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Ask the Experts: The Hard Winter Guests

While you have been discussing the chapters of The Long Winter, Dr. Laura stated that another family lived with the Ingalls during that winter. I have not heard that information before and would love to know more about this fact.
Joan Cresimore

In Laura’s unpublished autobiographical manuscript, Pioneer Girl, she writes that George Masters, the brother of Genevieve Masters who is one of the prototypes for the character of “Nellie Oleson,” came through De Smet on his way out west and stopped to see them, as the two families had known each other in Walnut Grove. He asked if they would allow his wife Maggie to come out and stay with them so she would not be so far away from him, and Ma agreed.

The Ingalls family boarded Maggie (and her newborn baby) throughout the summer of 1880, and when winter set in and George’s work with the railroad ended until spring, George came and joined them.

Laura writes that though the Ingalls family neither asked nor wanted them to stay, they had no money and nowhere else to go — and so they stayed. Although Maggie was pleasant and they all liked her, George was lazy, greedy and selfish. It was a long hard winter indeed…

They were omitted from The Long Winter due to concerns that they would “mess up” the story that Laura wanted to tell.

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2 responses to “Ask the Experts: The Hard Winter Guests”

  1. Linda

    Very interesting. I hope one day to read more about it.

  2. Beyond Little House | The Long Winter, Chapter 22: Cold and Dark

    [...] only it had been that fair in real life: remember that recent post about that other family who lived with the Ingalls family during the Long Winter? Remember how George Masters was kind of a jerk? Yeah, he totally hogged the potatoes. In her [...]

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