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Iowa History Daily: June 12 - Mary Ingalls Graduates in Vinton

Iowa History Daily: On June 12, 1889, Mary Ingalls graduated from the Vinton School for the Blind. Sister to the far-famed Laura Ingalls Wilder and staple character of the “Little House on the Prairie” series, Mary excelled at the school.

Born in Pepin County, Wisconsin during January of 1865, Mary lived an adventurous childhood alongside her sister before the family ultimately settled in Kingsbury County, South Dakota. At fourteen, Mary lost her sight to what doctors at the time called “brain fever.” Two years later, the family sent Mary west to Iowa to enroll at the Iowa School for the Blind in Vinton.

The family, struggling financially, worked together to scrape together tuition for Mary to attend. After dining on the blackbirds which recently decimated their crops during the train ride east, before sending Mary to the impressive Vinton in campus on a horse-drawn bus.

Students at Vinton received education in a variety of academic, artistic, and industrial subjects. A wide-ranging academic curriculum offering everything from arithmetic to zoology paired with instrumental and vocal music to provide for a well-rounded education. Industrial courses including carpet weaving, piano tuning, cane seating construction, and others provided practical training in skilled trades.

Although Mary missed the 1887-1888 school year according to institution records, she proved a high achieving student. School officials also praised her musical performance skills as well. In an age where schools also graded on deportment and conduct, Mary received the highest grade in her class. Returning to her family following graduation, Mary’s fly net making skills helped the family stay solvent following her father’s death. #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaOTD #IowaHistoryCalendar


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