Charles Frederick Ingalls: What happened to Charles Ingalls’ son?

Charles Frederick Ingalls
Seated Left to Right [Ma] Caroline, [Pa] Charles, and Mary; Standing Left to Right Carrie, Laura, and Grace

Most of us are probably familiar with the 1970s television show Little House on the Prairie. Laura’s only brother Charles Frederick Ingalls, who passed away on August 27, 1876, at the age of about ten months, received very little attention. Between Laura’s books “On the Banks of Plum Creek” and “By the Shores of Silver Lake,” he lived.

So Charles Frederick Ingalls was the younger brother of famed author Laura Ingalls Wilder. The name Charles Frederick Ingalls appears in the Ingalls family Bible, although Laura always referred to him as “Freddy.” He was born in Walnut Grove (Redwood County), Minnesota, on November 1, 1875, as the fourth child of Charles and Caroline Ingalls. Mary (born 1865), Laura (born 1867), and Carrie (born 1869) were his older sisters (born 1870). In 1877, Grace Ingalls was born.

Laura Ingalls Wilder writes in her Pioneer Girl manuscript that her family relocated to a small cottage in Walnut Grove “behind the church, and not far from the schoolhouse” so that she and Mary could attend school during the winter, and that her brother Freddy was probably born there.

In the spring, the Ingalls family returned to their Plum Creek preemption claim, and grasshoppers decimated the crops once more. The harmful insects were there for the entire month of June 1876, according to local history.

The Ingallses relocated to Burr Oak, Iowa, to assist the Steadman family in running the Burr Oak House, which had previously been held by Walnut Grove resident William J. Masters. On July 7, 1876, Charles Ingalls paid for his preemption claim and sold it three days later to Abraham Keller.

The family had elected to stay with Peter and Eliza Ingalls in Zumbro Falls, Minnesota (Wabasha County), until it was time to migrate to Iowa in the fall.

Her Brother Charles Frederick Ingalls felt ill while at Uncle Peter’s, and the doctor came to see him, according to Wilder. This was most likely Dr. Harvey Rogers, who lived and practiced only a few miles from Uncle Peter’s home in Zumbro Falls.

“However, little brother’s condition deteriorated rather than improving, and one terrible day, he straightened out his little body and died.” (handwritten manuscript for Pioneer Girl) “Fred Ingles” [sic] died August 27, 1876, according to Wabasha County death records (Book A, page 135); the cause of death was reported as diarrhea (an often-used spelling for diarrhea in these death records).

Several additional children in the county died for the same reason that year, ranging in age from 28 days to a year. Diarrhea in youngsters can swiftly cause dehydration and mortality in just a few days. It is unknown whether Charles Frederick Ingalls’s death was caused by a bacterial infection, viral infection, parasite, food intolerance, or anything else, but it seems likely that his disease could have been treated simply and successfully if he had lived in the modern world.

Freddy was buried in South Troy, Minnesota, according to the Ingalls family bible. Peter and Eliza Ingalls lived at Zumbro Falls in 1876, and the nearest cemetery was two miles south of the Zumbro River and across the road from the South Troy post office and town.

It’s conceivable that Freddy was buried alongside the Phelps family, Robert, and Elizabeth. Mr. Phelps was a member of the cemetery board when their son Martin died of a “liver ailment” on the same day as Charles Frederick Ingalls. It’s conceivable that he provided Charles Ingalls’ son a burial place in his family row.

A rough-hewn limestone marker was discovered buried near the shrubbery at the end of the Phelps row over forty years ago (before most Little House readers even knew Laura Ingalls had been in the Zumbro Falls area or had a younger brother who died there), as caretakers were probing the cemetery for sunken headstones.

The Phelps family’s headstones were all original and accounted for. This stone was excavated and relocated to the cemetery’s front, where it still stands today.

“If only Freddy had lived,” Wilder once wrote, “everything would have been different.” There would have been a male in the family to assist Pa on the farm, hunt, and do chores, as well as a son to pass on the family name. Freddy could have also been taught how to play Pa’s violin.

