Exploring Boston with Charlotte Tucker

April 13, 2006 @ 3:33 am | Filed under: , , ,

CharlottetallI am still adding to the list of Martha/Scotland-related resources, but I thought I’d get started on the Charlotte resource page as well. Expect this one to get off to a slow start and grow gradually…

Laura Ingalls Wilder’s maternal grandmother, Charlotte Tucker Quiner Holbrook, was born in Roxbury, Massachusetts in 1809. We have birth and death records for all of Charlotte’s siblings, including the several small brothers and sisters who died in infancy. All we know as fact about Martha comes from a letter written by Laura’s youngest sister, Grace Ingalls Dow, who wrote that her great-grandmother, Martha Morse, was the daughter of a Scottish laird and married a man, Lewis Tucker, who was considered to be beneath her station. All the rest of Martha’s story as I have told it is fiction (though the details of her family’s lifestyle are historically accurate).

Charlotte left more of a paper trail, including a newspaper advertisement for seamstress services, listing a location at the intersection of Union and Warren Streets in Roxbury. Readers of Puddingstone Dam may recall that this is the location of the house the Tucker family moves to after the dam construction renders their Tide Mill Lane house a less favorable site to live.

The history of Roxbury, Massachusetts, is a fascinating example of the advantages and casualties of American urban progress. Originally, the geographical area that became the city of Boston was a bulbous peninsula connected to the mainland by only a narrow strip of land known as “The Neck.” Roxbury, founded in 1630, was the village at the other end of the neck, and so the only land route into Boston was through Roxbury, as seen in this map of:



(Compare with a map of the Boston area today.)

Gradually, the wetlands surrounding Boston to the west and south—an area known as the Back Bay—were filled in and built over. I tell a part of this story in Puddingstone Dam. Nowadays, the landscape of Boston is so drastically different from its original shape that it is hard to imagine it was ever a lonely spur of land jutting into the Atlantic. Roxbury, along with many other neighboring villages, was eventually swallowed up by Boston and is now simply a neighborhood in the great urban center.

I have loads of links relating to Roxbury, and I’ll get those entered as quickly as I can. (Although, as you know, the great event we are anxiously awaiting means that isn’t likely to be too quickly.) Here are a few to get us started:

The historic Shirley-Eustis House, former home of Royal Governor William Shirley.
Discover Roxbury.
Boston Family History‘s Roxbury section.

Still to come—resources about:

• Embroidery samplers
• Weaving
• School in Charlotte’s day
• Toys and games
• War of 1812
• Early 1800s cookery

Such as: The Old Sturbridge Village Cookbook: Authentic Early American Recipes for the Modern Kitchen—if your library has this book, you’re in for a treat. The “string-roasted chicken” recipe appears in Little House by Boston Bay

• Lydia Marie Child, author of The American Frugal Housewife and other books
• Living history museums and villages relating to Charlotte’s time period
• What made the news in Charlotte’s day (I have many period newspaper articles to scan in)
• Clothing and fashion
• Blacksmithing
• Poetry and literature
• Music
• Holidays and celebrations
• And more!

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12 Reponses | Comments Feed
  1. Avatar

    Dawn says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you, Melissa!! The boys and I are currently reading aloud the first Charlotte book and are completely in love with this little girl (AND your storytelling)! We live close to Boston, so a trip will be in order soon!! 🙂

  2. Avatar

    Angela, Mother Crone says:

    This is wonderful! Thank you again. We are going to be picking up a borrow spinning wheel at lunch today, as well as hand spindles, to work on our little “Martha” unit. I think we’ll save Charlotte for our fall trip to Boston!

  3. Avatar

    Meredith says:

    Lissa, this is so timely as Violet is wanting to read aloud all the Charlotte’s to me again!! You’re awesome!!

  4. Avatar

    shelby says:

    Melissa I love your books. They make me want to go there. Ikeep wanting to know when and what the next books are going to be called.

  5. Avatar

    tonyia tonore says:


    How can I obtain gently used copies of all of your series of The Martha Years and The Charlotte Years?

    Also, The Caroline Years, by Maria D. Wilkes…how many books are in the Caroline series????? I would love to order a complete gently used set as well.

    My baby daughter has read all the Little House books and ask about these series. Her birthday is in August. I would love to supprise her!!!

    All the very best,

    Tonyia Tonore

  6. Avatar

    Sue Battis says:

    Hi – My daughter and I will be starting The Charlotte Years in October (after we finish The Martha Years and studyguide). I was wondering if you have any links to a study guide for the Charlotte years books yet? Also, we are reading The Duncan War in conjunction with the Martha books and was wondering if you have a suggestion to go with the Charlottoe years. She loves these books so much, we’ve made this into our study of history! Thanks!

  7. Avatar

    Rebecca says:

    Thanks!!! For writing these books. They changed my life!!!! Please Write more!!

  8. Avatar

    Victoria says:

    Thank you so much for writing these books! They are a wonderful inspiration to me as a Christian homeschooling mom trying to live a simpler life. Your books are also a joy to read! I started reading the Little House and Farmer Boy books to my son (age 7) and now I am hooked as well.

  9. Avatar

    heather says:

    im related to te tuckers from my grand mother and were scottish to

  10. Avatar

    Tracy Sapp says:

    I was wondering why there will not be anymore books in the Martha or Charlotte series. I love these books & have read & reread them many times. I have also read the Caroline, Laura & Rose series many times as well. I would love to know what happens to Martha & Charlotte up to the times that they marry. Would a little friendly urging to HarperCollins help the stories continue? Thank You for these stories. I would love to read more of them.

    Tracy Sapp

  11. Avatar

    Mel says:

    HI Melissa
    I have found it IMPOSSIBLE to source your books anywhere. We are in Australia & have quite a few fans of Little house in our house. Can you point us in the right direction as to how we might get the series you have written?
    Thank you

  12. Avatar

    Melissa Wiley says:

    Melanie, I’m sorry you are having trouble tracking them down—now that they are going out of print, they can be very hard to find (or expensive on the resale market).

    I’ll post your question on the blog to see if anyone in your neck of the woods has ideas for affordable sources. Thank you for your interest!