Charles and his family settle on farmland by Plum Creek just outside the town of Walnut Grove. To support his family until he can bring in a harvest, Charles works several jobs, establishing himself as a valued community member and a man of his word.
Mean Nellie Oleson snubs Laura and Mary for wearing homespun dresses on their first day at school and, when Laura later complains, Caroline reminds her to be kind to Nellie to win her friendship. But Caroline forgets her own wise words, loses her temper with Nellie's haughty mother, store owner Harriet Oleson, and impulsively buys dress fabric she can barely afford. Later, Laura struggles to write an essay for the Visitors' Day program and Caroline must decide what to do with the expensive fabric. When Visitors' Day arrives, their love for each other helps both mother and daughter solve their problems.
When their wheat crop is ravaged by a hailstorm, the discouraged Walnut Grove men leave town to search for work. During his long walk, Charles meets Jack Peters 'powder monkey', a flamboyant hard rock miner who recommends Charles for the well-paying but dangerous job, part of a 2-man hole drilling team needed to hand-set blasting charges in a rock quarry. Meanwhile, back in Walnut Grove, Caroline organizes the women to try to salvage what they can of the damaged wheat. In the end, though separated by distance and circumstance, the pioneer families work together to meet the challenge of unpredictable prairie life.
While in Mankato, Charles is surprised to find Isaiah Edwards, the mountain man befriended by the Ingalls family on their journey to Minnesota. The two men return to Walnut Grove together to find young Laura sick in bed and a worried Mr. Edwards promises to stay until she recovers. But Mr. Edwards' deep concern for Laura stems from a devastating personal loss and he cannot forgive the one he holds responsible. Will the Ingalls' friendship and a budding romance with postmistress Grace Snider help Mr. Edwards come to terms with his past or will he leave Walnut Grove for good?
Friction results between the Ingalls sisters when young Laura falls hard for handsome Johnny Johnson who, in spite of all her efforts to get him to see her as more than just a little girl, seems to only have eyes for older Mary.
Certain that only her funeral will bring her distant children and grandchildren to Walnut Grove for a long overdue visit, Amy Hearn convinces Doc Baker and the Ingalls to fake her death and happily makes plans to celebrate her eightieth birthday ... at her wake!
Laura befriends Olga, a girl crippled from birth with one leg shorter than the other and who, as a result, is teased by Nellie and often left out of the other children's games. But when Charles comes up with a way to help Olga walk more normally, he meets unexpected resistance...from Olga's over-protective father.
While on a second honeymoon trip with Charles in Mankato, Caroline can't help worrying about what's happening back home in Walnut Grove where old friend, Mr. Edwards, finds that babysitting three active little girls is not as simple as it seems.
Caroline's special efforts to teach a shy, older boy to read while she is substitute-teaching for an injured Miss Beadle are ruined when mean-spirited Mrs. Oleson humiliates him in front of the class and he vows never to return to school.
Blaming herself when Laura's doll breaks during a game of catch, Mary is delighted to give her sad, little sister an abandoned, baby raccoon. After Pa reluctantly agrees to let her keep him, Laura names him "Jasper", teaches him tricks and tries to keep the mischief-maker out of trouble. But one day, Jasper bites Jack, the Ingalls' dog, and disappears into the woods. When Charles later shoots a snarling, rabid raccoon who is killing the chickens and begins to watch Jack for signs of rabies, a tearful Mary reveals a terrible secret... Jasper had also bitten Laura who made Mary promise not to tell.
A deaf-mute traveling tinker may have the only solution after Rev. Alden's request for a new church bell starts the Kennedys and Olesons feuding over who will donate the bell and who will take the credit.
A frightened, angry Caroline impulsively forbids Mary from taking a scholarship exam as punishment for accidentally starting a late-night fire in the barn where she had gone to study to keep from waking her sleeping little sister, Laura. But more than anything, Mary wants the exam winner's prize, a beautiful, new Webster's Dictionary, and when she delays telling her teacher that she won't be taking the test, Laura worries that her big sister is planning to defy their mother.
Jealous of the attention Charles showers on his newborn son, Laura longs for the place she believes she's lost in her pa's affections and angrily refuses to pray for her little brother to get well when the baby becomes seriously ill.
Believing that her jealousy was responsible for her infant brother's death and that her parents would rather have a son than a spare daughter, Laura climbs the highest hill she can find, hoping to get as close to God as possible to ask Him to take her instead and return the baby boy to the family. While Charles and Mr. Edwards desperately search for her, Laura meets Jonathan, a mystical mountain man who seems to have been sent purposely to guide her through this life-changing experience.
Christmas is coming and everyone is saying that it is a time for secrets and not to ask questions. Laura wants to buy something expensive for her mother and has to come up with a way to pay for it. Mary tries to decide what to make her Pa. Carrie uses her Christmas penny to buy a special present for Baby Jesus. It is a good Christmas!
Divorce looms when Nels and his dog storm away from Harriet and the mercantile after the Olesons quarrel over the price of eggs. But the situation only gets more muddled when the townsfolk try to help them reconcile, prompting Harriet to pack her bags and causing some to wonder, a little wistfully, if Walnut Grove wouldn't be more peaceful if the volatile woman left town for good.
It's love at first sight between Doc Baker and a beautiful, though much younger, Kate Thorvald, Harriet Oleson's visiting niece; but when Kate happily consents to become his wife, Doc's concerned friends wonder if the May-December romance and the harsh reality of sharing a prairie-doctor's life will give the genteel, city-bred girl second thoughts and result in heartache for both of them.
With the sudden intensity of a prairie storm, typhus is unleashed on an unsuspecting Walnut Grove, teaming Charles with Doc Baker and Reverend Alden, who work together to the point of exhaustion tending to the community's sick and dying; but when new victims begin to pour in from the surrounding countryside the desperate men know they must find the source of the plague if they expect to stop the deadly epidemic.
Jovial Willie O'Hara, a traveling, patent-medicine salesman, comes to Walnut Grove with his talking crow and chimpanzee "circus", appears to immediately cure Mr. Hanson's incurable headache and convinces most of the community that his remedy is good for anything, and everything, that ails them. But an angry Doc Baker must intervene when Mrs. Oleson believes that the potion will cure her life-threatening appendicitis and later, Laura learns a difficult lesson when she expects O'Hara's miraculous medicine to heal her seriously injured best friend...her beloved dog, Jack.
The Walnut Grove community intervenes after a badly-beaten Graham Stewart is found unconscious on the floor of his cabin, the victim of his father, John's, drunken rage. While Graham recovers at the Ingalls' farm, John Stewart reluctantly agrees to let Charles Ingalls help him dry out and, in the process, begins to face the root of the anger that drives him to drink and hurt the son who loves him.
Fearing a swindle, angry Walnut Grove farmers vent their frustration on the anxious, pregnant wife of the man who promised them a good deal on hybrid corn and then doesn't show up with the grain as agreed, unaware that an accident has overturned his fully-loaded wagon and left him lying seriously injured down a steep slope, just out of sight of the road.
