Little House on the Prairie Wiki

James Cooper Ingalls was the second adopted son of Caroline and Charles Ingalls who appears on the NBC-TV series Little House on the Prairie. The part of James is played by former child star, now veteran actor / director and producer, Jason Bateman.


James was born in the late 1800's and lived with his mother and father, and his little sister Cassandra. The family had become friends with Charles and Albert Ingalls. Charles and Albert came along with the Cooper family on a trip. On the way there as they were driving there, the two wagons came to a very steep hill. Charles managed to slowly make his way down with Albert and the two Cooper children, but as they soon came to the bottom and turned around, they noticed that Cassandra's parents had lost control of the wagon and went flying down the hill, tumbling over and being brought to their deaths. Suddenly, Cassandra and James Cooper were now orphans. (Episode 721: The Lost Ones (Part 1)

After many days of mourning, the Ingalls, along with the Cooper children, returned back to Walnut Grove. As they came over to the house, the first thing Cassandra saw was Mrs. Ingalls face. She quickly jumped out of the wagon and ran into Caroline's arms. She reminded Cassandra of her own mother.

As time went on, Charles decided that it was time for them to find a home for the children. As much as he wanted to keep them, he couldn't. Their house was too small, and already had too many people in it. Charles soon learned they have one living relative, Jed Cooper, a professional gold prospector; however, Jed Cooper was too run down, poor, and occupied with looking for gold and could not take on the children. (Episode 721: The Lost Ones (Part 1). Eventually, they managed to find parents for them, but the father only wanted a daughter to replace the one he had lost and despised James. He made both of them work and slave away--so much in fact, that they couldn't even manage to keep up with their studies in school. In addition, the oldest son of the family tried to get rid of them, going so far as to frame James for stealing. Therefore, James and Cassandra put an end to it. They decided to run away.

Upon discovering that Laura and Charles had reported to the Coopers that the children had skipped school, they ran away rather than face punishment. As they ran in the woods, James was caught in a bear trap, screaming in pain. Cassandra ran for help and was able to find Charles. Though he thought that it was an extremely unreasonable thing to do, he knew that the children belonged nowhere else but with them in the little house. Caroline was glad he did, having felt the same way for some time already. (Episode 721: The Lost Ones (Part 1), (Episode 722: The Lost Ones (Part 2)

James was in trouble later; once he stole at the Oleson's Mercantile to cover the fact he had broken Albert's razor, and briefly ran away with him because of what he did. While spending the night in an old man's house, the two brothers bond and get to know each other better and soon return home.(Episode 803: Growing Pains)

After becoming well-established in the Ingalls' household, their uncle Jed Cooper came to visit them in Walnut Grove. Now rich but alone, Jed decided that he loved James and his sister so much that he wanted them for his own. James and Cassandra resisted this, as they were happy living in Walnut Grove with the Ingalls. After being ruled now in the custody of Mr. Cooper, James and Cassandra were almost taken by Jed Cooper to his home in Minneapolis, Minnesota, but due to his illness and the realization that he had made a selfish mistake in going against the children's wishes. James and his sister remained with the Ingalls. He and his sister then respected their uncle again and gave him love. (Episode 815: Uncle Jed) It is not known if James or his sister ever saw him again. But Uncle Jed did send James some money for his twelfth birthday.

Later, James got shot while walking into a bank during a robbery and was later healed by a miracle. (Episode 821: He Was Only Twelve (Part 1), (Episode 822: He Was Only Twelve (Part 2). He and his sister no doubt followed the Ingalls family to Burr Oak, Iowa in the spring of 1887 after the Ingalls could no longer live in Walnut Grove, because there was no more work to be found there anymore. (Episode 901: Times Are Changing (Part 1)


James Cooper was not originally in the Little House Book Series.

See also

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