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|Behind the scenes|
Edwards was a good man but troubled he had many bouts with alcoholism, loss of faith, and depression due to past personal tragedies as a result he was known to get into brawls and gamble away his money. However, he would remain a good and faithful friend to the Ingalls' family and Laura's family.
Little is known about Edwards' childhood where he was born and raised or anything about his parents or any siblings. Isaiah was practicality raised in the woods and was an expert hunter and survivalist. (Episode 311: Blizzard), (Episode 212: His Father's Son) He apparently never went to school for reasons unknown and thus never learned to read or write and had to have others write and read things for him. (Episode 218: The Long Road Home), (Episode 212: His Father's Son) In adulthood, he married a woman named Alice and had a child to whom he loved very much. They lived happily for a time in an undisclosed location. Sometime before the mid-1870s, Alice and his child contracted Smallpox and died a tragedy that he blamed on God. Depressed and alone, Edwards started having problems with alcohol and gambling getting himself into trouble but at heart he remained a good person. He was caught in a bad blizzard sometime in the winter 1873. (Episode 311: Blizzard) He started getting involved with some undesirable and unreliable persons some of which lived in Mankato. (Episode 124: To See the World) He settled in Kansas. (Little House on the Prairie: The Pilot)
Meeting the Ingalls
The Ingalls family first met Mr. Edwards when they settled in Kansas and Edwards was their closest neighbour. Edwards helped Charles build their house and formed a close bond with Laura, teaching her how to spit (Isaiah helped them build their house and taught Laura, with whom he always had a special bond, how to spit, much to the displeasure of Caroline (much to the horror of Caroline, who didn't trust him.) When the Ingalls had to leave Kansas, they gave Isaiah the livestock that they couldn't take with them to Plum Creek, Walnut Grove.
Edwards later risked his life by delivering Christmas presents to the Ingalls during a blizzard with nothing but his long-johns on. This made Caroline trust and respect him. When the Ingalls were forced by the government to leave Kansas a teary Edwards said goodbye to a deeply upset Laura while Charles and Caroline thanked him and gave him a few of their unneeded possessions (such as a cow). (Little House on the Prairie: The Pilot)
First life in Walnut Grove
The Ingalls family settled in Walnut Grove, Minnesota. Shortly after their arrival, Charles was picking up some merchandise for Nels Oleson when he found Isaiah drunk in a saloon. After sobering him up, Charles persuaded to come to Walnut Grove and visit the family. Isaiah stayed with the Ingalls for a little while but eventually got his own place. Edwards then promised Laura that he would stay in Walnut Grove and Charles helped him get a job at Hanson's Mill and Edwards lived with the family for a while. (Episode 105: Mr. Edwards' Homecoming). During this time, he met Grace Snider, his future wife. Prior to meeting Grace and the Ingalls, a disease killed both his wife and daughter, as he told Charles.
Edwards told the children many tall tales and fed them the most oddest of foods (such as a rattlesnake stew) while he was entrusted with their care while Charles and Caroline went on a second honeymoon in Mankato.(Episode 109: Ma's Holiday) After Laura ran away after the death of Charles Jr., Mr. Edwards helped Charles search for her before she returns. (Episode 115: The Lord is My Shepherd (Part 2)
After a devastating prairie storm, Mr. Edwards contracts typhus but eventually recovers due to Charles and others finding the source. (Episode 120: Plague) While on his way to purchase a hunting rifle, Mr. Edwards accompanies the young Johnny Johnson to Mankato on his way to see the world. He helps the boy return home to his father. (Episode 124: To See the World)
Caroline tried to set him and widow Grace Snider up together however he was able to charm her all by himself. A major problem in him and Grace's relationship however was that Edwards didn't believe in God. Caroline found out this is because he was deeply depressed because he thought God let his wife and child die of smallpox; however, he came to ignore this and went to Church with Grace. (Episode 206: The Spring Dance) Mr. Edward's and Grace start a relationship. Right after marrying Grace, the two adopted John Jr., Alicia, and Carl Sanderson, the three children of Julia Sanderson. (Episode 207: Remember Me (Part 1), (Episode 208: Remember Me (Part 2)
Grace and Isaiah live well but encounter a few problems with their children. In an attempt to bond with his oldest adopted son, Mr. Edwards buys an expensive Winchester rifle for the boy's birthday, thinking that the best way to bond would be upon common ground. Edwards thought that they should go hunting in the woods, but John Jr., who dislikes hunting, gives Edwards a note explaining his feelings. Unfortunately, Edwards can't read, but he pretends he can, then carries on with the hunting trip despite John Jr.'s apparent dismay. Edwards is soon attacked by a bear, and John Jr. is paralyzed with shock, unable to do what Edwards requested before he's able to run off to get help at Edwards' anguished request. Edwards recovers from the attack, and after John Jr. finds out his adoptive father can't read, the two bond. (Episode 212: His Father's Son)
Other troubles were when his youngest son Carl nearly burns down their barn lighting off a firework he bartered from Willie Oleson, and later nearly loses him on a caboose that Carl unknowingly sets loose and becomes a runaway. He and Charles comb the either local countryside looking for Carl and the Ingalls children and find them. When they find them, Mr. Edwards embraces the boy despite the mischief he had got into. (Episode 216: The Runaway Caboose) He and Charles experience financial hardship and are hired to haul a wagon-load of dangerous blasting-oil over rough country. When the company is harassed by highwayman, he saves his co-workers from being robbed by tricking them into thinking he was about to let go of one of the bottles of oil, and left believing it would explode killing them all when in really it was only some of his homemade corn-whiskey. (Episode 218: The Long Road Home)
Edwards helps Laura cope with the loss of her horse Bunny and explains to her how he once blamed God for the death of his first wife and children, and helps find her when she runs away to find her grandfather. (Episode 307: Journey in the Spring (Part 2) Mr. Edwards has had two encounters with Mountain Fever, the first time it took the lives of his wife and daughter. The second time his daughter lived with the help of Laura Ingalls (she thought she caught it after having spots on her. It turned out to be poison ivy). A possibility of how Edwards brought this to Alicia could be because he drank out of the same bottle that belonged a man with the fever, but this is just speculation. (Episode 313: Quarantine)
The Edwards family shared many happy and tragic times one being a dangerous job handling dynamite to help Charles earn enough money for Mary's operation. (Episode 316: To Live With Fear (Part 1), (Episode 317: To Live With Fear (Part 2). At one point, they moved to gold country with the Ingalls, but left after watching as greed destroyed the neighboring prospecting families. (Episode 321: Gold Country (Part 1), (Episode 322: Gold Country (Part 2).