While on their way home to Walnut Grove after a trip to Mankato, the Ingalls family are unexpectedly snowbound, with little food, at a remote mountain cabin by a late-spring blizzard. But a desperate situation soon turns deadly when a renegade U.S. Marshall, blinded by hate, shows up half-frozen at their door, only moments ahead of the man he has vowed to bring back dead: a Sioux Indian chief who has just saved Charles' life.
Taking full responsibility for filling Johnny Johnson's head with exaggerated tales of travel and adventure, Mr. Edwards goes with him when Johnny takes off to see the world, hoping to protect the credulous farm-boy from dangerous situations and unscrupulous characters while trying to convince him to go back home.
Walnut Groves' Founder's Day festivities promise fun and friendly competition for all except aging logger and "Bull of the Woods" Jim Tyler, who secretly fears losing the log chopping contest, and with it his self respect, to a younger, stronger Charles Ingalls.
Mr. Ingalls and his employer Mr. Hansen are anticipating a large income from a big job they have done. The Ingalls plan to pay their bill at the Mercantile store and more. Unfortunately, when Mr. Hansen learns that his client cannot pay, that means he cannot pay Mr. Ingalls and has to close his mill. With the bonus income lost, and the lack of regular income, the family has to think how they will pay their debts and keep up their other duties. Mr. Ingalls works for the livery owner, grooming and caring for the horses he owns. Once done there, he works for a local farmer to fix an irrigation system on his property. But, the women of the family want to help, too. Caroline and Laura plant a double crop of vegetables for the winter and plan to sell the eggs as they have been collecting. Mary plans to leave school temporarily to work for Mrs. Whipple, the seamstress, sewing assorted clothing items for ladies of the community. Laura continues in school, bringing home lessons to Mary so she doesn't get behind on her schoolwork. When she herself gets behind on turning in her homework, she tells Miss Beadle she ran out of tablet paper and doesn't want to ask her father to buy it. Miss Beadle offers a solution to the problem and all is much better.
The mysterious decline in Mary's school performance is explained when Charles discovers that she needs glasses; but the joyous self-confidence that comes with Mary's improved eyesight is short-lived after Nellie and Willie incite the rest of the class to call her "Four Eyes" and tease that she'll end up a spinster like teacher, Miss Beadle.
Laura Ingalls is stunned to learn that her amiable fishing friend is none other than Walnut Grove's new banker, miserly Ebenezer Sprague, and heartbroken when he accuses her of becoming his friend to secure a loan for her family.
Jebediah Mumfort's keen eye and fast arm seem to be just what Walnut Grove's baseball team needs to go up against Sleepy Eye's powerful hurler, Slick McBurney, and end their long-standing losing streak. But, hopes are dashed when his devout wife, Margaret, finds out that most of the town is wagering on the outcome of the game and refuses to let him play; until Caroline Ingalls proposes a creative solution that may save the day and give Walnut Grove the chance to finally defeat their nemesis .
Although many in Walnut Grove think he's a homicidal maniac who lives in a haunted house, brave Laura Ingalls befriends mysterious hermit, Amos Pike, and soon discovers the truth behind both the rumors and the old man's reclusive life.
Caroline is puzzled when her plan to provoke Isaiah Edwards to jealousy doesn't result in an invitation to the annual spring dance for his anxious gal, Grace Snider, until Charles reminds her what happened when she tried the same tactic with him years before.
A woman of strong faith, widow Julia Sanderson is unafraid of Doc Baker's diagnosis of incurable cancer, but knows she must help her three children cope with the news of her imminent death and secures neighbor Charles Ingalls' help, and his promise, to keep them together in a good home after she's gone.
When it appears no Walnut Grove family will adopt all three of the Sanderson children together, a weary Charles fears he must break his promise to their mother, resigning himself to finding good homes for them, even if it means one of them may be forced to move far away from the other two.
In spite of a rocky start and over Charles' strong objections, the Olesons accompany the Ingalls on a family camping trip and, surprisingly, the oft-feuding families begin to enjoy each other's company. But will the warming relationship between them survive a cold plunge into a rushing river and Willie's rash decision to add a special leaf to his collection...the one that Mary won't touch?
Laura swears her friend Jonah to secrecy after the two uncover a shiny golden ore lying in the bed of their favorite fishing hole and both begin planning what they will do with the great wealth they are sure to have once they've mined their treasure and taken it to the bank.
With the money they raised, the Sunday school class decides to buy a new Bible for Reverend Alden's birthday. Mary is entrusted with the total revenue: $1.67, and the new Bible they'd like to buy costs $3.00. Laura has an idea how they can quickly turn their $1.67 into $3.00: by spending the money on holistic medicines and selling them at 25 cents a bottle. They'd raise $3.00 in no time. However, their first attempts at pedaling the medicine prove unsuccessful. As the reverend's birthday draws ever closer, Mary and Laura, having sold no medicine, are faced with a huge dilemma. Will they fess up and admit to Reverend Alden that they have no gift to bring, or have they, in a way, already given him a much more valuable gift?
Trying to interest his newly adopted son in more "manly" pursuits than reading and writing poetry, Isaiah Edwards buys a rifle for John Jr.'s birthday and stubbornly insists that the two of them go turkey hunting, even though the sensitive teenager has made it plain that he doesn't want to go. But a life-threatening situation during the hunt and a secret revealed afterward, result in a life-changing event for both of them.
Mary worries that she'll disappoint Walnut Grove if she doesn't place first in the state mathematics competition after the community pays her way to represent them; meanwhile Laura's feelings of jealousy towards her older sister are soothed and she begins to feel more grown-up after her wise Pa asks her to take charge of the Ingalls household while Caroline accompanies Mary to Minneapolis.
In this episode Caroline cuts her leg, the cut becomes an infected bacterial infection which then puts her on a life and death collision course. "Bacterial infections were quite common during those days and times as well as Tetnus too.
While on a trip to Springfield, Carl Edwards accidentally releases the brake on a caboose that he, Mary and Laura are exploring, sending the lone car and the terrified trio hurtling down the tracks towards an oncoming express train.
When teacher, Miss Beadle, is deemed unable to control some of the rowdy, older boys in her class, Mrs. Oleson convinces the Walnut Grove school board to replace her with a firmer, male hand. But the new schoolmaster tries to bully his students into submission and singles little Laura out as a troublemaker, blaming and punishing her for the slightest infraction even when she isn't the one responsible.
When their grain doesn't sell for enough to see their families through the winter, Charles and Isaiah hire on with the railroad to haul a wagon-load of highly explosive nitroglycerin over a treacherous mountain road and, as their journey progresses, find themselves dealing with situations almost as volatile as the freight they so carefully carry.
Caroline and the girls can't help but think the worst when Charles begins to behave mysteriously and later lies about the amount of time he has spent doing carpentry work for their lovely, young neighbor, the widow Elizabeth Thurman.
An immigrant family provides an example of thankfulness and a reminder that freedom isn't free after a property tax increase leaves most of Walnut Grove in no mood to celebrate the United States' 100th birthday.
Coming home after 12 years of performing with a busy Philadelphia orchestra, Mrs. Whipple's troubled son, Granville, hopes that the peace of Walnut Grove will help him shake the nightmares and the morphine addiction that resulted from an incident during the Civil War Battle of Shiloh.
