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Hiram Ingalls

Brother of Charles Ingalls; he lived 1848-1943.

Aunt Docia and Charley’s mother, Aunt Polly were sisters. Pa and Uncle George, Uncle Peter, Uncle James and Uncle Hiram were their brothers. – LIW to RWL, February 1938.

Hiram Lemuel Ingalls was born April 27, 1848, in Fairfield Township (Kane County) Illinois, the eighth of ten children of Lansford Whiting Ingalls and Laura Louise Colby. He had older brothers Peter (born 1833), Charles (born 1836), and James (born 1842), as well as older sisters Lydia (born 1838), Polly (born 1840), and Docia (born 1845). Younger brother George was born in 1851 and younger sister Ruby was born in 1855. An older brother had died shortly after birth in 1835. At the time of Hiram’s birth, his parents were living on land owned by Lansford’s cousin, Samantha (Ingalls) Collins and her husband, John Collins.

When Hiram was five years old, his father purchased 80 acres on the Oconomowoc River in Jefferson County, and the family settled there. Shortly before Hiram’s thirteenth birthday, his father lost the farm, and it was sold at she’s auction in January 1861. Hiram was a young teenager at the onset of the Civil War, and he witnessed the fierce patriotism of those around him in Jefferson County as neighbors and relatives volunteered for service.

In the summer of 1864, Hiram – who was 16 at the time – moved with his parents and some of his siblings to Pepin County, Wisconsin, where his father purchased 80 acres adjoining that of Hiram’s brother James. It’s unclear if the move had been prompted by circumstances of the war and the possibility that the Ingalls brothers would be less likely to be drafted in western Wisconsin. Only months after settling in Pepin County, President Lincoln made a call for 300,000 additional soldiers, with a draft to be held where the quota wasn’t filled by volunteers.

Although Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote in Little House in the Big Woods that her uncle George ran away to join the Union Army, according to Ingalls family lore, it was Hiram who was determined to run away and join the army, and James followed in support. Hiram and James enlisted at Lake City, Minnesota, across Lake Pepin in Wabasha County, and on January 3, 1865, they were mustered into Company E, First Regiment of Minnesota Heavy Artillery as privates. James was 21, and Hiram was 16 (his 17th birthday would be in April that year), although he lied and gave his age as 19. Their company was sent to Tennessee in late February, to guard the forts and heavy guns in Chattanooga; they were in no battles or skirmishes. Hiram served in Chattanooga until the end of the war, was mustered out at Nashville in September 1865, and was discharged at Fort Snelling in Minnesota on September 27, 1865, still with the rank of Private.

Hiram returned to Pepin County and lived with his parents for two years. From 1867-1873, he lived near Oconomowoc in Waukesha Co., Wisconsin, where he married Sarah Elizabeth Woodward (born 5 April 1847 in Onondaga NY) on October 18, 1867. Elizabeth was the daughter of Lorin Woodward (born 1821) and Lydia Eliza Gould (1822-1895; she died January 11, 1895 in Danbury WI).

Hiram and Elizabeth had 7 children [note that their first child may have been born one month after they were married]:
1. Laura Eliza born – 25 Nov 1867 or 1868 in Watertown (Dodge Co.) WI / died 22 May 1943 in Aitkin Co. MN. Married John Monroe Butterfield (1856-1943). Her headstone includes the 1867 birth date.
2. Ruby Evaline – born 21 September 1871 (Rock Elm, Pierce Co.) / died 11 September 1896 (Burnett Co.). Married (1) Austin John Beers (1852-1929). / Married (2) William E. Garrison (1874-1897)
3. Philip Leroy – born 22 April 1873 (Rock Elm, Pierce Co.) / died 11 September 1896 (Burnett Co.)
4. Sarah Jeanette – born 3 August 1877 (Alden, Polk Co.) / died 7 May 1956 (Burnett Co.) Married (1) Bernard Connor, (2) Emil Kreiner.
5. Mary Rose Ellen – 1 September 1880 (Pierce Co.) / died 2 January 1951. Married Marion Kezer.
6. Hiram Leroy – born 22 June 1882 (Pierce Co.) / died 16 May 1949 (Burnett Co.)
7. Leo Vincent (adopted) – born 4 October 1896 / died 16 July 1974

In her handwritten Pioneer Girl memoir, Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote that her Uncle George had stolen a cow as a young man, but it was actually Hiram who did so. In 1872, a man named George Hoyt, living in Eau Galle, stole a cow and hired Hiram to help him take the animal to Stockholm. Unable to sell the cow there, they crossed the river to Lake City, Minnesota, where the cow was sold for $28. The owner of the cow went looking for the animal at Hirams, as it had previously belonged to him. In Lake City, he found that the cow had been slaughtered, and Hiram was arrested.

