The childhood of Laura Ingalls Wilder was what some would consider rough and difficult, while others would give anything to have it. Her family did not have a lot of money, but there was a lot of love to bring them through hard times.
Life on the Frontier
The Ingalls family left Wisconsin to move west. They moved several times during her childhood, before finally settling in DeSmet, South Dakota, when Laura was 12. Her mother made all of the family's clothing and they got shoes once a year. These shoes did not wear out before the family grew out of them, because they were only worn in the winter. During the warmer months, the children could run barefoot, even in town, and not worry about stepping on glass or other damaging things, since there was no littering.
Each Christmas, Laura and her sisters got new dresses made by their mother and Christmas candy. Christmas was the only time Laura and her sisters got to eat candy. Because they lived on a farm, the family ate well, even through the winter. Her father also hunted for food. Most years, they were able to stock enough food to last through the winter, but there were some years when food became scarce.
Education and Upbringing
Laura and her sisters were home schooled when they lived in areas that were too far from town. When they lived near a town, the girls walked to school, often two miles each way. Laura's mother was a teacher and was able to teach her children enough so that they were never behind in class when they could attend a public school. Laura grew up to be a teacher and taught school until she married Almanzo Wilder.
Laura's family was religious, and would attend church each Sunday if they lived close enough to town. The girls each had two dresses: one for everyday wear and one to wear on Sundays for church. When the family did not live close enough to a town with a church, they studied the bible on Sundays.
As a child, Laura and her sisters learned to cook, clean, make beds and sew their own clothes. By the time Laura was in her early teens, she could work the farm, including caring for the horses, and she could run a household. She taught school at the age of 15 as a way to help earn money for her family.
Laura taught in a single-room schoolhouse 12 miles away from DeSmet. To get back and forth, she accepted rides from Almanzo Wilder, who married Laura when she turned 18.