Overwhelmed by the senseless destruction left in the wake of a devastating tornado, a bone-weary Charles Ingalls convinces himself to give up trying to make a life for his family on an unforgiving prairie, puts the farm up for sale and prepares to move back to the big woods where he was born.
After rescuing a seriously ill, unconscious Reverend Alden from his runaway wagon, down on his luck plainsman, Caleb Hodgekiss, puts on the clergyman's collar and devises a plan to fleece the charitable townsfolk of Walnut Grove.
When Nellie Oleson is seriously injured after falling from Bunny, a horse that used to belong to Laura Ingalls, Nellie's mother blames Laura for the accident and orders the animal destroyed. But Laura secretly steals her still-beloved Bunny away from Mrs. Oleson's vengeance and resigns herself to the penance of waiting hand and foot on a demanding, bedridden Nellie.
Conniving Mrs. Oleson is so certain that her scheming and daughter Nellie's new thoroughbred racehorse will beat Laura Ingall's speedy mount, Bunny, in the Hero Township horse race that she puts up a valuable family heirloom as first prize.
Passing the Oleson's house while out with Mary for a night of window soaping on a spooky Halloween eve, Laura hears a loud argument and peers in the window just in time to witness Mr. Oleson swing his sword... and cut off Mrs. Oleson's head!
After a letter from Wisconsin brings the sad news of his mother's death, a grieving Charles travels back to his boyhood home in the big woods, hoping to convince his heartbroken father to return with him to Walnut Grove.
Life in Walnut Grove with Charles, Caroline and three active grandchildren seems to be just the tonic Grandpa Ingalls needs to help him recover from his wife's death until a broken promise after a terrible accident reopens an old wound and drives a wedge between him and granddaughter Laura.
To save him from Farmer Parsons shotgun, Laura takes a cantankerous billy goat in trade for doing chores for Mrs. Parsons, names him Fred, and finds, much to her dismay, that mischievous Fred's constant companion is trouble.
Following Reverend Alden's lead, the Walnut Grove townsfolk try to turn the other cheek when the bad behavior of the recently arrived Galender brothers causes tempers to flare, until a series of incidents begins to reveal the trio's more sinister nature.
Laura feels like she has grown enough to go hunting with Charles so they let her. While unrolling the bedroll, she accidentally knocks over the gun that Charles left loaded and ready to shoot. It goes off, hitting Charles in the abdomen. Laura has to try to help him back to the trapper's cabin. She manages to get him on his horse, but when they are going up a hill, it's too steep and the horse and Charles slide back down the hill. The horse dies. Charles sends Laura to the cabin to get help. She gets there and the trapper has gone off to check his traps and only his blind father is in the cabin. Laura needs someone strong to help her get Pa to the cabin. The blind man helps her but then Laura insists that the blind man help her find the road they came in on so that she can find Mr. Edwards at their meeting place and send him to get a doctor. It'll take a miracle to save Charles.
Mr. Edwards adopted son, John, must choose between going away to school for several years to realize his dream of becoming a writer or marrying his true love, Mary Ingalls, and living the life of a farmer in Walnut Grove.
Counting on his immunity to protect him from the deadly mountain fever that killed his first wife and daughter, Isaiah Edwards takes Doc Baker to help with neighboring Elmsville's outbreak. But after contact with an infected townsman, Mr. Edwards unwittingly carries the disease back to Walnut Grove and when daughter, Alicia, develops symptoms, he must fight to save his new family while the rest of the town goes into quarantine.
Mrs. Oleson rewrites Alcott's "Little Women" to ensure Nellie is the star in Walnut Grove's school play based on the classic story; but shy Ginny Clark steals the show when, taking a lesson from her character, Jo, to try to get her bitter mother to come to the event, she surprises everyone by playing her part to perfection, both on and off the stage.
Jeremy Stokes lives in Walnut Grove. His daughter Amelia was rumored to have been kidnapped by some Indians. When her husband is killed she and her son, Spotted Eagle, come home to live with her father. Jeremy says that while in Walnut Grove, Spotted Eagle will be called Joseph Stokes. He doesn't want to claim the child as his own flesh and blood. His story is that that her daughter was kidnapped and she is just taking care of Spotted Eagle. Amelia tells Caroline that actually she fell in love with Spotted Eagle's father and that Spotted Eagle is her actual son.
While Mary fights a life-threatening infection and the hospital bills mount, Charles puts himself and a railroad tunneling team in danger by volunteering to complete a dangerous blasting job in unsafe conditions to earn the cash bonus he so desperately needs.
Yearning to escape the hard life that sent his father to an early grave, the young son of poor, black Mississippi sharecroppers makes his way to Walnut Grove and offers to sell himself to the Ingalls' family in exchange for an education.
Laura is playing with Anna when Nellie walks by and says she is starting a club and they are going to play in her room and she invites Laura but Laura wants to play with Anna so Nellie says she can come too. Laura is enjoying a music box, but Nellie is being bossy and tells everyone to pay attention to her so when Harriet directs everyone downstairs a few minutes later for refreshments, Laura steals the music box. She takes it home to play with in the loft of the barn, but when she thinks someone is coming, she gets startled and drops it and messes up the part that plays the music. Laura tries to fix the music box, but Nellie catches her. Laura says that she will be in Nellie's club and do anything she wants if she won't tell her parents. Nellie makes Laura be mean to Anna. Laura has several nightmares about how she would be punished if her parents and Nellie's parents found out that she stole the music box.
As a prank to make him look foolish, the older boys of Walnut Grove school nominate the object of their practical jokes, gentle Elmer Dobkins, to run for class president against popular Mary Ingalls and wealthy Nellie Oleson. While Mary and Nellie wage their campaigns with promises of popcorn and gum balls, Mr. Dobkins witnesses his son being teased by the older boys and, when he finds out why Elmer was nominated, angrily orders him to pull out of the election. But, when election day comes and the race seems too close to call, a cruel act and children tired of being bullied decide the outcome.
When a particularly rainy growing season in Walnut Grove destroys any hope of a harvest the Ingalls and the Edwards families set out on a 400 mile trip to the Dakota gold fields, hoping to pan enough gold to see them through the cold Minnesota winter. There they meet other families with similar hopes and dreams as well as those who will stop at nothing to acquire the wealth they desire. Can Charles and Isaiah keep their families safe and reach their goal in this wild and dangerous country?
The Ingalls and the Edwards strike gold on their Dakota claim and, as the men work at extracting the ore, Caroline and Grace start a school for the miners' children with the help of the local minister, Reverend Phillips. But even as the families try to lead a normal life, greed, the bane of the gold rush, raises its ugly head. Caroline is alarmed when even Charles is unable to define how much gold is 'enough' and when Laura's discovery of an old miner's secret results in murder and betrayal the Walnut Grove residents begin to question their motives for staying any longer in this dangerous country.
An eccentric old woman who has set up her "house" in the center of town and a stray dog who hitches a ride to Plum Creek from Mankato in Charles Ingalls' wagon both, in their own way, help Laura through the loss of an old friend and teach her and rest Walnut Grove lessons in love and acceptance.
An excited Mary Ingalls accompanies her father to the Chicago Grange Convention to surprise her true love, John Edwards, by accepting his invitation to a cotillion in person. But, surprises are in store for everyone as both Charles and Mary experience a trip very different from the one they each expected.
