Friday, February 28, 2014

Bear Tracks Quilt Block and the Laura Ingalls Wilder Reading Challenge

Bear Tracks Quilt Block Pattern Information
This month, I participated in the 3rd Annual Laura Ingalls Wilder Reading Challenge as well as the Reading to Know Classic Book Club. I read the first two books in her Little House Series, Little House In the Big Woods and Little House on the Prairie.  These are actually re-reads for me, having read them when I was growing up and later with my sons and my students.  I have a classroom set of 25 copies of each book from when I was teaching 3rd and 4th grades! 
My favorite chapter in Little House in the Big Woods is called "Two Big Bears."  Ma accidentally slaps a bear, thinking it is Sukey, the cow.  Pa is scared of a bear in the nighttime that turns out to be nothing but a stump!
The best part of reading Little House on the Prairie is seeing how similar my great-grandfather's experience was with that of the Ingalls family.  The Ingalls family lived near Independence, Kansas from 1869-1871.  My great-grandfather, James Lynch, moved to Kansas in 1867, two years earlier than the Ingalls family, and settled about 100 miles north of them. 
My grandmother (his daughter) wrote a biography about him.  Here are some excerpts:
"James stayed in Illinois until November 1867 when he went to Kansas after getting letters from former neighbors. . . These neighbors had written to him that he could buy cheap land in Kansas.  He took the train to Topeka and the stage to Burlingame (in Osage County, Kansas) and visited these friends.  He bid on and bought 134 acres at four dollars per acre.  He then went to live with his younger brother Thomas and worked there that winter to get money to farm with.

"The next year, he (James) used a breaking plow hitched to a pony and an oxen and worked for Mr. Condell to pay for the use of them.  He made posts and used smooth wire to fence his land.  He later bought two oxen.  The grass was shoulder high.  His land was next to Elm Creek, with running water and shade.  On week-ends, he walked to Burlingame and back to get supplies (fifteen miles one way).  He bought lumber in Burlingame to build a one-room house east of where the present house is.  Mr. Condell and Mr. Cunningham were kind to James and took care of him when he was ill with ague.  It was a form of malaria, with chills and fever.  It came on regularly each afternoon, so he could only work in the mornings.

"There was only one house between his place and Emporia.  It was the Phillips rock house.  It was a stage rest stop and inn between Emporia and Burlingame, a distance of thirty miles.  There were many Indians near his land, but they gave no trouble.  They camped in the timber south of his house and came begging.  He would dig a hole in the ground to hide his meat and other foods they wanted, so they couldn't find it.  In 1868, the government rounded up the Indians in that timber and sent them to a reservations in Oklahoma.  Some wandered back and stayed around." 
James and Caroline Lynch Wedding Photo
Emporia, Kansas
March 3, 1880
I have made a quilt to go with his complete biography.  My grandfather led a very interesting life!  Click here if you'd like to see my Irish Great-Grandpa Sampler Quilt.
You might also enjoy reading my previous blog post Country Farm Quilt Block and Tea with Susan Branch.


  1. Yesterday I received a typed copy that my brother made from some of my mom's memoirs .( It was his way of dealing with all that snow in the Midwest and I especially appreciated it because he had trouble reading my mom's handwriting and, like me, is quite dyslexic, making typing very difficult even with a spell-check ... and i don't think he has one.)
    The life of my granddad growing up in a one-room log cabin must have had any parallels with The Little House in the Big Woods. I remember as a kid how much I hated history as it was taught in schools ... just memorizing dates and names of people and placed. .. But how I loved real stories, the Little House series, Johnnie Tremaine, .. (our 4th grade teacher read us one chapter a day and for me it was the highlight of the day.

  2. How interesting that he lived so near the Ingalls at such a similar time -- his tales do sound like they could come out of the Little House books. Really enjoyed this; thanks for sharing. I, too, taught school for several years and remember reading LH books to and with my kids :)

  3. How wonderful that you have such a great story and memories that have been passed down.

  4. There is a lot more near Emporia now. When I drive thru, that is where I stop.

  5. I reread the Little House books recently, I really loved revisiting Laura and her family. Did you know that my great-great grandmother and great-grandather Pasley settled just outside of Independence, about 15 miles from the Ignalls?

  6. Wow, how neat that their stories are so similar! And I am so impressed at the quilt made based on different aspects of his life.

    Thanks so much for joining in the LIW challenge!

  7. I just held the drawing for the Little House Cookbook for those who participated in the LIW challenge, and you won! If you already have the cookbook or would prefer a different LIW-related book in a similar price range, let me know. If you'll send me an e-mail with this information and your mailing address at barbarah06 (at) gmail (dot) com, I'll be glad to get your prize off to you!

  8. Love the quilt idea to accompany stories - especially family ones. Thank you for sharing about your great grandfather's life and experience (at least a bit of it?!) as that was very fun to read. How neat that you have documentation like this! Love the picture too.


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