Laura Ingalls Wilder letter to Cousin Lottie Axtell 1948
"The books are still selling well."
The descendants of Robert Arthur Axtell (8-622) and Lettice Jane (Carpenter) Axtell are all first cousins (several times removed now) of Laura Ingalls Wilder (1867-1957), the author of the "Little House" books. Robert Arthur's father, Dr. Milton Blachly Axtell moved from Sheakleyville, PA about 1856 and all his children were born in Pepin, Wisconsin, the birthplace of Laura Ingalls. Pepin is the inspiration for "Little House in the Big Woods."
Robert Arthur's brother Samuel (8-626) married Lottie's sister, Millicent Ann Carpenter (1869-1960), so their descendants are also first cousins of Laura Ingalls Wilder.
The letter below was scanned from the May 1980 Notes from Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Society, Inc. in Pepin, Wisconsin. It was in the possession of Lottie's son, Arthur Milton Axtell, who is pictured in the newsletter at age 82.
In the letter and the "historical fiction" books, Ma is Caroline Lake (Quiner) Ingalls (1839-1923) and Pa is Charles Phillip Ingalls (1836-1902). Ma's parents (the common ancestors among all these cousins) are Henry Newton Quiner and Charlotte Wallis Tucker. Ma's older sister, Martha Jane Quiner, married Charles Carr Carpenter. The Carpenters had many children including Lettice Jane and Millicent Ann. (Much of this information is gleaned from the Web.)
"Little House in the Big Woods" never mentions Laura's cousins on her mother's side. The cousin Lotty in the book is not our Lottie Carpenter Axtell. Biographies of Laura sometimes mention that Milton Blachly Axtell was the doctor in Pepin.
In the letter below, Mary, Carrie (Caroline), and Grace are Laura's siblings who survived infancy (one brother died). Rose is Laura's only child to survive infancy (one son died). Rose's only child (a son) died in infancy. Laura's sisters had no children, so in 1948 her closest relatives were Rose and her first cousins like Lottie. Alice in the letter is Lottie's youngest daughter, Alice May Axtell (9-758). De Smet is the South Dakota town where Laura spent her teenage years (when it was still Dakota Territory).
There is lots about Laura Ingalls Wilder on the web. Try starting with LauraIngallsWilder.com.
January 20, 1948
Dear Cousin Lottie [or Lettie],
Your letter was a pleasant surprise. It has been so long since I have heard from you and as you say "years and age have crept up on us.
I am sorry about you having rheumatism. My hands are not as nimble as they used to be, but still I am very well for 81 years old in February.
Manly is rather feeble, being crippled in his feet. He is ninety-one.
We are living by ourselves in our old farm house and I am doing all the work for ourselves and the house.
Pa and Ma died years ago and Mary lived with Carrie until her death soon afterward.
Carrie was married and living in the Black Hills not far from Rapid City. She died two year ago last June.
Grace had married a farmer about seven miles from De Smet. She died several years ago. As neither she nor Carrie had any children, I am the only one of our family living.
Sometimes I feel lonely when I stop being busy long enough to think. It does keep me hurrying to do the work and write as much as I must to keep up with the people who write to me after reading my books. The books are still selling well.
I had more than 200 Christmas cards and letters to answer.
Rose is living in Connecticut. She is Rose Wilder Lane and you may have read some of her books or magazine articles.
Give Alice my love and tell her I will be looking for her letter. It is nice that you can be with her. I was glad to have your letter and hope to hear from you again.
Lots of love,
Laura Ingalls Wilder
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