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“In the West the land was level, and there were no trees. The grass grew thick and high. There the wild animals wandered and fed as though they were in a pasture that stretched much farther than a man could see, and there were no settlers."
~ Laura Ingalls Wilder, Little House on the Prairie, 1935
The word "prairie" (from the French word meaning "meadow") became widely employed by early immigrants and backwoodsman arriving in North America and viewing the great natural meadows of long grass. The formation of the North American Prairies started with the uplift of the Rocky Mountains near Alberta, Canada. The mountains created a rain shadow that resulted in lower rainfall downwind, resulting in huge swaths of rich grasslands which hosted giant herds of bison, provided rich lands for farming, and perfect topsoil for "prairie dogs", the burrowing ground squirrels known for their barking calls! In addition to the classic "Little House" Books, a series of semi-autobiographical American children's novels written by Laura Ingalls Wilder, based on her childhood and adolescence homesteading in the American Midwest in the late 19th century, there is a modern series of semi-fictional books about Laura's real-life Scottish great-grandmother, Martha. Although little is known about the real Martha Morse and her daughter Charlotte Tucker, a letter written by Laura’s sister, Grace Ingalls Dow, states that her great-grandmother, Martha Morse, was the daughter of a Scottish laird who married "beneath her station." 📙 🌾 🐿️
During several weekends in the summer and fall, Laura Ingalls Wilder Pageants and festival days take place in De Smet, South Dakota, Walnut Grove, Minnesota, and Pepin County, Wisconsin, recognizing the legacy of American author Laura Ingalls Wilder (1867 – 1957), best known for her Little House on the Prairie series of children's books based on her childhood in a settler and pioneer family.
Born in the Big Woods region of Wisconsin, Wilder had a peripatetic childhood, often moving from place to place as her family sought to find a place to settle. Charles Ingalls moved his wife and four daughters seven times in ten years, from land in Kansas still owned by the Osage; to Walnut Grove, Minnesota, a year into a grasshopper plague; to a failing hotel in Burr Oak, Iowa, and finally to De Smet.
This tartan, designed by Carol A.L. Martin, was inspired by the beautiful Canadian prairies which would have been recognized by pioneers in the same northern United States prairies as the Ingalls. The tartan colours reflect, "Large prairie fields ("quarter sections") of wheat and grasses with farm buildings with red roofs under clear bright blue skies."
The Laura Ingalls Wilder estate asked Harper Collins publishing to commission a series of books about Laura’s Scottish great-grandmother, Martha.
Martha Morse (and her daughter Charlotte Tucker) are somewhat fictionally chronicled in the books:
Little House in the Highlands (1999)
The Far Side of the Loch (2000)
Down to the Bonny Glen (2001)
Beyond the Heather Hills (2003)
Although not much is known about the real Martha, a letter written by Laura’s sister, Grace Ingalls Dow, states that her great-grandmother, Martha Morse, was the daughter of a Scottish laird who married someone the family considered "beneath her station." For more about this literary effort, click the red barn in the prairie landscape.