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Charles Philip Ingalls

Seems as though all I ever saw of Pa was his face especially his eyes, his whiskers and his hair always standing on end. And too his hands on his violin. – Laura Ingalls Wilder, 1936

noteCharles Philip Ingalls was born January 10, 1836, in Cuba Township (Allegheny County) New York, the third of ten children of Lansford Whiting Ingalls and Laura Louise Colby. He had older brother Peter (born 1833) and younger siblings Lydia (born 1838), Polly (born 1840), James (born 1842), Docia (born 1845), Hiram (born 1848), George (born 1851), and Ruby (born 1855). An older sibling died shortly after birth in 1835.

Before Charles was twelve years old, the Ingalls family moved to Kane County, Illinois, just west of Chicago. In the early 1850s, they moved to Concord Township (Jefferson County) Wisconsin; Lansford Ingalls bought 80 acres there in 1854. In 1857, Charles Ingalls purchased a portion of this property from his father. Charles’ land was just north of the Oconomowoc River; to the south lived the Holbrooks: Frederick, his wife Charlotte (widow of Henry N. Quiner), and her children Henry, Martha, Caroline, Eliza, and Thomas. Charlotte’s eldest son, Joseph, married in 1856 and lived several miles away.

There were three marriages between the Ingalls and Quiner families: Henry Quiner married Polly Ingalls in 1859, and Peter Ingalls married Eliza Quiner in 1861. Charles Ingalls and Caroline Quiner were married in Concord on February 1, 1860.

Lansford Ingalls lost his farm in Jefferson County, and it was sold at sheriff’s auction in January 1861. This probably influenced Charles Ingalls and other family members to sell their land there and move on. In the summer of 1860, Martha Quiner had married Charles Carpenter, and he and other friends from the Concord area had relocated to Pepin County, and they were encouraging others to consider joining them there.

September 1863, Charles Ingalls and his brother-in-law, Henry Quiner, paid $335 for 160 acres in Pepin County – the SW 27-25-15. 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 1937, Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote that her father was a “hunter and a trapper, a poet and a musician.” Charles Ingalls at various times was also a justice of the peace deputy sheriff, tax collector, farmer, storekeeper, timekeeper for the railroad, and carpenter. It is not know when or where Charles Ingalls learned to play the fiddle, but it was his stories, his songs and his memory that Wilder wanted to honor in the Little House books. Charles Ingalls’ wanderlust led the family from Wisconsin to Indian Territory, Minnesota, Iowa, and Dakota Territory. It was in Dakota that Charles Ingalls agreed to settle permanently, homesteading and making final proof on a quarter section, but ultimately settling down in the town of De Smet, in a house he built on Third Street in 1888.

Charles Ingalls died in De Smet, South Dakota, on June 8, 1902, and was buried in the De Smet cemetery. Click HERE to see his obituary that was published in the Kingsbury County Independent, June 13, 1902.

The following biography of Mr. Ingalls was published in 1898:

CHARLES P. INGALLS, one of the leading settlers of Kingsbury county, South Dakota, who is now making his home in the village of De Smet, and is following the trade, of a carpenter, is of English descent. His ancestors, who took a prominent part in the Revolutionary war, settled in Vermont and marched with the “Green Mountain Boys” for the freedom of their adopted country. Charles’ grandfather fought in the war of 1812.

Our subject was born in the city of Cuba, Allegany county, New York, January 10, 1836, the second in order of birth of a family of nine children born to L.W. and Laura (Colby) Ingalls, both natives of New York. He lived on his father’s farm in New York until about twenty-four years of age, and then purchased a farm in Pepin county, Wisconsin, and operated the same for eighteen years. He spent two years working in Kansas, and four years on his farm in Minnesota. In 1879 he drove overland with his family from Tracy, Minnesota, to Dakota, where he secured a position as time-keeper and camp overseer of the C. & N. W. railroad construction gang from Brookings to De Smet. Near De Smet he took government land, the northeast quarter of section 3, township 110, range 56, whereupon he lived and farmed for about seven years. Prior to this the family lived on the present site of De Smet, he being in the employ of the railroad company and living in their section house. This was the winter of 1879-80, which was fortunately very mild. The lakes were open in the month of February, and geese, ducks and swans were very numerous. In January, 1880, was given the first oyster festival in Kingsbury county, and on the second day of February, 1880, was held at the home of Mr. Ingalls, the first Congregational church service of De Smet, conducted by Rev. E. H. Alden, of Minnesota. So far as is known, this was the first religious gathering in the county of Kingsbury. In the spring of 1880, a committee appointed by the governor for the purpose of organizing the county met at the home of Mr. Ingalls. This committee consisted of Mr. Barber, chairman; Mr. Burvee and A. Whiting, and they chose De Smet as the temporary county seat. For the county officers they made the following selections: J.K. Smith, sheriff; Will Whiting, county register of deeds; and Captain Gibson and Charles Ingalls, justices of the peace. Politically, Mr. Ingalls is a Populist, and for six years he held the position of deputy sheriff. He is a member of the Masonic lodge of De Smet No. 55, and he, his wife and his daughter, Caroline, belong to the Eastern Star lodge.

Mr. Ingalls was married in 1860, to Miss Caroline L. Quiner, a lay of Scotch descent, daughter of Henry and Charlotte (Tucker) Quiner, of Boston, Massachusets. Mrs. Ingalls was born December 12, 1839, at Milwaukee, Wisconsin territory. To this union have been born five children, viz: Mary A., a graduate of the class of 1889, Iowa College for the Blind; Laura E., wife of A.J. Wilder; Caroline C.; Frederick, deceased; and Grace P. The family are charter members of the Congregational church of De Smet

Memorial & Biographical Record, An Illustrated Compendium of Biography (Chicago: George A. Ogle & Co., 1898), 1023-1024.

Charles Ingalls (Mr. Ingalls is featured in almost every chapter of every Little House book, except for Farmer Boy)
Pa – What the Ingalls children called their father (see BW 1)
Ingalls office / store building (SSL 26-27; TLW 2, 7-9, 27, 29; LTP 5, 8, 12, 21; THGY 24; PG)
thinks tree stump is a bear (BW 6; PG)
is surrounded by wolf pack (LHP 7; PG)
has hair cut by mouse (LTP 3; PG)
spells down the whole town of De Smet (LTP 18)