Laura rarely spoke of him, although later in her life she did say he had never been a healthy baby, and suffered convulsions before he died. Late in her life, Caroline Ingalls said, “Everything would have been different if Freddie had lived.

From Find a Grave we find this paragraph with a grave marker.

About Charles Frederick Ingalls’s family

Charles Frederick Ingalls comes from pretty large family- Here they are:

Charles Philip Ingalls Or “Pa”- ( Charles Frederick Ingalls’s dad)

In all of his incarnations, Charles had a wandering foot. In real life, his family had long been farmers, and he had moved numerous times as a child in pursuit of a better opportunity. After marrying Caroline Quiner, Charles followed the same trend with his own family, always looking for greater financial possibilities, particularly a prosperous wheat farm.

Charles opened up his property with the aid of his family after several transfers and efforts, but owing to health difficulties, he resigned from farming nearly immediately afterward. Charles and Caroline constructed the last house in De Smet, South Dakota, together.

Together Charles and Caroline built up one final home in De Smet, South Dakota. It’s known in Laura’s circles as the Third Street House and is where Charles and Caroline spent the rest of their respective lives.

Caroline Lake Quiner Ingalls or Ma ( Charles Frederick Ingalls’s mom)

Caroline grew up in a mixed family after her father died in a shipwreck on the Great Lakes and her mother remarried. Those were difficult years, and Caroline expressed a desire for stability. Caroline married Charles Ingalls and, inspired by his attempts to provide a better life for her family, she was dragged from “pillar to post,” as her book character puts it. Caroline was a strong pioneer lady who was prepared to go to any length to keep the family afloat. She loved education and sought to keep the family in style as best she could, having attended an institution “back east” near Milwaukee.

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Mary Amelia Ingalls (Fredrick’s oldest sister)

The Ingalls family had a fair-haired child named Mary. She was the oldest sister, and she was a dedicated student who enjoyed music and crafts. When she lost her sight at the age of 14, her independence and prospects were severely limited. Her blindness had a significant influence on her entire family.

Laura had to take on a bigger role and take on more responsibilities. The family made sacrifices to help pay for her education at the Iowa School for the Blind (support including money for tuition and books also came from the Dakota territorial government). The school restored a lot of Mary’s self-confidence, as it did for many others.

Carrie, Mary, and Laura

Carolin Celestia Ingalls Swanzy (Freddy’s sister)

Carrie is a member of the Ingalls family whose life may surprise viewers the most. She worked at a number of places before obtaining a job at the De Smet newspaper. E.L. Senn, who controlled a syndicate of publications in the Dakota Territory, recruited Carrie when she discovered her specialty in newspapering.

She married widower David Swanzey and homesteaded in Phillip, South Dakota, which she completed by preemption. She would spend the remainder of her life near Mt. Rushmore in Keystone, South Dakota.

Grace Pearl Ingalls

Charles Frederick Ingalls’s sister Grace was born 10 years later. Grace was still a child when Laura’s focus shifted away from the family, and she was only eight when Laura left the family to marry. Grace graduated from normal school, taught school, and married local farmer Nat Dow, who moved to Manchester, the next town down the railroad from De Smet, in real life.

Almanzo James Wilder or Manly

Almanzo, the son of a rich farmer, aspired to run his own profitable farm. Almanzo was born in New York and went to southeastern Minnesota with his parents before looking for his own property farther west. He met and married Laura while at De Smet, and the two began working toward their objective. Their initial endeavors were met with failure at every step. They started over in Mansfield, Missouri, and were eventually able to build a modestly successful farm. His stories were a source of inspiration for his wife’s books.

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Kennedy Gedzah

Kennedy Gedzah is a graduate of Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology-KNUST (2018). He is the Owner and has been the lead content creator at since 2020. His Passion for providing people with credible and well-researched information on the internet led him to build With more than 5 years of experience in blogging and writing, he has amassed sufficient knowledge on various topics, including biographies, fashion and lifestyles, Entertainment, and more. You can contact him via email:

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