This mother/daughter duo endured great hardships that made them stronger people. They also teamed up together to write one of the most popular children’s book in history.
Here’s a transcript of our conversation:
Connor: Hey, Brittany.
Brittany: Hi, Connor.
Connor: Today I wanna talk about two incredible women in history. One of them I feel like some of our listeners may know about, but the other one might be new, to them, to you guys listening. And, for anyone who’s ever read the books, the Little House on the Prairie, you’re familiar with Laura Wilder. She’s the author of those books. Well, the other woman, is her daughter Rose.
Brittany: You know, I’ve never actually read Little House, the Prairie Books. I remember I’d be homesick from school and like the show was like the only thing on Cuz there was a show about it.
Connor: Oh, that’s right.
Brittany: Yep. I was bored with that too, but that was never my thing as a kid. But I love her because I’m a huge fan of Rose Wilder later Rose Wilder Lane. she’s actually celebrated as an economist in a lot of ways. In fact, I have a shirt with her face on it that I got from the Mises Institute store, and it’s one of my favorites. And she was one of the first female libertarians. So she holds a very special place in my heart because honestly, she helped pa the way for women like me to do, you know, to bring more libertarians into the movement.
Connor: I think that’s exactly right. You know, her upbringing actually helped shape her views. Were, of course, sharing a story that is one of many in the Tuttle Twins Guide, to courageous heroes. And so you can head to Tuttletwins.com/products to check those out if you haven’t yet. And, you know, if you read the books, you might remember how life was rough, you know, on the Prairie. Yeah. And those who kind of traveled west were pioneers. They were, you know, settling land that no one else had really lived on yet. There was hardship. it was really difficult. And that was kind of the world in which these books, were written and took place. it was what they experienced. and so Rose for her, part, she grew up in South Dakota. and didn’t really enjoy it. In fact, she once said I hated everything and everybody in my childhood with such bitterness and resentment that I didn’t want to remember anything about it.
Brittany: She sounds like a really pleasant, lovely person to be around.
Connor: Well, luckily she used her experience to actually help her mom write the Little House series. And a lot of people don’t realize that she was one of the authors. Her mother is the one that was, you know, primarily associated with the books. But before Laura moved to South Dakota, they lived in Wisconsin, up there. They were surrounded by these like dense forests and that’s kinda where they lived.
Brittany: And, you know, as the books talk about, or what I’ve heard the books talk about since I’ve actually read them. but things were rough for Laura and friendly. I mean, they moved to South Dakota and Rose was born there, but this is before that. to say their life was rough would be an understatement. In fact, Laura once accidentally set her house on fire as a kid, destroying all her family’s possessions. I mean, I can’t even imagine because life was already so tough. You already had, you know, you couldn’t bring everything with you to, you know, when you’re walking across the planes. So I can’t even imagine how angry her parents were and how just guilty she felt.
And, you know, it wasn’t all pain and suffering though. I mean, the family also had these moments that they really treasured. And, I think especially when you go through hard trials in life, you really appreciate the good times even more. And, the good times can make the hardships easier to bear. and that’s a theme I think you see play out throughout the Little House books. And maybe in our life of relative comfort in the modern age, we lose a little bit of that perhaps. And I think that’s why there’s an allure to kind of the little house stories and, similar stories to kind of have a connection to the past when it was much more rough and tumble and the good times were maybe harder to achieve and, weren’t as prolonged. but I think in our own lives, Brittany, you can share the same thing that I can. Even though we live in more comfortable times, you know, we all have our challenges and we have our really tough times. But you get through them, you feel stronger, you feel more confident, and it really makes you appreciate when life is good. it just, you know, tastes a little sweeter I guess you can say.
Brittany: Yeah, absolutely. And, one thing I love about, there’s three main like libertarian founding women, and that’s Ayn Rand, who we’ve talked about before. Isabel Patterson, who maybe we’ll talk about later, and Rose. And one thing about these women is they’d probably terrify me if I met them today. Cause they were all just like tough as nails. You kind of had to be as a woman in like a male-dominated sector back then. But again, I think I’d be terrified. But Rose, it was almost like a premonition that she would be tough as nails. Cause she was actually named after the Prairie Rose that somehow managed to grow in even the roughest places. And that to me was, is just really poetic and beautiful because it emulates or it’s an example of everything you just said, right? That there can be beauty in these hardships. So when Rose was born, her mother believed that she was a symbol of hope. and maybe in a hope that things would be better. And her parents actually had another baby and he only lived for 12 days. And they were so heartbreak at Broken, they decided, you know, we’ll just focus on Rose. We’re not gonna try again because I can’t even imagine losing a child. I mean, that would just be terrible. So Rose grew up as an only child.
