Charles Ingalls with his wife Caroline Ingalls
January 10, 1836|
Cuba, New York, U.S.A.
|Died||June 8, 1902
De Smet, South Dakota, U.S.A.
|Resting place||De Smet Cemetery, De Smet, Kingsbury County, South Dakota, USA|
|Spouse(s)||Caroline Ingalls (1860–1902; his death)|
Charles Phillip Ingalls (//; January 10, 1836 – June 8, 1902) was the father of Laura Ingalls Wilder, known for her Little House on the Prairie series of books. Ingalls is depicted as the character "Pa" in the television series.
- For information on the relatives, see: List of real-life individuals from Little House on the Prairie.
Ingalls was the second of nine children of Lansford Whiting Ingalls (1812–1896) and Laura Louise Colby Ingalls (1810–1883), both of whom appear (as "Grandpa" and "Grandma", respectively) in the book Little House in the Big Woods.
Lansford was born in Canada; Laura was born in Vermont and was a descendant of Edmund Rice, an early immigrant to Massachusetts Bay Colony. Lansford's mother was Margaret Delano, of the famed Delano family, and was a descendant of Mayflower passenger Richard Warren. In the 1840s, when Ingalls was a young boy, his family moved from New York to the tallgrass prairie of Campton Township, just west of Elgin, Illinois.
Charles grew into a high-spirited, outgoing man, with a love of music and reading, as well as becoming an accomplished hunter-trapper, carpenter and farmer. On February 1, 1860, Charles Ingalls married a neighbor, the quiet and proper Caroline Lake Quiner. They had five children: Mary, Laura, Carrie, Charles Frederick "Freddie", and Grace. Freddie died as an infant.
For his entire life Ingalls had a strong case of "wanderlust". He is quoted by Laura in her Little House series of books as saying: "My wandering foot gets to itching". He loved travelling and didn't like living among big crowds of people, so with his family in the early years of his marriage, he traveled a great deal and often changed homes. From their original home in the woods of Wisconsin, he moved his family to Indian Territory in southeastern Kansas, then back to Wisconsin, then to southern Minnesota, then for a year to Burr Oak, Iowa, then back to Minnesota. Presented with a job opportunity in Dakota Territory, he longed to move yet again, as the family was struggling financially in Minnesota. Caroline agreed, but extracted a promise from her husband that this would be their last move. She was not only tired of moving from place to place herself but, as a former schoolteacher herself, she also feared her children would never get a proper education unless the family put down roots somewhere. Ingalls agreed, and the family settled down for good in De Smet, South Dakota. He stayed with farming in De Smet for several years, but after he had "proved up" on his claim, he sold the farm and built a home on Third Street in De Smet, where he lived out the rest of his days. He held various elected positions in the town, including Justice of the Peace and Deputy Sheriff. He also operated a retail store in De Smet for a few years and lastly, sold insurance. He died on June 8, 1902, of heart disease, at the age of 66. He was buried at De Smet Cemetery.
In the media
Ingalls has been portrayed in adaptations of Little House on the Prairie by:
- Shūsei Nakamura (voice) in Laura, The Prairie Girl Japanese cartoon series
- Michael Landon in the television series Little House on the Prairie and its movie sequels
- Matthew Laborteaux as a young Charles in the third season episode "Journey in the Spring" and the fourth-season episode "I Remember, I Remember" of the television series
- Richard Thomas in both Beyond the Prairie: The True Story of Laura Ingalls Wilder films
- Cameron Bancroft in the miniseries Little House on the Prairie
- Steve Blanchard in the musical
- "Grave of Charles Ingalls on Find-A-Grave". Retrieved 20 March 2013.
- "Eunice Sleeman". Edmund Rice (1638) Association. Eunice Sleeman was the mother of Eunice Blood (1782–1862), the wife of Nathan Colby (born 1778), who were the parents of Laura Louise Colby Ingalls (1810–1883), Charles's mother. Retrieved October 15, 2010.
- "Obituary for Charles Philip Ingalls". Definitive Laura Ingalls Wilder and Little House on the Prairie. Retrieved February 7, 2013.