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The real Grace Ingalls

This information is from William Anderson's book "The Story of the Ingalls". To learn more about Grace, and the rest of the Ingalls family be sure to read this book. The pictures are postcards (from the Laura Ingalls Wilder Memoraial Society De Smet, South Dakota).

Big thanks to Karen for getting me this book, and the postcards!!


Grace Pearl Ingalls was born on May 23, 1877 in Burr Oak, Iowa. She was the youngest child of Charles Phillip Ingalls (born on January 10, 1836) and Caroline Lake Quiner (born on Decemeber 12, 1839). Grace had three older sisters - Mary Amelia (born on January 10, 1865), Laura Elizabeth (born on February 7, 1867) and Caroline Celestia (known as Carrie) (born on August 3, 1870). Older brother Charles Frederick was born on November 1, 1875, but he died on August 27, 1876 - only 9 months old.

Later in 1877, the Ingalls family returned to Walnut Grove (where the family had lived in 1874-1876). But only two years later the family moved again - this time to DeSmet in South Dakota.

As soon as she was old enough, Grace went to school in DeSmet. When she grew up she became involved in the towns' Sunday School. Just like her grandmother, mother and older sister Laura, Grace wanted to be a teacher. She went to Redfield College, where she took something known as a "normal course" - a common preparation course for teachers. After that, Grace taught in several country schools.

While teaching at the Lincoln School (near Manchester, about 7 miles west of DeSmet), Grace met farmer Nate Dow. They were married on October 16, 1901 (Grace was 24 years old, and Nate was 42), in the Ingalls' home. Grace and Nate settled on the Dow farm, near Manchester.

Grace and Nate never had any children. Nate had both severe allergies and asthma, so they hired several men to help them run the farm. In 1908, Grace and Nate, together with Nate's sister Chloe Fuller and her son Jack, travelled to Oregon and the Pacific Coast, looking for a climate that better suited Nate. But the climat change didn't help much. During the following years Grace and Nate kept trying to find a solution to the problem, and they at one point put their farm up for sale, and planned to move to Oregon, together with Caroline and Mary (Charles had died in 1902, and Laura and Carrie were also married, and had both left DeSmet). But they instead moved into the Ingalls family house in DeSmet.

When Caroline died in 1924, Nate and Grace continued living in the house in DeSmet together with Mary. After Mary died in 1928 (while visiting Carrie in Keystone), Nate and Grace left the Ingalls' house, and moved back home to Manchester.

Due to low farm prices in the late 1920s and the so called "Dust Bowl Years" in the 1930s, Grace and Nate got financial problems (since their income was depending on the rent money they got from their farm). As they became poor their health also declined, and they lived a simple life in a small rented house in Manchester.

Nate's nephew Harvey Dunn left Manchester, and became a well-known illustrater - both of books and magazines (like The Saturday Evening Post). He, as well as some others, was able to help Nate and Grace financially.

In 1932 Grace was in the Huron hospital, diagnosed as a severe diabetic. Carrie came to visit her, and brought Laura's newly released book "Litte House in the Big Woods", which she read to her sister.

Just like Carrie, Grace was interested in history, reading and writing. They both helped with the 50th anniversary edition of The De Smet News, that was published in 1930. Grace had earlier been a reporter for the magazine, and she later continued with that job, usually reporting on local news and happenings.

In 1941 Carrie came to Manchester to help take care of Grace, who was seriously ill. But on November 10, 1941 Grace died. She was buried in DeSmet.


Here's a picture of Grace (second from the right) with the rest of the Ingalls family, and a picture of the Ingalls family grave site.