Connor: Well, and there were more tragedies for the Wilders as well. You know, they’d, that grew crops of course, on the prairie. And, it wasn’t really easy to do. again, it wasn’t this fertile land that others had already been, you know, growing a lot on. They’re having to like do this from scratch. And at one point they had a ton of debt. they didn’t have any income. they were in a really bad spot. You know, they would contract diseases. They were sick from time to time. Laura and her husband, had a very deadly disease at one point. And she healed completely. But her husband was paralyzed. you know, he had to use a cane for the rest of his life. And, when you live out on the prairie, right, you need the man basically to be able to do a lot of that, manual heavy labor. And, so having a husband be paralyzed in those circumstances, you know, you can imagine would be probably pretty terrifying.
Brittany: You know, we talk a lot about hero’s journey and how there’s always that dark, the dark night of the soul, as a lot of people call it, where it’s like, things are so bad, you’re beginning to think your hero’s never gonna make it. And this was kind of the point where the family could not seem to cash a break. And because of their financial problems, they had to start moving around a lot. They lived in Minnesota for a bit, they lived in Florida. And sometimes things were so bad they ended up just having to stay with relatives for long periods of time cuz they couldn’t afford their own place. But by 1893, and this was not the Great Depression, but this was when the country was on the brink of another terrible depression. Cuz we go through depressions and recessions quite often, and that’s gonna be a good conversation maybe for a later, episode. But when that happened, the family headed back to South Dakota. But then finally a few years later, they settled in Missouri, which is actually one of my favorite states. It’s fun to go visit. They haven’t been there. But there was a large, apple orchard. They bought a large apple orchard and a dairy farm, and they were raising hogs and chickens. And this was the first time in, you know, their married life. And with Rose that their burden started to lessen. You know? And thank goodness for that. They finally had income. They were finally doing okay.
Connor: Well, at this point, Rose is, getting older. She’s getting a little restless, you know, with this life and the travel. And she wanted to go to this, you know, bigger, faster-paced city.
Brittany: I can relate to this.
Connor: And maybe that’s why you have her t-shirt. and so she went to stay with an aunt, and they quickly bonded. And, she actually rose. She, started to really thrive. she was becoming a very talented writer. she also became really, political. Now what’s interesting I think is that you know, we all make mistakes in our youth. We all maybe wander down paths we shouldn’t before we kind of make a course correction. And, Rose might say that that’s what happened to her. She actually became very interested in socialism.
Brittany: Yeah, that’s gross. I don’t.
Connor: Well, look past it cuz we know what happens later, And, she even worked on this, this failed campaign for president, for a guy named Eugene Debs. And, but in some respects, it’s understandable. Like put yourself in her circumstances, she grew up really poor and she kind of resented those who had more than she did, who had comfortable lives, who didn’t have to experience the hardships that she and her parents did. And, she had this like desire, this burning desire to make things equal. She didn’t want other children to endure what she did. That’s a good thing. That comes from a place of love. right? It’s well-intentioned. and so she sees early on in her life that socialism is the answer. Of course. That’s what today it’s the same thing, right? It’s free healthcare and free education and pay off your college debt and, you know, free school and all these things. And, you know, these ideas are well-intentioned. They’re just awful ideas because they never work. And they mask all the problems, you know, with this mask of, you know, do goodery, right? Like, things will be great, we’re gonna help people. And that’s kind of the allure of socialism. And I think that’s why Rose was so attracted to it.
Brittany: We did, you know, an earlier episode about how socialism can make you miserable. And part of that is the envy part of it, right? You get so mad at what you don’t have and what others have that you get caught up in that. But, when Rose finished, you know, high school, she couldn’t afford to go to college. So she worked a series of jobs, even real estate for a little bit. But her real passion was writing. And this is I think why I love her so much as a writer. So in 1908, she published her very first article in the paper. I think the paper’s called San Francisco Call. San Francisco’s been a haven for socialists, it feels like, forever now. But, so she had always loved reading her mother’s journals. Her mom had kept journals of her hardships, you know, on the Prairie. And after her own success, she started kind of pushing her mother to start writing as well. And typewriters were like a luxury back then. You have to realize that that was not something everybody had. And her father had finally bought, Laura, her mother, a typewriter. And so both women began using this typewriter to write and both started getting published in newspapers.
Connor: I think it was, she was around 28 years old, I think, when, when she got a column, in this newspaper in San Francisco. And she would write all kinds of stuff, fiction, non-fiction, news stories, opinion piece. And, she became like this household name. I mean, people started recognizing her name. She would get published in papers across the country. And, Brittany, you know, clench your teeth a little bit. Maybe you’re not gonna like this next part, but she went actually from a socialist to a full-fledged Marxist communist, basically by the time she was in her thirties.
Brittany: Yeah, I don’t know.
Connor: And, you know, you can burn your t-shirt later No, but it gets better, right?
Brittany: She gets better.
Connor: She’s traveling at this point with the Red Cross. She actually visits some communist countries. And to her credit, right, she sees the failings, she sees what is going wrong that this like theoretical idea that she believed in that sounded good on paper, right? That promised all these beautiful things and equality in helping the poor. She actually went and saw the implementation. She saw that these systems simply don’t work. And so she shifted her political beliefs with that new information. She actually became a very strong advocate of individual liberty as a result.
Brittany: You know, it’s not easy to switch your beliefs. So I’ve always kind of admired her for that too, because having to question what you believe in and say, you know, Ooh, maybe I was wrong. Takes a lot of courage. Yeah. but this is how I found out about her because she started hanging around with people like Ayn Rand too again, I would’ve been terrified of. and we’ve discussed her before then Isabel Patterson and these were, you know, two pioneering women of Libertarianism. And Rose was, you know, already becoming this big political person writing these essays. And, her mother was finally taking her old journals. And this is when she started turning them into the little house on the Prairie Books. But Laura asked Rose for help. And so this is a really fun story cuz this is where like this mother and daughter duo starts, you know, be, you know, coming this thing. And they worked together to get the series completed. So it wasn’t just Laura, this was a, you know, group effort between the two of them.
Connor: And I think it was in 1932 that the first little House book was published. Laura, by this time, she’s 65 years old, that’s home. but the book became like an immediate success. They kept working together, as you said, to make sure that, these books had messages of, you know, individual freedom and self-reliance and earning what you know, work hard for. and making sure that Little House had these messages in there using the popularity and influence of these books to spread and, promote messages of liberty. And, you know, rose would go on to write other things. She wrote, you know, the Discovery of Freedom.
Brittany: Great books.
And all kinds of things, right? About Liberty and she was a great writer and own regard. But it’s really fun to know that this was kind of the influence, behind the Little House books.
Brittany: You know, and there are a few lessons we can take from these two women. And that’s, you know, why they’re in the Courageous Heroes book. first Overcoming Obstacles is a skill, not many people have too many people. And this is where we get like the phrase snowflakes, right? Too many people hit one obstacle and they give up and you know, oh, this life is too hard. I’m such a victim. Yeah, yeah, I gotta, but writing books and talking about their obstacles and finding the light at the end of the tunnel, that’s not only helping you grow as a person, but that’s how great art is created. it’s that overcoming of the obstacles. And as far as Rose is concerned, you know, she was a pioneer woman for someone like me, and I don’t love identity politics. I don’t like, you know, identifying as, oh, I’m a woman, so I have to like these other women. But as I mentioned earlier, she dared to be one of the first females in a very male-dominated political scene. And she impacted people like me with her writing and that’s why I’m here. So I have a lot of respect for her.
Connor: Well, we will link on the show notes page to some resources where you can learn more. Of course, make sure to check out Tuttle Twins Guide to Courageous Heroes and the other guidebooks that we have now published for pre-teens and older, and the adults as well, of course. And, so you can go check out those resources. The show notes will be at Tuttletwins.com/podcast. Thanks as always for listening, guys. We really appreciate it. And Brittany, until next time,
Brittany: We’ll talk to you later.