liveryman’s name was correctly spelled John Peirson, not Pierson. Click link for information about John Peirson.

304n66 – Ella and Lee Whiting’s visit in question was on January 12, 1887. They were not “en route to California,” which the annotation presents as a possibility, as they sold their land and moved to California two years later.

320n101 – The Range (56 West) is not not given for Almanzo’s tree claim, and is a vital part of the legal description.

375, bibliography – Plants of the Black Hills and Bear Lodge Mountains (Larson and Johnson) is South Dakota State Agricultural Experiment Station, Bulletin 735, not 732.


Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography