Mr. Edwards … that colorful Tennessee Wildcat Laura Ingalls Wilder so deeply loved. He helped Pa build the family’s cabin, saved Christmas by carrying presents across a raging creek, and spit farther than Laura thought possible. Though he was a little rough around the edges, Laura simply adored Mr. Edwards. Through her vivid, heartwarming stories, we came to love him, too.
But who was he? Virtually all Laura’s Little House characters were real people … even those whose names were changed to protect their reputations.
Mr. Edwards, however, wasn’t so easy to track down. In fact, he’s the sole Little House enigma … the only mentioned character that hasn’t clearly surfaced via historical records.
Was he fiction, for the sake of illustrating pioneer stereotypes? Was he a composite character, built from several men Laura knew during their time in Kansas? Was he a loose collection of memories and family lore, cobbled together for the sake of the narrative? Or was he a real man, whose full identity had previously evaded discovery? We wanted to know the answer …
So, we dusted off our boots and headed out … hot on the trail of the wildcat from Tennessee!