Monday, February 13, 2012

Happy Birthday Almanzo!

I don't know how any of you ladies feel, but I think this is a handsome photo of young Almanzo James Wilder. This "Farmer Boy" from New York moved with his family to Spring Valley, Minnesota in 1875 due to crop failures. Almanzo would join his older siblings, Royal and Eliza Jane, on a trip into Dakota Territory, where the brothers and their sister took up claims near what would become De Smet, SD.

He would meet his future wife, Laura Elizabeth Ingalls, in De Smet. They would survive the Hard Winter, during which Almanzo and Cap Garland saved the town from starvation by going off to find seed wheat to feed the town until the trains could get through in the spring.

Though Laura actually had her eye on Cap Garland as a potential suitor, Almanzo's Morgan horses captured her attention. Eventually Almanzo and Laura began courting. He would drive her back and forth to her first teaching job.

They were wed on August 25, 1885. Life wasn't always easy for the Wilders. They suffered tremendous loss. They would eventually leave De Smet, traveling to Mansfield, Missouri, where they would spend most of their adult years.

Laura captured Almanzo's love of farming in Farmer Boy. She portrayed his heroic nature in The Long Winter. In Little Town on the Prairie and These Happy Golden Years, readers watched their romance blossom, and in The First Four Years, readers witnessed the harsh realities of the times in which the Wilders lived.

On Almanzo's birthday, we pay tribute to America's favorite "Farmer Boy." We are so glad we got a chance to know him through Laura's eyes. We are also glad to have talented actors who have brought Almanzo to life for us in their own unique ways.

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