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Mary Ingalls Graduates: Iowa Time Machine June 12, 1889

Iowa Time Machine ⏰: 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, in January 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 east 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, the family sent Mary to the impressive Vinton campus on a horse-drawn bus.

Students at Vinton received education in various 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 after graduation, Mary’s fly net-making skills helped the family stay solvent after her father’s death. #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaOTD #IowaHistoryCalendar


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