CUBA — Less than a week after attending a Little House on the Prairie cast reunion in Walnut Grove, Minn., several out-of-state travelers are visiting the area with an aim toward memorializing Allegany County’s connection with the family on which that celebrated show was based.
At 2 p.m. today, John Bass, president of the Shreveport, La.-based Ingalls-Wilder-Lane Historic Alliance, plans to present an historical marker to the Cuba Historical Society commemorating its connection to Laura Ingalls Wilder, author of the “Little House on the Prairie” books.
Pa Wilder, Laura Ingalls Wilder’s father whose real name was Charles Philip Ingalls, was born in Cuba on Jan. 10, 1836, 31 years before his daughter Laura was born in Pepin, Wis. The property where Charles was born, said Mr. Bass, is on Spring Valley Road, near Jackson Hill Road.
“We do historical markers and create “Little House” sites at all the places where there’s nothing,” said Mr. Bass. “We historically marked Ma Ingalls’ birthplace in Brookfield, Wis., and in Concord is where they met and married. Then they moved to Pepin, which is where Mary and Laura were born.”
Mr. Bass will present the historical society with a blue sign bearing yellow trim and lettering that documents Pa Ingalls’ birth to Lansford Whiting and Laura Louise Colby Ingalls as well as a brief history of their immediate families.
As well as having founded the Ingalls-Wilder-Lane Historic Alliance in Louisiana, Mr. Bass also runs the Wilder Historical Society of Louisiana and is the event coordinator for the Mary Ingalls Society in Iowa.
“I do a lot — anything to commemorate Laura Ingalls Wilder and her family,” he said.
Mr. Bass, he said, has traced his lineage back to the Ingalls family tree. He made the trip to Olean with Sue Ingalls Francis, another descendant, and her granddaughter, Ericha Redmond, who, Mrs. Francis said, “would be Laura’s ninth cousin.”
Also, during his childhood, Mr. Bass became a fan of both the Laura Ingalls Wilder books and the “Little House on the Prairie” television show. He connected with one of the cast members at a young age — Michael Landon, who played Pa Ingalls.
“I even called Michael Landon at one point, Michael Landon Productions, and told him how much I loved the books and loved the TV show,” Mr. Bass said. “He invited me out to be a part of the set, like a guest extra, because of the interest I had at a young age.
“Unfortunately I didn’t get to make it because my parents were very busy working. But they did send me pictures, and I became friends with a lot of people. On my Facebook page, you can see pictures of me with a lot of the cast members. I’m personal friends with a lot of them.”
The sign Mr. Bass will present notes that Charles Ingalls’ father, Samuel Worthen Ingalls, Sr. is buried in Bolivar’s Maple Lawn Cemetery. According to Mr. Bass’s research, Margaret Delano Ingalls, Charles’ paternal grandmother, is buried at North Cuba Cemetery on Smith Road, “which is located near their original property.” Charles’ maternal grandparents, Nathan and Eunice Blood Colby, rest there, as well.
Along with the sign he will present to the historical society, Mr. Bass said, other plans are in the works.
Mr. Bass hopes to also, in the future, arrange for a road marker to be placed near Charles’ birthplace in Cuba.
“That’s something we’ve got to work out the details with the state highway department, the local owner of the property and so forth,” said Mr. Bass.
That marker, he said, would be smaller than the one he’ll present today and would bear Charles Ingalls’ birthdate.
A book — a collaboration between Mr. Bass, Mrs. Francis and Patty Dowd Schmitz — is also in the works.
“I think Patty, her idea is to follow Pa’s entire life,” Mr. Bass said.
After making the 11-hour drive from Louisiana to Western New York, the trio is heading for the Genesee Country Village and Museum’s Laura Ingalls Wilder Days in Mumford this weekend. Melissa Anderson, who played Mary Ingalls on the television show, is expected to be in attendance.
But, Mr. Bass said, “This is the highlight of the trip for me.”
(Contact reporter Neil Linderman at OTHLinderman@gmail.com)