After eleven year old Ellen Taylor accidentally drowns while swimming on a hot summer day with the Ingalls girls, her grief-stricken mother, Eloise, first blames Laura for asking Ellen to go to the pond with them and then, unable to accept the reality of her little girl's death, begins to imagine that Laura is Ellen.
Meddling Mrs. Oleson starts tongues wagging when a handsome itinerant handyman stays in the Ingalls' barn while helping Caroline with a kitchen addition after Charles is called out of town to work on Mr. Hanson's railroad lumber contract.
Laura and Andy find a Mama in a trap and two pups nearby. They take the "dogs" home, only to find out they are wolves. At the same time, some dogs that used to be pets but were released to the wild have gotten really wild and have been attacking some livestock in town. Charles and Caroline have gone out of town and Mary is left in charge of Laura and Carrie. She is under stress so she is a little too bossy and Laura runs to her tree house as often as possible or hangs out with Andy. They overhear that Jud Larabee (whose livestock was attacked) knows about their wolves and thinking they are responsible is going to come and kill the wolves. So, Laura and Andy move the wolves to Laura's barn. While out there, Carrie and Mary hear the dogs coming and they all go to the barn and end up trapped in the loft because the dogs burrow under the door and get in. The local farmers come to the rescue and kill the dogs and find out that the mama wolf actually saved Andy's life!
Junior detectives Andy and Laura take tips from fictional sleuth Farnsdale Fremont of Scotland Yard to track down the mysterious Walnut Grove chicken thief, ruffling a few feathers of their own along the way.
Holding himself responsible for a farmer friend's death and unable to face the man's seven-months pregnant widow, a disheartened Doc Baker leaves his Walnut Grove practice in the hands of a self-absorbed Philadelphia physician and decides to raise corn.
As Walnut Grove school begins to study the Civil War, Mary Ingalls unexpectedly learns firsthand information when she starts running errands for two mysterious newcomers who sided with the South. But Mr. Hobbs and Mr. Dankworth are hiding more than just their war affiliation and the whole town comes under siege when an overzealous posse rides in, prepared to capture them at any cost.
After the Garveys' grain-filled barn burns down and leaves them with no crop to sell, proud Jonathan refuses to accept help from anyone, even his wife Alice, and their marriage is put to the test when neither half of the stubborn couple will consider the other's solution to the problem.
A road-weary, aging boxer who has sacrificed his family and his health for the only career he has ever known, comes to a long-dreaded crossroads when he unexpectedly meets his match in a ring in Walnut Grove.
The Ingalls and others from Walnut Grove go to the fair. Mary finds her friend Patrick who happens to be working for the balloon show. Since somehow a pickpocket has stolen his wallet, his coworker, Cass McCray agrees to take Mary around and buy her some goodies. Laura plays a shell game and quickly uses up her money. To make some more, she agrees to sit in the dunking booth. After she has sat there for 30 minutes, Nellie comes along to taunt her. At the same time, Laura realizes that two guys are coming that are sure to have a good arm, so she tells Nellie that the game is rigged and she just has to act scared and if she wants, she'll let Nellie work the second half of her hour. Sure enough, Nellie goes down on the first shot. Caroline is trying to get her entries registered in the canned vegetables and so Carrie has to wait with her. Charles and Nels rope and ride a wild mule and win some money. Her parents ask Laura to take Carrie to the merry-go-round. While they are in line, Laura sees Bandit, and chases after him, so Carrie can't pay for her ride when she gets to the front of the line. So, they try again, but the balloon starts to lift off, so Laura wants to go watch it. Carrie again doesn't have money. She wonders off and sees a balloon basket and gets in and lies down. Patrick, jealous of the time Cass is spending with Mary cuts the balloon loose, not realizing that Carrie is sleeping inside.
Adam & Luke Simms move to Walnut Grove. Luke falls in love with Nellie. Nellie likes him but he doesn't like to wear shoes and he wears overalls without a shirt over his long underwear, so Harriet thinks he is beneath her and demands that Nellie stop seeing them. Luke gets Mary to help him pick out a ring for Nellie's birthday and Nellie thinks Luke was playing with her affections. Nellie cries to Miss Beadle and Miss Beadle goes to Mr. Simms to tell him that she won't have that kind of treatment in her school. Mr. Simms explains the situation and Miss Beadle starts to fall in love with Adam Simms. Luke and Nellie decide that they are going to elope. They get married and go to the hotel. That is where Harriet, Nels, Adam, and Ms. Beadle find them. They take them back to the Justice of the Peace and have him un-marry Luke and Nellie, but while they are there, Adam Simms and Eva Beadle get married.
An Indian chief needs help from a white man's doctor and the closest town is Walnut Grove. Most of the townspeople want to massacre the Indians because of what other Indians had done to them in the past. Charles and Dr. Baker take the chief, his adult son (acting chief) and his son's two children to Ingalls' house to stay until the chief is well enough to travel. Unfortunately, some of the townspeople find out that the chief is there and they want to come kill him, so Charles transports them to safety.
Charles Ingalls and Jonathan Garvey are trying to win a contract for a freight operation. So, it means they will be making good money but they will be on the road for usually two weeks at a time, and usually with only an overnight layover. Caroline feels that this new job is her rival. Jimmy Hill is Laura's friend. They go fishing together and Laura almost falls in the creek, and Jimmy catches her, and for the first time, we see Laura liking a boy because she is a girl. The next day, Laura decides to wear her hair down because it makes her look more grown up and she wears her Sunday pinafore over her school dress and her Sunday hair ribbons. Of course, this means she can't play games at recess. Samantha Higgins is a new girl at school and since she is wearing overalls, has her hair braided and is considered tomboyish, Jimmy Hill invites her to play ball with them. Laura considers her a rival.
On Rev. Alden's recommendation, Mary is hired as a teacher in a small backwoods community called Willow Run. There, she is met with pure hatred from its town leader, Miss Peel, an elderly woman who is fiercely opposed to the school. Miss Peel's determination to drive Mary from town proves to be a severe test to the Ingalls girl's resolve and character.
Traveling Charles Ingalls struggles with a broken wagon wheel and bad weather trying to get home in time to celebrate his wedding anniversary while, back in Plum Creek, waiting wife Caroline tries to keep worry at bay by entertaining their daughters with the tale of another time she was kept waiting and how she and their father first met.
After finding a number of bottles containing messages, including a photograph, from a mysterious girl, Laura finds an abandoned baby. Laura takes the child in and cares for it like it was her own, not knowing it belongs to a timid young woman with an abusive father.
In this episode, Charles receives word of an inheritance from an eccentric uncle. Soon, the whole town is abuzz, eagerly helping the initially reluctant Ingalls family spend the promised money. As the debt rises, so does Charles' discomfiture...until the consequences of the blessing make it feel more like a curse.
Long hours studying by candlelight for the state teacher's exam results in tired, blurry eyes for Mary Ingalls, prompting a routine visit to the eye doctor; but when Charles is told that Mary's worsening sight is just the beginning of a much more serious problem, the concerned father can't bring himself to tell his beloved daughter that she will, most certainly, soon be completely blind.
