Caroline Ingalls with her husband Charles
|Born||Caroline Lake Quiner
December 12, 1839
Brookfield, Wisconsin, U.S.
|Died||April 20, 1924
De Smet, South Dakota, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Charles Ingalls (1860–1902; his death)|
- For information on the relatives, see : List of real-life individuals from Little House on the Prairie
She was born 15 miles west of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in the town of Brookfield, in the county of Waukesha, the fifth of seven children of Henry Quiner and Charlotte (Tucker) Quiner. Her brothers were Joseph, Henry, and Thomas, and her sisters were Martha Jane and Eliza (the Quiners' first child, Martha Morse Quiner, died in 1836).
When Caroline was five, her father died in an accident, reportedly on Lake Michigan near the Straits of Mackinac. In 1849, her mother married Frederick Holbrook, a farmer who lived nearby. They had one child together, Charlotte "Lottie" Holbrook. Caroline evidently loved and respected her stepfather, and would later honor his memory by naming her son after him.
At age 16 1/2, Caroline started working as a teacher. On February 1, 1860, she married Charles Ingalls. They had five children: Mary, Laura, Caroline ("Carrie"), Charles Frederick ("Freddie"), and Grace.
Freddie Ingalls was born on November 1, 1875, in Walnut Grove, Minnesota, and died August 27, 1876, just over 2 months before his first birthday in South Troy, Minnesota, of undetermined causes. In her unpublished autobiography Pioneer Girl, Laura remembers that "Little Brother was not well" and that "one terrible day, he straightened out his little body and was dead". Wilder scholar William Anderson noted, "Nearly forty years after Freddie's death, Ma mourned him, telling relatives how different everything would be 'if Freddie had lived'."
The Ingalls family traveled by covered wagon from Wisconsin; Kansas (Indian Territory); Burr Oak, Iowa; and Minnesota. In 1879 they settled on a homestead near De Smet. When Charles and Caroline Ingalls decided to sell their farm because of the persistent pattern of dry years of weather, combined with Charles Ingalls' advancing age and inability to take care of his large acreage, he built the family a home on Third Street in the town of De Smet in Dakota Territory. He made his living primarily as a carpenter from that time onward until his death of heart disease at age 66.
In the media
The series The Caroline Years, an extension of the Little House series, by Maria D. Wilkes and Celia Wilkins, follows Caroline Quiner from her fifth year to her late teens, up to her engagement to Charles. The names, dates and people mentioned in the books are true, but much of the content of the books is, by necessity, fictionalized. The first title in the series is Little House in Brookfield.
Additionally, Caroline was portrayed in adaptations of Little House on the Prairie by:
- Eiko Masuyama (voice) in Laura, The Prairie Girl Japanese cartoon series
- Karen Grassle in the television series Little House on the Prairie and its movie sequels
- Katy Kurtzman as a young Caroline in the fourth-season episode "I Remember, I Remember" of the television series
- Lindsay Crouse in both Beyond the Prairie: The True Story of Laura Ingalls Wilder films
- Erin Cottrell in the miniseries Little House on the Prairie
- Melissa Gilbert in the musical
- Ancestry of Laura Ingalls Wilder: Quiner. Ingalls Family Genealogy
- Ancestry of Laura Ingalls Wilder: Holbrook. Ingalls Family Genealogy
- Wilder, Laura Ingalls (1867-1957), Papers, 1894-1943 (C3633) State Historical Society of Missouri
- Anderson, William (1989). Laura Ingalls Wilder: The Iowa Story. Laura Ingalls Wilder Park & Museum. p. 7.
- Potter, Constance (Winter 2003). "Genealogy Notes: De Smet, Dakota Territory, Little Town in the National Archives". Prologue Magazine (The National Archives) 35 (4).
- Wilkes, Maria D. Little House in Brookfield. New York: HarperTrophy. ISBN 0-06-440610-5.