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1854: A RealLife ʺLittle Houseʺ Story

Introduction: Laura Ingalls Wilderʹs novel, Little House in the Big Woods, made life on the Wisconsin frontier real to thousands of young readers. Here is a 5page memoir of a pioneer girlhood in Wisconsin thatʹs as vivid as Wilderʹs. Angela Haste was 5 when she traveled by covered wagon to Wisconsin in 1856. Writing for her children and grandchildren, 80 years later, she described her clothes, games, food, holidays, school, and daily chores as her family created a homestead in the wilderness of Waupaca County. She also recounts home life during the Civil War when all the men and older boys went away and many, like her big brother, never returned. Two other documents listed below show pioneer settlement from slightly different perspectives than Angela Haste Favellʹs. Emmanuel Philipp wrote his reminiscence of Sauk County at the request of the Wisconsin Conservation Commission, providing a look at frontier life for boys. The second document is a journal kept by teenager Sarah Foote as her family traveled to Wisconsin from Ohio in 1846.

Background Reading: ʺ19th Century Immigrationʺ http://www.wisconsinhistory.org/turningpoints/tp018/?action=more_essay

Document to Analyze: Favell, Angela Haste. ʺA Girl Pioneer in the Wisconsin Wilderness. Milwaukee Journal, Aug. 7, 1932 http://www.wisconsinhistory.org/turningpoints/search.asp?id=954


Who, What, Where, When, Why: This document was written by Angela Haste Favell whose family settled in Waupaca County in 1856. Her audience was originally her two children and four grandchildren, but her story was then printed in the newspaper as an example of pioneer life in Wisconsin. Favell wrote this account when she was 80 years old and living in Superior. Like many grandparents, Favell probably sought to share her memories with her family before her unique experiences were lost to history.

Related Documents: Philipp, Emmanuel. “Gov. Philipp writes story of his boyhood.” Wisconsin State Journal, 21 March 1920. http://www.wisconsinhistory.org/turningpoints/search.asp?id=1387 and Foote, Sarah. A Journal Kept by Miss Sarah Foote… April 15 to May 10, 1846. http://www.wisconsinhistory.org/turningpoints/search.asp?id=32

Vocabulary: Unfamiliar words are defined at www.wisconsinhistory.org/dictionary


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