Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Pioneer Girl


I’ve just finished reading Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Pioneer Girl-The Annotated Autobiography Ed. by Pamela Smith Hill and published by South Dakota Historical Society Press. It’s a magnificent dressing up of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s autobiography of her childhood with as many annotations as there are blades of grass on the prairie. It’d been a while since I’d read Laura’s prose and it was as refreshing as always.

Here are some of my favorite lines:


The grasshoppers had eaten all the flowers and everything so the bees could not find any honey to store for the eating in the winter. Then because they had nothing to feed them, the bees stung all their baby bees to death and threw them out of the hives.
The man nearly cried when he told about the poor bees and he said he would not stay any longer in a country where even a bee couldn’t make a living.


Little Brother was not well and the Dr. came. I thought that would cure him as it had Ma when the Dr. came to see her. But little Brother got worse instead of better and one awful day he straightened out his little body and was dead.

When Grandma was a little girl she lived in a gray house made of logs….

At night, when Grandma lay in her trundle bed, she could not hear anything at all but the sound of the trees whispering together. Sometimes, far away in the night, a wolf howled.

it was a scare-y sound. Grandma knew that wolves ate little girls.

-Laura Ingalls Wilder, “Juvenile Pioneer Girl” or “When Grandma was a Little Girl”


We were at Mr. Brown’s at eleven and were married at once with Ida Brown and Elmer McConell as witnesses.

Mr Brown had promised me not to use the word “obey” in the ceremony and he kept his word.


As the preacher was earnestly preaching a stray kitten came walking up the aisle and stood arching its back and rubbing its side against a corner of the pulpit. Just then a dog came in the door…While the dog was still hunting [the kitten], I felt a gentle swaying of my hoop skirt and looking down saw the tip of the kitten’s tail disappearing under the hem of my dress. It had taken refuge under my skirts and was climbing on the hoops on the inside, like a monkey on the bars of his cage. I had a sudden vision of the dog discovering the kitten and what the consequences might be so that I shook with silent laughter.

Mary, who had missed it all, punched me with her elbow and whispered savagely, “Behave yourself!” which didn’t help me any.


Then we drove on in some more silence until I got down at the door.

I started to go in, then stopped and asked, ‘Aren’t you going to kiss me good night.’

“I was afraid you wouldn’t like it,” he said.

Then he kissed me good night and I went in the house, not quite sure if I were engaged to Manly or to the starlight and the prairie.

When the sun set, we put the [buggy’s] top down so that the beautiful moon-drenched or star-spangled sky was directly over our heads.

The sunsets were gorgeous, flaming spectacles; the night winds were soft and sweet; little animals scurried across the road ahead of us; now and then a night bird called and once two little black and white spotted skunks played along beside the buggy as we drove slowly.

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