Valerie's Reviews > Little House in the Big Woods

Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder
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Oct 20, 11


I learned fairly early on that this book was very pertinent to my family. The homesteaders in my family didn't go to southern Wisconsin, but to southern Illinois. But unlike Laura's family, mine stayed in the same place for many generations. My mother and her older sister went to just such a one-room schoolhouse as their ancestors had (by the time their younger sister was ready for school they'd moved into town).

My aunt's descriptions of her own life as a child are very similar to Wilder's books (though I don't remember anything like my aunt's story of the chimney fire). I took this first book as a fairly accurate version of what the lives of my ancestors were like from about the 1820s to after the Depression (though people had moved out of the old farmstead before the Depression, many moved back for the duration, in order to have food and work they could do on their own).

The later books in the series weren't so pertinent to our own history. I found them interesting, but not so personal or familiar.

One thing I remember as being from this book is the argument that if you can see the smoke from your neighbor's chimney, you live too close. My ancestors from before the Interstate highway system would likely agree. My aunt's description of trying to get their old car into town (where they visited, among other people, extended family) makes it clear why such journeys weren't an everyday affair. No commuting to town in THOSE days--or living in town and going out to the farm for the day, either.
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