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Silas Rood

Walnut Grove classmate of Laura Ingalls; he lived with his sister Ida (Rood) Kenyon, and her husband Herbert.

Silas said he was “Rude by name and rude by nature.” – Pioneer Girl

During the second period of time the Ingallses lived in Walnut Grove (1877-1879), Mary and Laura attended school in town, with David Thorpe as their teacher. In Pioneer Girl, Wilder tells a story about one of the boys in school, who she calls Silas Rude (the correct spelling was Silas Rood). During the evening of the Good Templars Lodge meeting, attended by Ma and Pa, Laura was babysitting for another family named Goff, and Silas showed up at the house, asking for Mr. Goff. When told where to find him, Silas left.

Soon, the Goffs came home in a panic, and Mr. Goff walked Laura home, which was not the usual scenario; usually, Laura walked home by herself. Once at home, Laura learned that Silas had showed up at the meeting with his face bleeding and his wrists cut (with rope hanging from one wrist) – things Laura made no mention of having noticed. Silas said that two men had shown up at his house, beat him, and tied him up. He had run to the meeting to ask for help. It was soon clear that Silas’s injuries were self-inflicted and he told the story for “a little excitement,” but he was ridiculed and sent home.

Wilder followed the story in Pioneer Girl with revivals held in Walnut Grove, and local papers report two weeks of revivals in December 1878. The Silas Rood story appeared in Walnut Grove column of the Redwood Gazette (Redwood Falls, Minnesota) on December 26, 1878. The story below is as it appeared in the newspaper, although misspelled names have been corrected:

December 26, 1878. Thursday. The Redwood Gazette, Redwood Falls, Minnesota
WALNUT STATION ITEMS. (From Our Correspondent.)

Our Town, which is usually free from excitement, had something of a change in the programme last Wednesday evening.

The Ladies’ Sewing Circle met, according to appointment, at the house of Mr. W.J. Masters, and, as is customary, the gentlemen were present in the evening to enjoy the weekly sociable. Amongst other ladies present belonging to the Sewing Circle was Mrs. H.J. Kenyon a very estimable lady whole family consists of herself, husband and little girl nine years old. They moved last spring from Eyota to this town bringing with them Silas Rood, brother of Mrs. Kenyon, a boy of about fourteen years of age. He has remained in Mr. Kenyon’s family ever since. Mr. Kenyon is in the pineries this winter and on the evening of which I speak Mrs. Kenyon left her brother and little girl at home while she and some of her lady friends attended the sociable. [Note: Mr. Kenyon returned to the area in March 1879.] After the boy had gone to bed he was aroused by a rap on the door and was informed by the parties outside that they had broke something about their wagon and wanted a wagon to tie it. The boy immediately dressed and came down where he found two men waiting for him who accompanied him to the stable where he went to procure the rope. On stepping forward to untie the rope from a post he was suddenly pushed into the manger and gagged. They then proceeded to tie his hands behind his back and tied his feet to the post leaving his feet higher than his head. He was left in this uncomfortable position from which he says it took him almost twenty minutes to extricate himself. He thought the men must have gone to the house with the intention of robbing it. Therefore after freeing himself (which he did by pulling one of his feet out of his boot) he hastened to Mr. Masters where the strange and unexpected appearance of the boy, without his cap and only one boot on was enough to alarm any one. The deep marks on his wrists showed plainly that his hands have been bound, and he carried the gag in his hand which consisted of a short stick with a notch in it and rope tied in the notch. On inquiry, it was found he stopped to Mr. Moses’ and finding a saw convenient he worked his hands back and forth over the saw until he cut the rope which was only one strand. The gentlemen as soon as they heard the boy’s story, hastened to Mr. Kenyon’s house and made a thorough search but found no one. They then hastened to the stable and found the boy’s boot and cap lying there, but there was no person within sight. It was evident that it was a prank in some way to frighten the boy. All the description he could give was that one was a little taller than the other and they had their caps drawn over their faces. Some seem to think that is only a ruse of the boy, as no wagon was seen to pass, but the boy has told the story several times in my hearing and his story agrees with what he told on his arrival at Mr. Masters’ Wednesday night. Mr. Moses on going home found the boy’s tracks to his door and could see that the saw had been misplaced. We cannot think of any one in our town who would stoop so low as to go into such business as that, but if there are we hope it will be found out, and the persons that committed the deed be brought to justice.

Silas Stevens Rood was born in New York in February 1864, the youngest child and only son of Martha and Owen Rood, a millwright. Silas had older sisters Emma (1843), Ida (1849), Alzada (1852), Henriette (1855), and Paulina (1859). Ida Rood married farmer Herbert J. Kenyon and they one daughter, Blanche, born in New York in 1874. The following year, they moved to Eyota (Olmstead County) Minnesota, then to Redwood County in 1878. Herbert and Ida farmed the S-SE 25-109-39, about a mile southwest of Walnut Grove in Springdale Township. Silas Rood was enumerated on the 1880 federal census as living with the Kenyons in Springdale Township; he may have left school but was still living with the Kenyons and not his widowed mother, who was living in Ostego County, New York. The Ingallses left Walnut Grove permanently in 1879.

In 1882, Silas married. He and his wife Ida (born October 1869 in Wisconsin) had two daughters: Hattie (born July 1883) and Mattie (born June 1888). Although they were in Dakota Territory for a while, they filed on a homestead in Manfred Township, Lac Qui Parle County, Minnesota, the SW 24-116-46, making final proof in 1890. They then moved to Aitkin, Minnesota, before settling in Crow Wing County, where Silas died in 1939.


Silas Rude (PG), see also Goff