Feeling lost and abandoned, Mary Ingalls battles anger and self-pity at a school for the blind, far away from the little house by Plum Creek. But soon, Mary finds a source of hope in her new teacher, Adam Kendall, and as the two young people work together they find they have much in common. Meanwhile, back in Walnut Grove, many are forced to consider the real possibility of having to start a new life elsewhere as the town's economy erodes and work becomes scarce.
Poor financial conditions influence the Ingalls family to move to Winoka when Mary goes there to teach at the Blind School. They meet Albert, an orphan who Charles forms an attachment to, even though Laura catches him stealing from the hotel that Charles was managing and Caroline was running the kitchen/dining room for.
While Mary is going to teach at the Blind School in Winoka, and since financially they can't make a living in Walnut Grove the rest of the Ingalls family goes to Winoka, too. Charles gets a job managing a hotel and Caroline runs the Kitchen/Dining room. They make the acquaintance of an orphan, Albert who befriends the Ingalls.
Trying to convince Tom Carlin, blinded by a childhood bout with the measles, that he can lead a productive life, Adam Kendall battles Tom's bitter, skeptical father and is unexpectedly aided by the underdog Winoka Warriors, who have just lost their star player to a rival football team.
Amelia Bevins is a new girl at school. Laura asks her to go home with her the afternoon of her first day at school to work on their essays and they go by the Blind School on the way home. When they get there, Laura and Albert and Andy start making fun of the over-weight man who has started working there. Amelia makes an excuse and runs off. Unbeknownst to them, it's her father. Before they leave, Adam comes out and introduces Mr. Bevins and Laura realizes her mistake. That evening when Mr. Bevins goes home, he overhears his daughter telling his wife how her father embarrasses her because of his weight. He makes up a job on the railroad that will give him a lot of more money and convinces the people at the blind school that he has no family in town but could save the money he's been spending on the room if they'll let him stay in his storage room. They notice that he only works outside on the roof late at night and he works inside all day, but he says it's cooler that way. When he accidentally falls through the roof and gets hurt, the doctor tells Adam that he could have surgery and get better but that Mr. Bevins has given up the will to live.
Caroline talks to Mary and Mary convinces Charles that he should not have to stay in Winoka if he is unhappy. So, the Ingalls decide they are going back to Walnut Grove. They invite Albert to go back with them. The children at the blind school give them a horseshoe to hang over their door and sing them home with the song about a horseshoe over the door. The Garveys and the Olsens go home, too.
The Ingalls, Garveys, Olsens, and Albert get back to Walnut Grove to find it run down and in shabby condition. Lars Hansen found Walnut Grove over 50 years ago, and now that it is in this poor condition, and he suffered a stroke, he is much like the town--on its last leg. The Ingalls and the Garveys go to the farms around town to let everyone know of their plans to fix the town up to restore it to its former glory.
Laura Ingalls becomes jealous of the extra attention her father pays to new family member, Albert, especially after the boy is given a new calf to raise for the county fair, and asked to call Charles "Pa".
Sterling Murdoch arrives in Walnut Grove planning to found a newspaper. The fledgling newspaper is The Pen and the Plow, and its star reporter is none other than one Harriet Olesen. At first, everyone including the Ingalls welcome the newspaper, but the completely inaccurate content of the "Harriet's Happenings" column soon has some people losing their enthusiasm. Nels reminds his wife that a reporter's job is to be accurate, but Mrs. Olesen suggests she's merely "reporting the fact that they are rumors"; he is even more frustrated when she suggests holding an unethical sale at the store. Later, Nellie loses a spot in the county's spelling bee to Erich Schiller, the son of German immigrants and outstanding student in his class. Mrs. Olesen is outraged and in her next column, writes a story suggesting that Erich's parents are illiterate. Erich is deeply upset by the story and it causes him to perform badly at the county spelling bee; he even drops out of school. With some help from Charles, Mr. Schiller tells Erich that he is proud of his son and has a great future ahead of him; this is enough to get him to come back to school. Charles is unable to make headway with Murdoch about his newspaper, since Murdoch reasons that people like reading their names in print and it means more advertising and money. Laura and Albert get some revenge when they switch the printing plates and publish some unflattering stories about Nellie and Mrs. Olesen, and an ad that suggests a 100 percent-off sale at the Mercantile. When Caroline refuses to punish Laura and Albert over their trick, Mrs. Olesen responds by publishing a story stating that Charles fathered Albert outside his marriage (along with another item that suggests that the Garveys are heavily in debt). An angry Charles has enough and, at church on Sunday, exposes "The Pen and the Plow" as yellow journalism, and that everyone else shares in the blame for reading the paper even though they knew the stories were clearly untrue. It isn't long before the newspaper is forced to stop publishing and Murdoch is driven from town. In the close, Laura tells how she hoped that someday, Walnut Grove would get a legitimate newspaper.
While their fathers secretly trail them, young Albert Ingalls and Andy Garvey set off to prove their mettle as men by accepting a challenge to live by their wits during a week-long, overland walk from Walnut Grove to Sleepy Eye and back.
Andy is doing poorly in school to the embarrassment of his mother who is the current teacher. Mrs. Garvey hires Nellie Olesen to tutor Andy. Nellie shows Andy how she has been cheating and threatens him to do the same and not tell.
Mr. Standish buys the building that the Blind school has been housed in and wants to turn it into a hotel. He gives the blind school 30 days to move. Adam and Mary send a letter to Charles telling them to alert them if they hear of an available place. Rev. Alden tells Charles that when he died, Lars Hansen left the deed to a big house in his care. It's too big to sell to one family so he hasn't been able to unload it, but it's perfectly big enough for a blind school. The church votes to clean it up and get it ready for the blind school to take it over. The Winoka school is joining with another school run by Mrs. Hester Sue Terhune. When she finds out that a Mrs. Terhune is coming with the Winoka blind school, mistaking her for another lady she once knew by the name of Terhune, Harriet makes the decision to join the blind school on their journey back to Walnut Grove. She also decides to buy herself a new bedroom suit and donates her old (perfectly good one) to Mrs. Terhune's bedroom at the blind school.
Joe Kagen joins Charles and goes to Winoka because they're going to have an extra wagon to bring home. They get to the blind school and see the awful team of horses and the wagon that Mr. Standish tricked Adam into buying even though his contract clearly stated that he would have the best team in the stable. Charles takes the horses into the saloon and convinces Mr. Standish that those aren't his best team and wagon. Then, Charles is surprised in Winoka to find out that Harriet has joined them for the trip home. On the trip, Harriet says she prefers to walk instead of riding on the wagon with Joe. They go about a day and a half before meeting with the train on which Mrs. Terhune's school is meeting them. She is a black lady and has about 6-8 black blind children with her. Harriet is shocked that she is not the lady she thought she was. She acts rather stand-offish around the black children, and one little boy in particular can read her behavior. He talks to Joe Kagen about her behavior and Joe, not knowing that Harriet is listening tells the boy that some people think that just because their skin is a different color they are different. Harriet is offended and later rides with this boy and Joe on the wagon.