Hiram managed to escape from jail and went on living his life until the spring of 1875, when the sheriff arrested him near St. Cloud, Minnesota (where, it appears, his sister Docia was living at the time). Hiram was arrested, pleaded guilty, and was sentenced to seven months in the Wisconsin State Prison at Waupun. When he got out of jail, Hiram and his family moved to a rented farm on Horse Creek in Polk County, Wisconsin, between Osceola and Star Prairie. Hirams brother, George (who was not a cow thief), was living nearby in Alden.

In April 1883, Lansford Ingalls lost his farm in Pierce County due to non-payment of taxes, and he was probably persuaded by Hiram and George to move with them to Burnett County. The three families settled on the east side of Devils Lake just north of Webster, camping in tents until the men could build log cabins. Hiram filed on Lots 7, 8, & 9 & SW-SW Section 36, Township 40 N, Range 16 W, of the 4th Principal Meridian in Wisconsin. George filed on a homestead adjoining Hiram’s to the north. It’s not known if Lansford and Laura Ingalls had their own home on their sons’ land, or if they lived nearby; Lansford had intended to file on 80 acres, but allowed George to file on that parcel as part of his own claim. Laura (Colby) Ingalls died on October 18, 1883, only a few months after they settled in Burnett County. She was buried on Hiram’s claim on acreage he donated for a cemetery.

Dongola Post Office, Burnett Co., Wisconsin

In late March, 1896, Lansford Ingalls (at age 83) filed on an 80-acre homestead about three miles southeast of George and Hiram. He died about six weeks later, on May 14, and was buried beside his wife in Orange Cemetery. Hiram took over the claim as his father’s heir; it was on this land that Hiram, now in his fifties, served as postmaster of the Dongola Post Office from 1899-1902. Hiram then returned to farming, supplementing his income by hunting and trapping.

May 27, 1910, Sarah Elizabeth Ingalls died. Her obituary in The Journal (Burnett County) reads: Died, at her home at Dongola, Mrs. Sarah E. Ingalls, wife of Hiram Ingalls, May 27, 1910, aged 63 years. Mrs. Ingalls was born in the state of New York in 1847, and moved to Wisconsin in 1856; was married to H. Ingalls in 1866, in the town of Summit, Waukesha county, Wis., and settled at her husband’s home in Pepin county, Wis. They moved to Burnett county in the spring of 1883. She leaves a husband and five children, one son and four daughters, to mourn her loss, besides an adopted son. All her suffering is ended and her tired soul at rest; though our hearts are sad at parting, yet we know that it is best.

February 27, 1919, Hiram married Ellen Parker. The couple moved to Montana, near Glasgow, but the marriage was rocky; Hiram (age 74) deserted Ellen (age 69) and returned to Wisconsin to live, writing her that he “never wanted to see her face, ever again.” Left with no means of support, Ellen was forced to move in with a son in California. Ellen stated in a letter in Hiram’s Civil War pension file, however, that she moved to Danbury to care for Hiram; it’s unclear when this move took place, but she had been living in Centralia, Washington, in late 1922.

Hiram died March 28, 1923, in Danbury, Wisconsin; he was buried in Orange Cemetery. His official cause of death was given as chronic dilation of the heart and pneumonia. Hiram’s obituary in the Burnett County Enterprise reads: Herman [sic] Ingalls, who died at Danbury on March 28, was well known in this part of the state, being one of the first white men to settle here. / Mr. Ingalls was born at Rockford, Ill., on April 27, 1848. He was a veteran of the civil war, having served for 18 [sic] months as a private in the C. and E. [Co. E] first Minnesota, heavy artillery, and in 1867 he was married to Miss Elizabeth Woodward of New York. Six children were born of this union, five of whom survive. His wife died in 1913 [sic] and a son died in 1896. In 1918 [sic] he married Mrs. Ellen Barker [sic] who resides at Danbury, Wis. / Mr. Ingalls was laid to rest in the orange cemetery. Those left to mourn him are Mrs. Laura Butterfield, Shovel Lake, Minn., Mrs. Evaline Beers, Tacoma, Wash., Mrs. Jeanette Kriener, Mrs. Ellen Kezer, Mr. LeRoy Ingalls, all of Webster, Wis. And one brother James Ingalls of Ellsworth, Wis.



The following is from my blog post dated January 8, 2012. Some of the information came from Hiram Ingalls’ Civil War pension file, which is over 600 pages in length.

