Carrie Ingalls : biography
Caroline Celestia "Carrie" Ingalls Swanzey (August 3, 1870 – June 2, 1946) was the third child of Charles and Caroline Ingalls, and was born in Montgomery County, Kansas. She was a younger sister of Laura Ingalls Wilder, who is known for her Little House books.
In the media
Carrie was portrayed in the television adaptations of Little House on the Prairie by :
- Twins Lindsay and Sidney Greenbush in the television series Little House on the Prairie and its movie sequels,
- Haley McCormick in Beyond the Prairie: The True Story of Laura Ingalls Wilder part 1 movie.
As a child, Swanzey (according to Wilder) had been small, thin and frail, and of all the Ingalls family members, Carrie seems to have suffered the most through the deprivations of the hard winter of 1880-1881. Wilder remarks in a later book that Carrie "was not recovering from the hard winter as she should" (Little Town on the Prairie, chapter 12). Swanzey was not constantly ill, but she never did enjoy robust physical health during her life. She traveled to several places in her young adulthood seeking a more comfortable climate, but always returned to the harsh winter climate of South Dakota.
During her late teen years Swanzey was a typesetter for the De Smet News, and subsequently, other newspapers throughout the state. On August 1, 1912, at age 41, she married widower David N. Swanzey (1854–1938), who is best remembered for his part in the naming of Mount Rushmore. She thus became stepmother to Swanzey’s two children: Mary Swanzey (born in 1904, married Monroe Harris, 14 children) and Harold Swanzey (1908–1936). Harold Swanzey was one of the workers who helped carve Mount Rushmore and his name can be found on the granite walls below the monument. Harold was later killed in a car accident.
With her sister Grace’s help, Carrie took care of their sister Mary after their mother’s death in 1924.
Carrie was enthusiastic about Wilder’s books and helped her by sharing her childhood memories. Like Grace and Laura, she suffered from diabetes. She died of complications from diabetes in Keystone, South Dakota on June 2, 1946, at the age of 75. She was buried in the De Smet Cemetery. She outlived her youngest sibling Grace (who died of diabetes) by nearly five years. Swanzey’s husband died in Keystone on April 9, 1938.
Laura Ingalls Wilder was the longest-lived Ingalls daughter by far, outliving Mary Ingalls by 29 years, Carrie by 11 years, and Grace Ingalls by 16 years. Laura Ingalls Wilder eventually also succumbed to diabetes at age 90 on February 10, 1957.