These Happy Golden Years – the fictional story
These Happy Golden Years. Laura Ingalls leaves home at age fifteen to teach her first school in Brewster settlement, twelve miles from home. Homesick and unsure of herself as a new and underage teacher, Laura survives the miserable winter weekdays primarily because homesteader Almanzo Wilder drives her home to De Smet every weekend.
Following this first school, Laura returns to the classroom herself, then she spends part of the summer with seamstress Mrs. McKee and her daughter Mattie while they hold down a claim near Manchester, east of De Smet. Laura cuts her stay with the McKees short in order to spend time with sister Mary, home for the summer from the Blind School in Vinton, Iowa.
Laura teaches in two more one-room schoolhouses: the Perry School, located just south of the Ingalls homestead, and the Wilkins School northwest of town. She also attends classes in the newly built two-story schoolhouse in De Smet, but leaves school before the first class is graduated. Following the almost day-by-day account of her time spent in the Brewster School, less and less is included about subsequent schools, as Laura’s attention is elsewhere – with singing school and buggy rides and becoming engaged to Almanzo Wilder.
At age eighteen, Laura leaves both school and teaching to marry the dashing Almanzo Wilder. They move to a little gray house on his tree claim north of town to begin their married life together. The story of their early years of marriage is told in The First Four Years.
Publishing History. The text of These Happy Golden Years was copyrighted March 17, 1943, by Laura Ingalls Wilder for an original term of 28 years. The copyright was renewed by Charles F. Lamkin in 1971 for another term of 28 years and transferred to Roger Lea Mac Bride by 1973. Mac Bride renewed the copyright for 19 years in 1976. The Copyright Act of 1976 extended the renewal term from 28 to 47 years. Public Law 105-298, enacted on October 27, 1998, further extended the renewal term of copyrights still subsisting on that date by an additional 20 years, providing for a renewal term of 67 years and a total protection of 95 years. Currently, the text of These Happy Golden Years is protected by copyright until the end of the year 2038.
The first illustrations for These Happy Golden Years were by Helen Sewell and Mildred Boyle for the 1943 publication. Illustrations for the uniform edition of the Little House books were by Garth Williams and published in 1954. Both are protected for 95 years, or the years 2038 (Sewell/Boyle) and 2049 (Williams).
Characters in These Happy Golden Years.
* The Ingalls family: Pa, Ma, Mary, Laura, Carrie, Grace.
* Brewster settlement: Lewis, Lib, and Johnny Brewster. The Brewster students: Clarence, Tommy, and Ruby Brewster; Charles and Martha Harrison.
* Residents in town: Mr. Harthorn, Mr. Fuller, Mr. Bradley, Lawyer Barnes, the Power family: Mr. Power, Mrs. Power, and Mary, Frank Harthorn and May Burd, Mr. Owen, Mr. and Mrs. McKee and daughter Mattie, Miss Bell, Mr. and Mrs. Boast, Reverend and Mrs. Brown.
* The Wilders: Royal, Eliza Jane, and Almanzo.
* Students at the De Smet school: Mary Power, Nellie Oleson, Ida Wright, Minnie Johnson, Fred Gilbert, Arthur Johnson, Cap Garland, Ben Woodworth, Charley (Power).
* Ingalls family relatives: Uncle Tom, Cousin Alice (Ingalls) Whiting and husband Arthur Whiting.
* The Perry School: Mr. Perry, Clyde Perry, the Johnson children.
* The Wilkins School: Mr. and Mrs. Wilkins, Florence.
Places Mentioned in These Happy Golden Years.
* In Dakota Territory: De Smet, Manchester, Wessington Hills, Silver Lake, Lake Henry, Lake Thompson, Spirit Lake.
* In Minnesota: Walnut Grove, Marshall, Spring Valley.
Music from These Happy Golden Years.
Songs (and the chapter in which they appear) include:
Chapter 4, “Sleigh Bells” — Doxology, My Sabbath Home
Chapter 11, “Jingle Bells” — Jingle Bells
Chapter 18, “The Perry School” — Golden Years Are Passing By, Here’s to the Maiden, Polly Wolly Doodle
Chapter 20, “Nellie Oleson” — Oh Whistle and I’ll Come to You, My Lad
Chapter 22, “Singing School” — In the Starlight
Chapter 23, “Barnum Walks” — Gaily Now Our Boat is Sailing, The Heavens Declare the Glory, In Dreamland Far Away, In the Starlight, The Singing School, Song of the Grass, Three Blind Mice
Chapter 25, “The Night Before Christmas” — Come In and Shut the Door, Highland Mary, My Heart is Sair for Somebody, The Star of Bethlehem
Chapter 27, “School Days End” — The Treadmill Song
Chapter 32, “Haste to the Wedding” — Haste to the Wedding, Highland Mary, Love’s Old Sweet Song
Chapter 33, “Little Gray Home in the West” — Golden Years Are Passing By
These Happy Golden Years, the fictional story