Life after Walnut Grove
The Edwards family left Walnut Grove after gold country. He and Grace moved away and Isaiah came into fortunes owning a profitable logging empire, and lived in a large well-furnished house with their adopted children and did not see or hear from the Ingalls family for years. Isaiah's legs were crushed by a falling tree while trying to save Alicia from being hurt or even killed by it. Isaiah soon gave up on life turning away Carl and making Alicia feel sad. Grace wrote the Ingalls for help. Charles and Laura came to visit him, but were at first unable to bring him out of his depression: Charles had to prevent his friend from committing suicide on two separate occasions. In order to snap him out of this state, Charles pretended to have a injury from a gun accident and Isaiah has to go for help. Soon after this, Mr. Edwards was back to his normal self. (Episode 608: The Return of Mr. Edwards)
Mr. Edwards was stricken with another tragedy when his oldest son John Jr. was murdered on the streets of Chicago investigating corruption. Isaiah never recovered from the loss of his son and went back to drinking. Grace and his remaining children continued living with him for a time but due to his continued drinking and broken promises to stop, grew tired of him. By the day of Carl's birthday, Grace had had enough of him and his drunkenness and after walking into the house drunk spoiling Carl's birthday party, she announced her intention to leave him. After a brief loss of control, he understood and left her and the kids peacefully.
Afterwards, Isaiah comes back to Walnut Grove pretending as usual to be in good spirits and visits Laura and rest of the Ingalls. Soon after, his drunkenness causes an accident in Sleepy Eye which nearly causes the death of Albert. After finding out that Edwards was responsible, Charles confronts him. Furious, he warns Edwards to stay away from him and his family leaving Laura and Almanzo his only hope.
After learning that Grace has left him and was living with another man, he again tries to get some alcohol but can't and does not. After realizing his mistakes, he enters the church and appeals to God for help. Reverend Alden overhears his prayer and tells him of how he had once been faced with the loss of everything, and how God had helped him and can help Edwards. He was present at the baptism of Rose signaling his desire to begin a new life. (Episode 819: A Promise to Keep)
Second Life in Walnut Grove
After his falling out with Grace, Mr. Edwards returns to Walnut Grove and begins living there again on his own until the episode of the "Wild Boy" where he, Laura, Almanzo and Jenny Wilder meet a mute boy named Matthew Rogers. He was put on show as a Wild Boy and Jenny convinces them not to turn Matthew in after he escapes. Mr. Edwards takes Matthew to his house, cleans him up and Laura teaches them sign language because Matthew can't talk with his voice. When Matthew's "guardian" comes back to claim Matthew, Mr. Edwards fights for custody and wins in the end. (Episode 906: The Wild Boy (Part 1), (Episode 907: The Wild Boy (Part 2)
Edwards became a good citizen of the town respected and loved by all and helped defend it against wrong-doers and the railroad's empire-building. (Episode 904: Rage), (Episode 909: The Empire Builders) He was also known to clash with Mrs. Olesen snapping back at her when she was acting in her usual snippy attitude. (Episode 918: A Child With No Name)
Matthew lives with Isaiah up until the last episode. Matthew becomes like another son to him-even though we don't really see Matthew until the last episode again, but it is said that Matthew appears in the two part episode "Home Again".
Matthew's biological father appears looking for him and wants to take him home. Matthew is hostile to his father and wants to stay with Isaiah but after a while, Matthew starts wondering about his dad after he drops by and gives him his mother's Bible. Matthew then chooses to leave with his father and Mr. Edwards moves in the boarding house Laura and Almanzo run. (Episode 922: Hello and Goodbye)