Based on the popular books about family life on the frontier by Laura Ingalls Wilder, Little House on the Prairie is one of America’s most beloved television shows.
Michael Landon, Karen Grassle, Melissa Gilbert, Melissa Sue Anderson, Lindsay and Sidney Greenbush star as the Ingalls family, pioneers who make their home on the banks of Plum Creek near the town of Walnut Grove, Minnesota. The show is noted for its family-friendly qualities of instilling solid moral and social values, often taking on issues such as prejudice, adoption, and addiction, always leaving viewers with a lesson to think about, and usually balanced with a lighthearted storyline and a good degree of humor.
Charles Ingalls, “Pa,” is a hard-worker and dedicated family man. He’ll do whatever it takes to put food on the table, from farming his own land to working at Hanson’s Mill, and any other job to supplement the family farm. When his crops don’t yield enough to provide for his family, he leaves town in search of work. Though soft-spoken and not prone to violence or hot temper, he is a force to be reckoned with. When pushed, he will fight for justice. When he needs to teach a lesson to one of his children, for example, he imparts it with a tough love, standing his ground, yet showing great compassion. He is respected in town, reliable, a man of his word, and loved by his family.
Caroline Ingalls, “Ma,” displays a quiet strength. She, too, is a hard worker, is devoted to her family and loyal to her husband. While gentle in nature, she is fiercely protective of her children. She is a woman of faith and generous to the point of taking in strangers in need.
Laura Ingalls, the second-born of the Ingalls girls, has a special bond with her dad. She is his “Half-Pint.” As a young girl, Laura was a tomboy, more apt to take off and go fishing than to spend time in the kitchen cooking the fish. A feisty child, she has little interest in schoolwork. She’d much rather spend time with her many pets. She has a big heart, but through most of her childhood maintains a fierce rivalry with the cantankerous Nellie Oleson.
If Laura is the rebel of the family, her older sister, Mary Ingalls is the scholar. Mary has a gentle nature and is quite close to her mother. She, often, takes care of her younger siblings, nurturing and advising and when necessary defending. As a teenager, she is particularly challenged, when she loses her sight.
Carrie Ingalls, the youngest of the girls and the baby of the family during much of the series until baby Grace is born, is attached to her siblings and has a vivid imagination.
Over the years, Charles and Caroline adopt several children, Albert Quinn, James and Cassandra Cooper.
The town of Walnut Grove hosts some rather colorful characters. Harriett Oleson, the town gossip and her very tolerant husband, Nels Oleson are the proprietors of Oleson’s Mercantile. Their vain, mischievous daughter, Nellie Oleson is Laura’s childhood rival, and their son Willie Oleson is known as a prankster and troublemaker. Both are indulged by their mother. Others include: Isaiah Edwards, mountain man, farmer and Charles’ best friend; Jonathon Garvey, a farmer, and his family; John Carter, the blacksmith and his family; Hiram Baker, the doctor; Robert Alden, the minister; Eva Beadle and Etta Plum, school teachers; Lars Hanson, the lumber mill owner; among many others.