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Odd Wisconsin Archive

Little House on the TV

This weekend Disney subsidiary ABC is airing the latest in a long series of films and television shows based on the famous Laura Ingalls Wilder novels. Most of these have simultaneously sentimentalized frontier life and childhood, so it’s always a good tonic to return to original sources for a clearer view. Just the subtitle of this article about pioneer mothers in Sheboygan County makes clear that life was not all prairie flowers and sunbonnets in the mid-19th century. A hundred years earlier, their grandmothers had had to be even more resilient, as reported in this Cinncinati newspaper story about 18th-c. pioneers in the Ohio Valley.

For more firsthand accounts of actual frontier childhoods of real Wisconsin people, visit Turning Points in Wisconsin History, where you’ll find a child-bride’s experiences in Green Bay in the 1820s, a teenager’s diary of coming overland in 1846, a memoir of a Waupaca Co. girlhood during the Civil War, and much more. Type the term “childhood” or “adolescence” into its search box for dozens of stories by Wisconsin people who actually grew up on the frontier.

:: Posted in Children on March 25, 2005
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