Laura Ingalls (right) with her sisters Carrie (at left) and Mary (seated) c. 1880
Did you know that Laura Ingalls Wilder’s ancestors lived in Andover? She wrote the Little House series of historical fiction based on her experiences growing up on the American frontier in the 1860’s and 70’s, but two hundred years – and ten generations – earlier, the name of Ingalls was closely entwined with the early history of Andover . It’s easy to imagine that the earlier generations of the family possessed the same restless and pioneering spirit that Laura portrays in her books. Their movement, always westward to lands of promise and hope, started here when the Massachusetts colony was England’s frontier.
Edmund Ingalls was born in Skirbeck, Lancashire, England in 1585. He came to Salem, MA in Gov. John Endicott’s company in 1629 and, with his brother Francis and four others, was among the first settlers of Lynn, MA. He was a man of good character, but in April 1646 was fined for bringing home sticks in both his arms on the Sabbath day, witnessed by three of his neighbors. In March 1648 while travelling to Boston on horseback he was drowned in the Saugus River upon the collapse of a bridge he was traversing.
Edmund and his wife Ann Trip had many children. Their oldest daughter Elizabeth married Rev. Francis Dane of Andover. The Danes’ daughter was charged with witchcraft, but not convicted largely due to Rev. Dane’s efforts. Their second daughter Faith Ingalls Allen was the mother of Martha Currier who was charged with witchcraft, sentenced and hanged.
Their son Henry Ingalls (born in Skirbeck, England) sold land in Ipswich in 1652 and was one of the first settlers in Andover, buying land from the Indians and paying in clothing and trinkets. He was married first to Mary Osgood (on 6 Jul 1653 by Simon Bradstreet) and second to Sarah Farnham Abbot. They had 11 children, among them Samuel Ingalls, born in Andover Oct. 3, 1654. This was the first generation of the Ingalls family to be born in America. Samuel married Sarah Hendrek on 4 Jun 1682 in Andover. Among their children was son Samuel Ingalls (b. May 1683 in Andover died c. 1760) who married Mary Watts (1710- 27 Jun 1687) The next generations moved to Haverhill, MA, Sandown NH, and beyond.
The names of Ingalls sons are listed in military records of every war for the next hundred years. Captain Henry Ingalls of Andover led an Andover company in the French and Indian War. Nine Ingalls men from Andover fought at Lexington in April 1775, and 21 in total fought in the Revolutionary War. This was a strong and adventurous family, always on the move, well before they built their “Little House” in Pepin, Wisconsin.
The Andover Historical Society has planned a “Little House on the Prairie in Andover” children’s program, centering on 19th century pioneer life. The April 14 session for Girl Scouts has sold out, but a second program – also for troops or individual girls – has been added for Wednesday, May 5 from 3:30- 5:30 p.m. The cost for this pre-registered program is $8 per child, which includes a snack and all craft supplies. Call 978-475-2236 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve a place in this program or for more information about the corresponding “Farmer Boy” program especially for boys aged 6 – 10 years.