Thanks to Nelson's observant eye, I realize that, when I posted this in my gallery, I ran out of characters.  There's only a little of the story missing, but it does make the ending sound better.  I'm posting it as a blog in it's complete form. 

Thanks again, Nelson.

I bet you thought you knew the whole story of The Little House On the Prairie.  Unless you know about Rose Wilder Lane, you don’t.

Rose was the only child of Laura Ingalls and Almanzo Wilder to survive to adulthood.  She grew up poor, on a farm in Mansfield, Missouri.  She didn’t feel so bad about it though when, after she was grown, her mother told her she and her sister had to share a school book, a slate and a single piece of chalk.  In spite of limited funds, Rose managed to receive a decent enough public education.  She was smart, curious, had a better-than-average memory and understood long hours and hard work.  Her down side was that she appears to have suffered from what’s now called bipolar depression.  In spite of that, she traveled the world, worked in New York as a writer and book editor and became very successful.

Rose married and had a son, who was stillborn.  She and her husband were divorced and she never remarried, but she never got over the loss of her child.  Through the years, she took on the higher education of four young men.  Some thought she was doing what she couldn’t do for her own son.

Just before the depression began, Rose moved home to the farm, to help her aging parents.  When the banks failed, she and her parents lost all their savings, nothing unfamiliar to most Americans at that time.  Just as things were getting scary, her mother, Laura, presented her with a stack of her personal diaries, written on school tablets, hoping Rose knew someone who could publish them in book form.  One look told the now well-trained Rose that the material had promise, but that it needed a lot of editing and rewriting to make them interesting to the publishing houses.  That’s when she and her mother entered into an often adversarial partnership.  Laura, always having been very dominant in their relationship, took her daughter’s opinion to mean that she wasn’t intelligent enough to have the diaries published as they were.  Rose was short of patience after a while, but wanted to help.  She thought this might be a chance for her parents to have a financially secure future, even while neglecting her own work.

After Rose’s agent had tried all the publishers and was told the condensed diaries needed to be rewritten with more editing, Laura grudgingly agreed.  All throughout the 1930s, they worked on the “Little House books” and eventually, just as Rose had hoped, the income they produced provided well for her parents.  Although she probably spent more time editing them than Laura had writing them, Rose never took credit for her part in the partnership.  Rose was able, eventually, to return to her travels and her own work.

A side note of Rose Wilder Lane’s story, although a very important one, is often overlooked, dwarfed by the Little House stories.  Her parents were staunch Democrats all her life, but during the depression, when government programs began to pay farmers not to plant crops, that’s where her father, Almanzo, drew the line.  All he knew was farming and he owned his land and didn’t want to be told what to do with it.  At that time, Rose traveled through the breadbasket of the United States, interviewing farmers and their families about how they were surviving.  They had made it through dust storms and locusts and illness and lack of cash, but they were having a hard time accepting the dictates of the Agricultural Adjustment Administration, the agency that was getting between them and their land.

For a short period of time, Rose fell in with the communist party and was impressed with it as an alternative to the Democrat Party.  She came very close to becoming a card-carrying communist.  Then, she read between the words of both their doctrine and what the American farmers had been telling her and decided there had to be a better alternative.  Along with a few others, she helped found the Libertarian Party.  She was credited with coining the word “Libertarian”.  Always a party on the fringes, without enough power to make real change, they have managed to influence politics in minor ways.  That probably wasn’t enough for the ambitious Rose Wilder Lane, but she certainly made her own contributions.

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Comment by Nelson Failing on May 27, 2015 at 12:44am

Thank you Fran for posting the ending of the story.....I was reading the story and noticed the end just petered out...

Comment by Fran Hoffpauir on May 27, 2015 at 12:36pm

Thanks for coming back for the ending, Nelson.  After I thought about it, I remember that it was starting to thunder when I was posting it in the gallery.  I was in a rush to shut down my computer and I guess that's why I didn't notice it.  Thanks again for letting me know.

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