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Charles Ingalls
Biographical information


Ethnic group


Hair color

Dark brown


January 10, 1836 (Cuba, New York)


June 1,1902


Caroline Ingalls (Wife)
Mary Ingalls Kendall(Daughter)
Laura Ingalls Wilder (Daughter)
Carrie Ingalls (Daughter)
Charles Ingalls Jr. (Son-deceased)
Grace Ingalls (Daughter)
Albert Quinn Ingalls (Adoptive-Son)
James Cooper Ingalls (Adoptive Son)
Cassandra Cooper Ingalls (Adoptive-Daughter)
Adam Kendall (Son-in-Law)
Almanzo Wilder (Son-in-Law)
Adam Kendall Jr. (Grandson- deceased)
Rose Wilder (Granddaughter)

Behind the scenes
First appearance

Pilot movie


Michael Landon (adult)
Matthew Laborteaux (child- guest star)


Charles Ingalls, or "Pa", was born January 10, 1836 in Cuba, New York. He is the husband of Caroline Ingalls and the father of Mary, Laura, Carrie, Charles Jr. and Grace; as well as the adoptive father of Albert Quinn, and James and Cassandra Cooper. He is also the patriarch of the Ingalls family. Charles' parents are Laura Colby and Lansford Ingalls. He has two siblings Peter and Polly Ingalls.

Charles grew up in Wisconsin and remained there with his family until it became too populated and it was starting to grow scarce of food. Caroline, Charles and their children left the big woods and went to Kansas. After many hardships they settled for a while but later were ordered to leave by the government because they lived on Indian territory.

The Ingalls family then settled in Plum Creek of Walnut Grove, Minnesota.

In order to obtain the deed for their land Charles took several jobs like working at Hanson's Mill and repairing the roof and stacking bags of grain at the feed and seed for Liam O'Neil; under the conditions that if it was not done in time O'Neil could take Charles' new oxen as collateral. At a family picnic, while getting a kite down from a tree Charles fell and broke several bones and was advised not to do any work by Doctor Baker.

Charles however attempted to finish stacking the grain bags at the feed and seed but soon was unable to continue. Laura and Mary followed Charles into town and tried to do the work themselves; and thankfully were soon aided by the men of Walnut Grove. The job got finished on schedule and Charles got to keep the oxen.


Charles grew up in the big woods of Wisconsin. While he was still a child, he met his future wife Caroline. When the Ingalls family was living in Walnut Grove Charles' mother died. Once receiving a letter about it Charles left to go back to Wisconsin to be with his father and to handle the funeral arrangements.

During this time Lansford became very despondent and after an argument with Charles tries to kill himself by setting his house on fire. Luckily, Charles saves his father and convinces him to go back with him to Walnut Grove. While staying with Charles and his family, Lansford began to develop and special bond with Laura. The bond is soon jeopardized however when Bunny, Laura's beloved horse injures her foot while jumping over a wired fence.

Lansford tells Laura that he'll nurse the horse back to health. After seeing how much pain it's in Charles decides to put the animal out of its pain. Lansford realized after the ordeal that he shouldn't of promised Laura, which makes Laura angry. After this, Lansford wants to leave Walnut Grove but Laura goes all-out in order for him to stay as long as he wants. He stayed in Walnut Grove for a while but did eventually return to Wisconsin.



Charles at the mill.

Charles had many jobs while the Ingalls family lived in Walnut Grove. He worked at Hanson's mill and farmed his own land mainly, but often had to venture out of the area if the Ingalls needed extra money. Once, after their wheat crop was destroyed Charles left to find something that would recoup their money. On the road he made friends with Danny Peters and Jacob Jacobsen.

Peters got Charles and Jacob both jobs in a rock quarry drilling the holes in the rocks so the dynamite could be placed. They also won a contest for being the fastest at drilling the holes in the rocks. Danny, who worked as a powder-monkey, later was killed from an accident with the dynamite. Jacob and Charles returned home and Charles gave Peggy Peters, Danny's wife his pay and belongings.

This marked the first of many times Charles did have to leave Walnut Grove to find work.

Additionally, Charles worked with explosives several times after this.



Charles fitting Mary for shoes.

