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start. The beginning of a journey or course of action; first motion from a place; act of setting out; the outset. To invent or discover; to bring within pursuit. — Webster, 1882

gosh all hemlock. cyberbessie is blogging. –, July 27, 2000
How to Navigate.

HELLO. This post was updated in March 2023 to replace the “welcome” sidebar button. It’s pretty much the same info as was always there, except for a bit of an update into our lives.

FIRST. Come back here after you: Read this page.

BROWSE. Page entries load randomly in batches each time you visit. Hover over a navigation image to see the title and excerpt (if you can’t figure it out from the picture); scroll down to see more choices. Click to load. To start over, use the “back” button on your browser or click the blue “Laura Ingalls Wilder A-Z” logo. On a mobile device, you’ll have to click once to see title/excerpt, twice to load. It’s a fun way to have a look around.

INDEX. Click on a letter of the alphabet in the A-Z menu. At the top of each page will be alphabetical links to expanded entries. At the bottom of the page is a glossary of upcoming entries; a new entry is uploaded each Monday, so the site is constantly evolving. The index may or may not load on mobile devices.

SEARCH. Know exactly what you’re looking for? At the bottom of the menu is a search box. Type your search string and click “search.” All entries containing one or more words from your search string will be shown, with best matches listed first. Use Laura Ingalls Wilder’s spelling for best results. The search may or may not load on mobile devices.

Who We Are.

If you’ve ever wondered what happened to Minnie Johnson, how to make a bird’s-nest pudding from scratch, or how to play Quaker meeting, you’ve come to the right place. Do we know who Becky Newhall was? Yep. Will Barnes? Of course.

We’re the ones who first told the internet world what Ida Wright’s middle name was, that Laura Ingalls taught her first school at age sixteen, not fifteen, and that Charles Ingalls had the great misfortune to build his Indian Territory cabin on what would be surveyed as a school section, and why that mattered. We told you that Mary Power did not die young (or look at all like Minnie Green), and that Gennie Masters’ husband once lived in Walla Walla as a guest of Washington State. We’ve been researching a combined total of over three quarters of a century.

Growing up in Florida, Nansie was far removed from the blizzards, coal stoves, and hardtack of the Little House books, but they’re the reason she learned how to trim the wick on a kerosene lamp and read a homestead map. Growing up in Washington State, Gina was surrounded by water, mountain ranges and tree stumps that can be walked through, and she thought of Spokane as “back east.” Growing up as a prairie girl on a southeastern Illinois farm, Janilyn had the other two beat by a country mile as far as pioneer stuff goes. Janilyn began reading the LH books in the second grade, and she read them so many times her mother threatened to take them away if she didn’t read something else. Mothers are like that.

Reading the Little House books fueled Janilyn’s love of history and led to her profession, a professor of history in central Illinois. Gina had her own Seattle Public Library card at the age of six; she ended up working there for eleventy-seven years, and she once made a buffalo coat for one of her dolls. Nansie spent her time doing artsy stuff, and she once took a clock apart to see why it whirred before striking the hour.

Gina and Nansie live on opposite sides of the Unites States, and Janilyn lives somewhere in the middle. They all met online, where they sometimes disagree over the finer points of Laura lore, but they get along just fine in real life. It helps that Gina is fascinated by Rose Wilder Lane and Nansie would rather spend weeks tracking down some obscure Little House character only mentioned once in one book manuscript. Janilyn loves to talk about Laura to anyone who will listen, and she is fascinated by all things Little House, Laura Ingalls Wilder, and Rose Wilder Lane.

Nansie is usually ordering documents and Janilyn is planning to travel somewhere, while Gina has mostly thrown in the roller-towel as far as research goes, thanks to 2020. Although she’s parted with many of her books and files, Gina can still be coaxed back into the research fold on special occasions or when the other two have no idea in which of Rose’s journals some obscure bit can be found (Gina can remember stuff like that off the top of her head). Separately, the three are very private people about their personal lives outside of the Little House world. Look for Gina sea-glass hunting, paddling a kayak, or playing her cello. Nansie will be 2700 miles away digging in Georgia red clay, knitting yet another pair of wool socks, or soldering something. Janilyn will be reading a lot of books and reviewing them on Instagram, or — now that she’s back in the classroom — trying to slip Laura Ingalls Wilder references into her next lecture, and wishing she was out there on her Harley.

After starting a blog in the late nineties to instruct people how to get their hands on Laura Ingalls Wilder’s handwritten Pioneer Girl memoir on microfilm, Nansie registered a domain and started the pioneergirl website in 2000 as a way to organize her research findings. Over the years, this website has come and gone; maybe this time the site will stop back-trailing and stay put.

We hope you learn something new today, and as each new entry is added.