Second Wife’s Fourth Husband. You won’t find Laura Ingalls Wilder’s uncle, Hiram Lemuel Ingalls, mentioned in the Little House books, although it’s a theory that the story about Laura’s wild Uncle George in Little House in the Big Woods was written about Hiram Ingalls. Hiram was the youngest-but-one son of Laura and Lansford Ingalls, younger brother of Charles Ingalls and older brother of George Ingalls. He was born April 27, 1848, in Illinois, and after settling in western Wisconsin with his parents, he and brother James enlisted in the Union Army in January 1865, going across Lake Pepin to Minnesota to sign up. Although the legal minimum age for soldiers was 18, Hiram was only 16 at the time of his enlistment (he would turn 17 a few months later; James was 21). It was perfectly okay to enlist between ages 18-20 if you had parental consent. Did Grandpa Ingalls approve of the enlistment, did Hiram fake his consent papers, or did he lie and state that he was over 21 years of age?

Hiram and James didn’t serve long. The Civil War ended a few months after their enlistment and they were mustered out of service in September 1865. Hiram married Elizabeth Woodward two years later, and they had seven children. After Elizabeth’s death, Hiram remarried. I didn’t set out this week to research Hiram. I was merely curious to know more about Hiram’s second wife, because you variously see online that her name was Ellen Burns or Ellen Parker and that that she died in 1951. It turns out that it was Hiram’s daughter Ellen (Mary Rose Ellen Ingalls Kezer) who died in 1951, not Hiram’s second wife Ellen (who died in 1935).

Ellen’s surname was not Burns; it was Burn. Ellen Burn was born in Indiana, September 1852, to Mary and Jacob Burn, who had come to America from England in the 1840s.

Ellen Burn married her FIRST HUSBAND Stephen Skinner in Dunn County, Wisconsin, on March 8, 1872. On several documents, she states that she was married on that same day in March in the year 1871. Daughter Abbie Skinner was born in December 1871, which explains why she would want to add a year to her marriage (their primary source marriage certificate is clearly dated 1872). Stephen Skinner had joined the Union Army (Company I, 30th Wisconsin Regular Infantry) during the Civil War, but instead of fighting the Confederate Army, he was stationed at Fort Union, on the Montana / Dakota border. Currently a National Historic Site, Fort Union was where various Indian tribes went to trade buffalo robes and other furs for beads, guns, blankets, knives, cookware, and cloth. It was the most important trading post on the Upper Missouri from 1828 to 1867.

While on guard duty one February night, Stephen Skinner caught a severe cold which settled in his lungs, putting him into the infirmary for a month and causing him life-long breathing problems. Although Skinner tried farming and harness making, he was unable to work more than quarter-time for the rest of his life and was unable to do any manual labor. Ellen and Stephen Skinner had nine children born between 1871 and 1895; Stephen died in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, April 1902.

In April 1904, Ellen (Burn) Skinner married her SECOND HUSBAND, Wilbur Stockwell, a farmer from Nebraska who was eight years her junior. His first wife had been dead only a few months, leaving him with six children to raise. In January 1907, Ellen filed for and was granted a divorce from Wilbur Stockwell, citing that he had treated her “in a cruel and inhuman manner.” Her former married name – Ellen Skinner – was restored to her as part of the divorce settlement. She also had her attorney’s fees ($30) paid by Stockwell, and her household goods were shipped back to Wisconsin.

Ellen’s THIRD HUSBAND was William Parker; Ellen Skinner was also William’s third wife. A conductor on the Great Northern Railroad, the couple met in Minneapolis and were married in Seattle, Washington, on February 17, 1909. The Great Northern ran from St. Paul to Seattle, and was the northernmost transcontinental railroad in United States history. The couple made their home in Minneapolis, where William died at age 73 in June 1917. Ellen had worked as a laundress prior to her marriage and it is believed that she also worked for the railroad as a laundress.

February 27, 1919, Ellen Parker (née Burn) married her FOURTH HUSBAND, Hiram Ingalls, in Duluth, Minnesota. The couple settled in Danbury, Wisconsin, where they lived until April 1920. They then moved to Glasgow, Montana (note that Glasgow is located on the Great Northern Railroad). Shortly after settling in Montana, however, Hiram went back to Danbury on an alleged business trip, taking his wife’s $375 sealskin coat, which he sold to a fur company in Madison. On April 6, 1920, Hiram wrote Ellen a letter, saying that he was not coming back to Montana and he “never wanted to see her face, ever again.”

What happened next? Ellen went to live with a son in California and Hiram remained in Wisconsin, where he died in March 1923. The couple didn’t divorce. While I don’t yet know if Hiram never saw Ellen’s face, ever again, I know that Ellen was still in California only months prior to Hiram’s death. Ellen Ingalls was enumerated on the 1930 census living in Swiss Township (Burnett County) Wisconsin. According to her death record, she died in Eau Claire County in 1935 and was buried in Forest Hill Cemetery in Eau Claire, where her first husband and some of their children are buried.


Hiram Ingalls