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Alice & Arthur Whiting

Laura Ingalls Wilder’s cousin, the eldest aughter of Eliza and Peter Ingalls; Alice married Arthur Whiting, whose brother, Lee, married Alice’s sister, Ella.

“Jan. 2nd 1883. Dear Laura. Seek ye the Lord. Alice Whiting, Mitchell D.T.”

The eldest daughter of Eliza and Peter Ingalls, Laura Ingalls Wilder’s cousin Alice Josephine Ingalls was born in Concord (Jefferson Co.) Wisconsin, on April 23, 1862. She had younger siblings Ella Estella (January 23, 1865); Peter Franklin (November 16, 1866); Lansford Newcomb (April 5, 1870); Edith Florence (June 29, 1872); and Edmund Llewellyn (August 26, 1880). Alice lived with her family in Pepin and Pierce Counties before moving to Zumbro Falls (Wabasha Co.) Minnesota about 1874. Alice was 18 at the time of the 1880 census, and enumerated as a schoolteacher living in Gillford Township with her parents and siblings. Gillford Township included the original town of Zumbro Falls located south of the Zumbro River.

Arthur Leland Whiting was born at Claremont (Dodge Co.) Minnesota on December 3, 1859, to Andrew Jackson Whiting (1828-1907) and Urania R. (Brown) Whiting (1825-1875). Arthur had older brothers Clarence M. (1855-1872) and Leslie Lee (1858-1927). On March 20, 1881, Alice Ingalls and Arthur Whiting were married in Zumbro Falls, with Ella Ingalls as one of the witnesses. It is not known how Alice and Arthur met, as they lived about fifty miles apart. The Whitings had five children: Altha Alice (1883-1957; married William Taylor); Jay Riley (1887-1905), Roy Quiner (1889-1975), Frederick Arthur (1891-1965), and Vena Lois (1899-1975; married Robert Clark).

Following the death of Urania Whiting, first Lee – then Arthur, their father Andrew, and a cousin, Fremont Whiting – took claims in Davison County, Dakota Territory, near Ethan, about ten miles south of Mitchell and eighty miles from De Smet. Arthur preempted the S-NW and S-NE 22-101-60 in March 1882 and within days, he filed on a homestead nearby, the NE 23-101-60. He paid cash for the claim in September 1884. The Chicago, Milwaukee, and St. Paul Railroad had a right of way through the homestead. In January 1883, when Alice and Arthur were visiting the Ingalls family, Arthur had made final proof on his preemption claim adjoining Lee’s homestead (both in Section 22) and had filed on his homestead south of Ethan, most likely living on the homestead due to the residency requirement.

Although Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote daughter Rose Wilder Lane that she intended to have both Alice and Ella and their husbands visit the Ingalls family in her last book (which at the time of the August 1938 letter was intended to be the book after her Hard Winter book, and titled Prairie Girl), only Alice and Arthur appear in These Happy Golden Years. From dated entries in Laura’s autograph album and Grace Ingalls’ diary, it appears that both couples may have visited De Smet more than once. Laura remarked how much Alice – her double cousin, shown above – was like Mary Ingalls, who was away at college.

In 1884, Arthur and Alice and daughter Altha moved to San Bernardino, California. Alice joined the Holiness Church in 1886 and was involved with a number of churches in California, even serving as pastor. She was the first woman to hold office on the Board of Elders, and she edited the church newspaper until ill health forced her to resign in 1917. They moved to Owensboro, Kentucky, for a year and a half, with Alice resuming her pastoral work while Arthur farmed. For a while, they lived near Alice’s brother Edmund in Louisiana, where son Roy was an Evangelist minister. In 1923, Alice and Arthur returned to California, settling in Los Angeles. Eliza Ingalls lived the last years of her life either with daughters Alice or Ella in California. The photo here is from 1929, and shows Arthur, Eliza Ingalls, and Alice. Eliza died two years later.

Alice died at age 71 on January 30, 1934. Following her death, Arthur lived with friends and was active in support of missionaries in Peru, something Alice charged him to do after her death. Arthur died at age 89 on January 3, 1949; both are buried in Ontario, California. [Note: Bellevue Memorial Park, the cemetery where the Whitings are buried, is about six miles from Pomona Public Library, which has the original Little Town on the Prairie manuscript and other items on display in its Laura Ingalls Wilder collection.]



Were Arthur and Lee Whiting related to Amos Whiting of De Smet?
The Little House books include two Whiting families. Laura Ingalls Wilder’s cousins married Whiting brothers and Charles Ingalls attended the first meeting of county commissioners in Kingsbury County at Mr. Whiting’s claim (a meeting where Amos Whiting was appointed first superintendent of schools), readers may wonder if the two families were related. Although at least one Whiting genealogist speculates that the two families were descendants of half-brothers – sons of Caleb M. Whiting (1729-1819) by two different wives – others do not believe this is the case. If the connection is true, then Amos Whiting and Andrew Jackson Whiting (Arthur and Lee’s father) are both direct descendants of Samuel Whiting (1649-1727) and his wife, Sarah Metcalf. Other genealogists suggest that Daniel Whiting’s father was Nathan Whiting (born 1754 in Connecticut, and died 1849 in New York).

As there are other Whitings important in De Smet history and whose names appear frequently in historical De Smet newspapers, the chart at right includes them. Arthur and Lee’s cousin Fremont, mentioned above, is not shown on the chart. John Charles Fremont Whiting (1856-1935) was the son of Andrew Jackson Whiting’s brother, Simeon Phelps Whiting (1824-1911).

[Note: It may be of interest to Little House readers that Fremont Whiting is buried in the same cemetery in Oregon where Minnie Johnson is buried.]


Arthur Whiting (THGY 17; PG)
     Alice (Ingalls) Whiting (BW 4, TLW 16, THGY 13, 17; PG), see also Peter Riley Ingalls family
     Whiting brothers’ adjoining claims (THGY 17)