Charles has the opportunity to earn $50 by helping run new telephone lines for 30 days. While he's away, Laura and Albert's time is used up with doing extra chores. Caroline is also busy and doesn't have time to deal with Carrie, so she is sent off on her own with some trivial job to do. She goes to pick some strawberries, but when she sees how little they are, she figures it will take her all day to pick enough for a pie. She falls asleep and dreams that a beautiful girl who looks just like her, named Elissa, takes her to a world where there are strawberries as big as she is along with other fruits. But, then she is awakened because she dreams there is a huge angry bug chasing her on that fruit. She goes home. The next day, she is sent to go fishing and Elissa takes her to Heaven to see their old dog Jack. The next day she has decided to use her Christmas penny to buy some licorice to share with Pa who should be coming home soon, but she drops the penny in the field, so she dreams that Elissa makes it big enough for her to sleep on so she can find it easily. She wakes up with it in her hand. Carrie has trouble deciding if Elissa is just her fairy tale friend or if she is real.
Albert becomes an apprentice for a craftsman who is Jewish. His classmates accuse him of being a Jew-lover and Laura is embarrassed because they accuse her when she tells them to quit picking on Albert. Albert learns to take pride in his work and when Mr. Isaac Singerman dies at the end of the summer, Albert follows his way of planting an acorn to grow a tree to repay the earth for the one he used in his carpentry.
Laura Ingalls is horrified to witness the fall from a tree that blinds her friend, Jordan Harrison, while he's performing a circus stunt. But when she finds out that Jordan's sight has returned, Laura must decide whether it's right when he asks her to keep it a secret, especially after Jordan tells her that his parents' concern for him appears to have brought them back from the brink of divorce.
Charles and Jonathan are picking up a freight delivery for Mr. Olesen when they bump into Toby Noe, an old friend from Winoka. Charles convinces him to come visit them in Walnut Grove. Toby comes to visit. He goes to church with the Ingalls the next day and when he's greeting people at the door, Rev. Alden tells Charles they need to have a meeting to find someone who can play their new organ instead of Harriet. Toby can play, so he agrees to play that very morning. Unfortunately, he's a spirited player and Miss Amanda Cooper fusses at Rev. Alden for that 'un-church-like' music. Toby finds her spirited and it's love at first sight. He tries everything to make her like him. At the same time, Laura is trying with Albert's help to get Jason, a boy at school, to like her. Unfortunately, Laura and Toby both go to the annual barn dance alone, but they both end up with the partner they want.
Adam Kendall is more than a little surprised when wife Mary's letter to his estranged father announcing her pregnancy brings the man to Walnut Grove. But it soon appears that the anticipation of a sighted grandson and not a change of heart towards his blind son may be the reason for the elder Kendall's visit.
Kezia doesn't believe in paying property taxes, and it isn't long before Mrs. Oleson decides to foreclose on the property and purchase it for herself as the family's vacation home. Nels objects to the purchase, knowing she had acquired it unfairly and that Kezia would have no place to go, but Mrs. Oleson responds by moving herself and Nellie and Willie to the lakeside property. Mrs. Oleson, in a show of pity, hires Kezia to be their servant and forces her to live in the shack. Laura, Albert and Andy watch from afar and are disgusted at how cruelly the three Olesons are treating their friend Kezia, and also aware that Mrs. Oleson used underhanded means to buy the property. One night, after hearing Caroline read a story about monsters, Albert comes up with an idea to concoct a monster to drive the Olesons off the property. Working with Kezia, the children set their plans in motion, but Mrs. Oleson, Nellie and Willie are too smart for any tricks and harden their resolve to stay on "their" property. Eventually, Laura, Andy and Albert bring out the heavy artillery: creating a Loch Ness monster out of paper maché. When they hatch their plans, Mrs. Oleson and her children are convinced that the (non-existant) monster poses a real threat to their safety and they beat it. Nels celebrates the success of Laura's plan with Kezia and the others, and it isn't long before Kezia's ownership in her property is restored ... with the promise she will pay her property taxes, no matter what she thinks.
Jonathan loses his cool at Judd Larrabee for not keeping his word about not changing their prices when someone comes along to buy grain from them. Later Larrabee goes to Jonathan's to get back but finds his son, Andy and attacks him. Andy goes to his father and they go back home and they find their barn on fire. They think Larrabee did it so they go and arrest him. He's brought to trial. Larrabee claims what happened to Andy was an accident and that he didn't burn the barn.
Hoping for a miracle, Charles takes Mary to a specialist in Mankato to find out if the light she has been seeing means that her sight may be returning, while husband Adam worries that she won't need him anymore, and an excited Laura enlists Albert's help to fix up an abandoned cabin to serve as the Kendalls' new home.
While out of town to buy horses, Charles Ingalls boards with Brett Harper, a man who is emotionally withdrawn from his unhappy family and trying to lose himself in work and whiskey, blaming himself for the accidental death of his oldest son in a riding accident four years earlier.
Talented young painter Dylan Whitaker promised his dying father that he would some day see the ocean he loves to put on canvas; but "some day" comes too soon when Dylan is diagnosed with incurable leukemia and, to keep his promise, he and his concerned friends, Laura and Albert, sneak away from Walnut Grove to hop a railroad freight car bound for the California coast.
The sixth-season begins with several new stories. First, there's the arrival of new teacher Eliza Jane Wilder and her handsome brother, Almanzo. Rivals Laura and Nellie have their eye on the 25-year-old New York native, and are determined to do anything to snare him. Mrs. Oleson, meanwhile, gives recent Walnut School graduate Nellie her own business: A hotel and restaurant in her name!
A school project on genealogy leads Albert to confront his dark past. As the Ingalls help Albert with the project, Charles and Caroline decide to adopt the young lad. Then, Albert's biological father Mr. Quinn shows up.
During a trip to a teaching awards ceremony in Minneapolis, the stagecoach that Adam, Mary and a pregnant woman named Marge are riding in is involved in a rollover accident. Mary is the only one who is able to free herself and is left to rely on her own wits to find help. Meanwhile, Laura and Albert give Nellie and Mrs. Oleson quite a buzz when the Ingalls' youths offer a hive of bees to their honey- and money-hungry rivals ... not telling them they are really hornets!
Nels becomes apprehensive when he learns that a traveling circus - in which his estranged sister, an obese woman named Annabelle, is one of the stars - is coming to Walnut Grove. Nels eventually realizes he needs to deal with his insecurities and make amends with Annabelle when he is asked to be the ringmaster.
Rev. Alden creates a stir in Walnut Grove when he falls in love with elderly parishioner Anna Craig. Mrs. Oleson objects to the relationship and gives the good preacher a choice: Either call off the impending marriage or get fired!
When Isaiah Edwards loses his will to live after a crippling logging accident, a letter to Walnut Grove from his worried wife, Grace, brings Charles and Laura back to the big woods to try to help their old friend.