Charles was very close to all his family.

Caroline Ingalls (Wife) Charles loved his wife Caroline very much he always had a strong relationship with her and together they brought up their large family.

Mary Ingalls (Daughter) Mary was the oldest of the Ingalls children and she and her father had a close relationship, Charles was always very protective over his eldest daughter.

Laura Ingalls (Daughter) Laura was the second of the Ingalls children and of them all she had the closest to Charles she had the nick-name of 'Half-Pint' which her father gave her when she was little.

Carrie Ingalls (Daughter) Carrie, the third of the Ingalls daughters had a very close bond with Charles when he went away Carrie felt very lonely as the rest of the Ingalls had a lot more work to do than usual and so Carrie did not get as much attention as she usually got off her father.

Charles Ingalls Jr (Son) Charles had always wanted a son but after he got his wish his son died this had a big affect on the whole Ingalls family but especially on Charles who loved his son dearly.

Grace Ingalls (Daughter) Charles' youngest daughter, although when Caroline was pregnant she asked Charles whether he would like a son or a daughter he did say he'd like a son however he was overjoyed to have a healthy baby daughter.

Albert Quinn Ingalls (Adoptive-Son) After Charles' only biological son died Charles and Caroline adopted a son who they found living alone and they then become attached to each other Charles asks Albert to live with the Ingalls family Albert accepts he becomes a big part of the Ingalls family.

James Cooper Ingalls (Adoptive-Son) Charles' adopted two more children after he adopted Albert, James became a second son to Charles and Caroline and another brother to the rest of the Ingalls family, he especially looked up to Charles.

Cassandra Cooper Ingalls (Adoptive-Daughter) Cassandra and her older brother James were the last children to join the growing Ingalls family and Charles brought them both into the family as soon as he realised that the children were better off with the Ingalls. Charles formed a close relationship with Cassandra.

Personality and traits


Charles and Solomon Henry.

Charles' personality is perhaps a bit more soft-spoken than most of the men of that time. When he did "lay down the law" so to speak, it was usually more of a tough love, though not always the case. An example of this would be when the Galender brothers came to Walnut Grove and attempted to rape Caroline. Furious, Charles went over to the cabin they were staying in and had a brawl with Sam and George Galender.

He lost the fight and was later found by Isaiah Edwards laying in the back of his buckboard knocked out. The Galenders reign of terror did come to an end, and they were forced to leave the town.

Charles did not usually succumb to violence though. On a different note, the Ingalls family often took people in to their home when no one else would, like Tod Dortmunder, who Charles "rehabilitated" in a sense after his grandparents couldn't manage him.

He also helped Graham Stewart, who was often beat by his alcoholic father, John by letting him stay at his home with Caroline and the girls while Charles helped John break his addiction.

Behind the scenes


Landon working the camera on Little House.

Charles Ingalls was portrayed by Michael Landon. Landon wrote, produced and directed many episodes of Little House. Michael Landon's portrayal of Charles has also credited as being one of the greatest television fathers of all time.[1][2] He also picked the cast members who were on the show.[3]

A few of the episodes in Little House were somewhat similar to Landon's first major acting role on Bonanza. Such as an episode where he would buy a piece of glass for a window, but it keep breaking from other characters accidentally sitting or standing on it.

Michael Landon appeared on the cover of TV Guide several times as well as Charles Ingalls, Little Joe on Bonanza and Jonathan Smith on Highway to Heaven. Satiric magazine Mad, did a spoof on Little House titled "Little House Oh, So Dreary".

Also worthy of note: it was Michael Landon's decision to blow up the town of Walnut Grove. As he stated in an A&E biography: "I wanted to destroy the entire town, which I did. Everybody needed the catharsis on that show. We were together for nine years, and that's why we blew it up. That, plus the fact, I didn't want anybody making a trashy movie at Walnut Grove, because I like that town."[4]



  • 1979 - Golden Globe, Best TV Actor - Drama (nominated)
  • 2004 - TV Land Award (nominated)


  1. - Greatest TV Dads
  2. TV Guide's 50 Greatest TV Dads
  3. Melissa Sue Anderson Interview
  4. A&E Biography

External links

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