…I wanted Mother, with her gentle voice and quiet firmness. – Laura Ingalls Wilder, 1923
Caroline Lake Quiner was born December 12, 1839, in Brookfield (Milwaukee County) Wisconsin, the fifth of eight children of Henry Newton Quiner and Charlotte Wallis Tucker. She had older brothers Joseph (born 1834) and Henry (born 1835), and older sister Martha Jane (born 1837). Younger siblings included sister Eliza (born 1842) and brother Thomas (born 1844). A sister, Martha Morse, lived from 1832-1836.
In November 1845, Caroline’s father died, and her mother moved the family to Concord, in Jefferson County. Charlotte Quiner married Frederick M. Holbrook on June 2, 1849. They had one daughter, Charlotte, in 1854; she was Laura Ingalls’s “Aunt Lotty” from in Little House in the Big Woods (see Chapter 10, “Summertime”). Although the Holbrooks had moved to Rome, Wisconsin in 1854, Lotty Holbrook did spend time in Pepin County visiting her half-siblings.
Caroline became a school teacher. Her contract for three months school in Concord, dated October 1858, indicated that she was paid $10 per month. The Holbrooks lived just southwest of the Lansford Ingalls family in Concord Township, and it was here that Caroline met Charles Ingalls. On February 1, 1860, they were married, witnesses were Peter Ingalls and Martha Quiner. There were two other Ingalls-Quiner marriages: Henry Quiner married Polly Ingalls in 1859 and Peter Ingalls married Eliza Quiner in 1861.
In September 1863, Charles Ingalls and his brother-in-law, Henry Quiner, purchased land in Pepin County. Charles and Caroline settled on the south half of the quarter section, and Henry and Polly settled on the north side. Charles and Caroline Ingalls had two daughters born in Pepin County: Mary Amelia (born January 10, 1865) and Laura Elizabeth (born February 7, 1867). Daughter Carrie was born in Rutland Township (Montgomery County) Kansas on August 3, 1870. Son Charles Frederick was born November 1, 1875, in Walnut Grove (Redwood County) Minnesota; he died August 27, 1876, in South Troy (Wabasha County) Minnesota. Daughter Grace Pearl was born May 23, 1877, in Burr Oak (Winneshiek County) Iowa.
In every place the Ingallses lived and in every situation they faced, Caroline Ingalls remained a calm and staunch supporter of her husband and family.
Caroline Ingalls died in De Smet, South Dakota, on April 20, 1924 (Easter Sunday), and was buried in the De Smet cemetery.
Caroline Ingalls / Ma (throughout BW, LHP, BPC, SSL, LTP, and THGY; first mention in BW 1)
“Ma always could beat the nation cooking” (TLW 3)
Ma’s mother (BPC 12), see Charlotte Quiner