Aging professional wrestler Milo Stavroupolis comes to nearby Mankato to "fight" the locals. Stavroupolis' promoter, the shrewd Jimmy Hart, convinces Jonathan Garvey to fight the old man ... unaware that the fight was "fixed." But there's even more heartbreak ahead, as Stavroupolis is suffering emotionally (and physically) after years of fighting; his beloved wife, Anna (herself desperately ill) has begged him to retire. The old man is convinced by Jonathan to substitute for him in the upcoming championship
On Mrs. Oleson's invitation, the Rev. James Danforth comes to Walnut Grove to give residents his charismatic, fiery style of preaching. The hypnotic Danforth claims to have actually "witnessed" the Word of the Lord and can perform great miracles as a faith healer. He demonstrates his abilities during one of his revivals, restoring sight to a blind person and giving a crippled person the ability to walk. The people are awestruck and soon flock to his services. Rev. Alden, Dr. Baker and Charles have all seen Danforth at work and reject his ministry; in the aftermath, attendance at Rev. Alden's Sunday services declines sharply, while Dr. Baker's practice also suffers. Later, a farmer's son complains of abdominal pain and places complete trust in Danforth to have it healed. Dr. Baker is nearby and urges the farmer to have surgery instead, but Danforth seems to heal the boy. But later that night, the boy's appendix bursts (just as Dr. Baker feared was about to happen) and he dies; the farmer is forced to admit that God "chose" his son to come home. Meanwhile, Charles is on a delivery run to Sleepy Eye and learns that Danforth is holding a revival there. He confirms his initial suspicions that Danforth is a charlatan and - working with the farmer, the Olesons and Dr. Baker - hatches a plan to expose Danforth as a liar. It isn't long before Walnut Grove residents return to their old congregation and all is forgiven.
During a trip to Walnut Grove, Caroline's mother passes away. Her father is very grief-stricken, until son-in-law Charles - impressed with his stories about growing up in the Little House in the Big Woods - suggests he publish an autobiography.
When the telephone comes to Walnut Grove, Mrs. Olesen is hired as the switchboard operator. The telephone company is unaware that Mrs. Olesen loves to gossip, and her new job will simply be another means to spread rumors about Walnut Grove's residents. One of the subscribers to the new Walnut Grove exchange is the Garveys. Alice places a call to her mother, in which she learns that her first husband (a hard-drinking, gambling outlaw named Harold) has just been released from prison for robbery. Alice - who has kept this fact from Jonathan - thinks this is a private conversation, but is unaware that Mrs. Olesen is listening in. Word quickly gets back to Jonathan Garvey, who demands an apology from Mrs. Olesen (she refuses, but an embarrassed Nels does before he reprimands his wife). Jonathan then goes home and gets an explanation from Alice; she didn't tell him about her first marriage because it was a mistake and thought it didn't matter, but Jonathan is angered even more because of this revelation. In the aftermath, Jonathan and Alice stop speaking to each other and Andrew becomes very upset. Jonathan decides to go on a delivery run with Charles to sort things out. After teaching Nellie a separate lesson about eavesdropping, Laura and Albert decide to teach Mrs. Olesen a real lesson about her behavior by working with town banker Bill Anderson to set up a phony stock tip. Mrs. Olesen acts on the tip and loses her share of the family's savings as a result; Nels refuses to sympathize with his wife, effectively telling her she has learned her lesson. Meanwhile, Charles and Jonathan stay with Alice's mother in Minneapolis and learn the whole story about Harold. They later meet up with Harold, who is working in a tavern and very disheveled after his (18) years in prison. Jonathan (who never tells Harold who he is) learns from Harold that Alice was the best thing he ever had but let her slip through his fingers through his wild, foolish living, and that the man who married Alice should consider himself very lucky. Jonathan realizes he needs to go home and make up with Alice ... and get rid of that darned ol' telephone.
A 17-year-old budding criminal named Tod Dortmunder is sent to Walnut Grove to live with his grandparents after his mother loses patience with his ill-tempered behavior. His behavior becomes more violent, and when he is caught stealing Charles' watch, the grandparents (in part because they fear for their safety) turn to Charles for help. Charles proves to be the role model Tod never had, and efforts to rehabilitate the lad seem to be working. But even Charles is unaware of some dark secrets from Tod's childhood that don't surface until he destroys the present he gave him.
School bully Bart begins menacing his classmates, especially Albert. Tired of the constant harassment, Albert creates a paper maché werewolf mask to terrorize Bart into ceasing his bullying behavior. It works, until Carrie opens her mouth! It takes a joint effort by all of Bart's classmates to make him stop bullying.
During a visit to a farmer's convention in Milwaukee, Charles and Caroline meet up with old school mates. Charles learns that larger farmers are trying to put his small farming friends out of business and urges them to stand up for their profession. Meanwhile, Caroline becomes envious about the financial fortunes of their one-time friends, but she soon learns there's more to their success stories than meets the eyes.
On a dark and stormy night, Laura and Mary are staying alone at the School For the Blind when they are taken hostage by a trio of escaped convicts. One of the criminals is badly injured, and his cohorts demand to see a doctor. Laura is sent to get Dr. Baker, warned that the consequences will be deadly if she tries any tricks. However, a terrified Laura tells her Pa what is happening. Charles shows up posing as Dr. Baker, but when the real Dr. Baker arrives, Charles is forced to be resourceful to disarm the crooks.
Laura takes a job tutoring a deaf boy named Daniel, teaching him how to communicate through sign language. Daniel makes more than an academic breakthrough - he develops a huge crush on Laura! Laura doesn't know quite what to do, and makes some mistakes along the way in dealing with her situation.
Albert experiments with smoking in the basement of the School For the Blind and, when shooed out of the basement, hides the still-lit pipe in some cloths. The pipes ignite and result in a late-night fire that kills Alice Garvey and Mary's baby son. As a result, several people struggle with the consequences: Albert becomes completely withdrawn when he learns his careless actions may have caused the fire, Mary in deep shock and Jonathan Garvey in an alcohol-induced state of denial.
Albert, Mary and Jonathan - all deeply impacted by the fire at the School For the Blind - continue to deal with their emotions. Charles helps Jonathan realize that his alcoholism has taken a toll on his son, Andy, while Mary snaps out of her shock when she hears the melody of the music box Albert had purchased for her as a gift. But Mary's initial panic soon becomes Albert's when he finally understands his carelessness caused the fire that killed her baby and best friend's mother. Albert runs away, leading Charles and a reformed Jonathan to frantically search for the lad.
Almanzo's indolent brother, Perley, comes to town. Knowing that Almanzo's interest in a much younger Laura has deepened, Charles is convinced that Perley is the better man for his "Half Pint." However, those sentiments quickly change when Perley injures one of Almanzo's horses. Two things become clear to Charles: Perley is a troublemaker, and Almanzo is a responsible young man (especially when he nurses the horse back to health).
Nels finally loses patience with his henpecked family life and begins a mobile merchant business. During one of his stops, he meets a much younger woman whom is the exact opposite of his own wife. In the process, Nels struggles with temptation and going astray as the relationship blossoms.
On Eliza Jane's recommendation, Laura gets her first teaching job out of town. Almanzo offers to drive her to and from the school, and their relationship continues to blossom. But a hitch is thrown into the whole thing when he sees one of Laura's students touching her in a seemingly romantic fashion, causing a misunderstanding that could jeopardize their relationship.
