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Charles Phillip Ingalls
Personal Information
Sex/Gender: Male
Born: January 10, 1836
Birthplace: Cuba, New York, U.S.
Died: June 1, 1902(1902-06-01) (aged 66)
Deathplace: De Smet, South Dakota, U.S.
Family/Relatives: Adam Kendall (Son-in-Law)
Almanzo Wilder (Son-in-Law)
Baby boy Kendall (Grandson, stillborn) Adam Kendall Jr. (Grandson, deceased)
Rose Wilder (Granddaughter)
Baby Wilder (Grandson, deceased)
Spouse (s): Caroline Lake Quiner (m. 1860-1902, his death)
Children (if any): Mary Ingalls Kendall (Daughter)
Laura Ingalls Wilder (Daughter)
Carrie Ingalls (Daughter)
Charles Ingalls Jr. (Son, deceased)
Grace Ingalls (Daughter)
Albert Quinn Ingalls (Adopted son)
James Cooper Ingalls (Adopted Son)
Cassandra Cooper Ingalls (Adopted daughter)
Romances/Domestic partners: his wife Caroline
Height 5'9" 1/2
Weight 165-175 lbs.
Hair Color: Dark brown
Series Information
Played by: Todd Bridges (child)
Matthew Laborteaux (child- guest star)
Appeared on/in: Little House on the Prairie (TV series)

Charles Phillip Ingalls, or "Pa" (/ˈɪŋɡəlz/; January 10, 1836 – June 8, 1902) was the father of Laura Ingalls Wilder, known for her Little House series of books. He is depicted as the character "Pa" in the novels, and portrayed by Michael Landon on the long running NBC-TV series.

About Charles

Charles Ingalls 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, James and Cassandra Cooper. 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 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 was very close to his family. He loved his wife Caroline very much and always had a strong relationship with her, together they brought up a large family. He shared a close relationship with all of his children, Mary, Carrie and Grace but had the closest with his second daughter Laura, nicknaming her 'Half-Pint' during most of her childhood. The desire of Charles having a son put their relationship down as Laura became really jealous when his wishes came true after her brother's birth, Charles Jr. Eventually the baby's health deteriorated, the little boy dying months later. Because she didn't put him into her prayers to wish he'll be better, Laura believed that it was her fault and ran away from home only to be brought back after by her father, rekindling their previous relationship. That jealousy point out again after Albert, an orphan, came into the Ingalls family but this time Laura found a way to accept him as her brother, sharing Charles to him. Before leaving Walnut Grove, Charles and Caroline welcomed two other children, James and Cassandra Cooper after he realized that the kids wouldn't find no better place than his own family.

Personality and traits

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

  • 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] He appeared on the cover of TV Guide one time as well as Charles Ingalls, Michael Landon appeared on the cover of TV Guide several times as well as 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".
  • 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.
  • 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

The Ingalls Family
Little House on the Prairie
Charles IngallsCaroline IngallsMary Ingalls KendallLaura Ingalls WilderCarrie IngallsCharles Ingalls Jr.Grace IngallsJames IngallsCassandra IngallsAlbert Quinn IngallsJackBandit