The romantic futures of longtime rivals Laura and Nellie take shape in the sixth season finale. First, Almanzo proposes to Laura, but Charles says that the marriage is on hold until Laura's 18th birthday. When Laura decides to honor her father's request, Almanzo feels that Laura is perhaps not mature enough to make a commitment and leaves town. Meanwhile, the Olesons ponder closing Nellie's Restaurant but decide to give it one last chance when they hire Percival Dalton, the man who will turn Nellie's rude, snotty demeanor and poor work ethic around 180 degrees. Meanwhile, Adam learns that his father has died and that a hoped-for inheritance - which he hoped to use to build a new School for the Blind - never materialized.
Almonzo buys land for he and Laura to begin their life together on, but Laura is upset over his refusal to allow her to teach after they are married. Meanwhile Miss Wilder falls for a friend of Almonzo's.
Eliza Jane fibs and says that she is getting married to Harve Miller who had come to help Almanzo take care of their property while Almanzo was working on the new land. She says this so that Laura will take over the Walnut Grove school and she won't have to go away to teach. Since she is leaving, that leaves the house for Almanzo and Laura. They decide to get married on Adam and Mary's anniversary so that the men can help each other remember when it is! When Charles goes to get the priest he sees Harve Miller in town and asks if he wants to surprise Eliza Jane and have a double wedding, but Harve tells him that he got married to someone last Sunday and Eliza Jane knew it. Charles doesn't spoil the news.
Two young brothers, deserted by their parents and desperately trying to stay together, run away from the Sleepy Eye orphanage on the eve of an adoption that will separate them, and find an unlikely ally in grumpy old handyman, Houston Lamb.
A girl who likes Almanzo but whom Almanzo doesn't like back is back in town. She wrote a song that she got published and she told Almanzo the title "My Only Love". Almanzo wrote the title down and the name of the girl. Laura saw it and thought he was cheating on her and they have many misunderstandings. Charles is trying to install a picture window. He buys three of them because Laura keeps breaking them when she slams the door at the "little house" when she goes home because she doesn't even want to sleep at the same house, and then the next time when she climbs on top of it in the back of the wagon, and the next time when she drives her buggy too fast and Charles drops the window in the bushes.
Caroline Ingalls joins in protest with the rest of the Walnut Grove women to try to convince Charles and the other men to sign a petition addressing the injustice of a law that transfers a woman's property rights to her husband after marriage.
Royal Wilder thinks of a perfect solution when he needs a break from dastardly duo Myron and Rupert, his spoiled, undisciplined sons...send the terrible two to Walnut Grove for a visit with unsuspecting Uncle Almanzo and Aunt Laura!
New student Sylvia Webb, who has physically matured faster than most of her classmates, piques the physical curiosity of some of her male classmates. Albert goes along at first, but quickly becomes friends with Sylvia. However, he is unaware that she is trapped in a horrifying world: She's being stalked (and is eventually attacked by) a masked rapist; her father has a cold, uncaring attitude toward Sylvia's ordeal; and her cruel classmates continue to taunt her. Eventually, Sylvia collapses at school from exhaustion.
Mrs. Olson spreads word that Albert had gotten Sylvia pregnant. Caroline knows this isn't true and confronts her nemesis over this misinformation. Mr. Webb decides that, because of the shame his daughter's ordeal brought him, they will move from Walnut Grove. Sylvia decides she'd be happier with Albert, and the two decide to get married. When Mr. Webb finds out Albert had visited her (despite a no-guests rule), he calls Sylvia a whore, and she runs away. Albert - who had gotten a job as at the blacksmith's shop - later helps search for Sylvia, but lets it slip as to her whereabouts to the blacksmith. It all leads to one final confrontation.
Pregnancy symptoms hit both Laura and her mother Caroline. Caroline, after bearing four daughters, really wants a son. But when it turns out Caroline is not pregnant at all, but is beginning menopause, she sinks into a deep depression. Her husband and daughters desperately try to convince her that they love her for the person she is, not for the person she wanted to be. Finally, Charles proposes that he and Caroline renew their wedding vows.
Several weeks earlier, Percy and Nellie traveled to New York (with their infant twins, Benny and Jenny) to help run the family's store and hotel after Percy's father, Mr. Cohen, falls gravely ill; the elder Mr. Cohen soon dies. Nellie - who is never seen on-camera - writes to her parents and tells them that their stay in New York will now be permanent to carry on the family business. This news saddens Nels, but Mrs. Olesen's life virtually comes to a complete stop. She is deeply depressed, refuses to eat and cannot sleep; there are times when she'd rather be dead. Nels and Dr. Baker are very concerned and decide to talk Mrs. Olesen into adopting a 9- or 10-year-old girl. At first, Mrs. Olesen flatly objects, but changes her mind after Cassandra visits with her. The Olesens travel to the orphanage in Sleepy Eye to visit with the young girls; Nels considers one of the well-mannered girls, but Mrs. Olesen rejects them all since none of them are like Nellie. Nels tries to reason with his wife; just when he gives up hope, there is a loud crash and a scuffle involving one of the girls. Mrs. Olesen's spirits immediately perk up, and it isn't long before they find out who this girl is - Nancy, a bratty troublemaker who is exactly the girl Mrs. Olesen is after. Nels tries to get his wife to reconsider, but upon learning that Nancy will soon be taken to a home for behavior-problem children, he feels obliged to adopt the girl for everyone's sake. Willie objects when he meets his new sister, since it will ruin his chance at a normal childhood. As one might expect, Nancy immediately asserts herself as the town's new troublemaker, getting into a first-day-of-school fight with Cassandra and stealing Willie's homework. After the latter incident, Nels wants to reprimand Nancy but Mrs. Olesen interferes. Other stories in the episode involve Adam and Mary planning to move to New York to take over his father's law practice (since meaningful work can't be found in Walnut Grove); and Hester Sue coming to work at Nellie's Restaurant and Hotel (after the state closes the School for the Blind).
Nels goes to the ice house to get supplies and finds an unconscious (and frozen) Belinda inside. Belinda, as it turns out, will be just fine, but Nels decides to get some answers. Nancy claims she saw Willie close the door to the ice house (which he affirms), but she says nothing more about why; only the audience knows it was part of a diabolical plan to kill off her school rival and obtain the leading role in the school talent show. Later, Charles is visiting Sleepy Eye and visits with the orphanage director. In casual conversation, Charles learns that Nancy's mother had died due to childbirth complications, and that her behavior was growing increasingly worse; had the Olesens not adopted her, she would have been moved to a home for behavior-problem children. Charles shares his findings with Laura, who is left speechless. They then deduce that Nancy was behind the plan to lock Belinda in the ice house and Willie was left to play an unwitting role. Laura concludes that one-time rival Nellie had done some bad things during her wilder days, but even Nellie had morals and limits; Nancy's behavior, on the other hand, has no bounds and that what she has done has already far outdone Nellie. Even Mrs. Olesen is outraged at being lied to about her background. Laura then meets with Nancy's classmates and they conspire to teach Nancy a lesson once and for all. They decide to make Nancy the show queen! Well, that's all they tell her ... at first. On the day of the show, Nancy is dressed as a mermaid and thinks she's going to be the darling of the show. That is, until she sees she's sitting just above a water tank; she's been made queen of the dunk tank! After Belinda gets her revenge, Mrs. Olesen wants her turn ... and dunks Nancy! Mrs. Olesen then tells her daughter that she has people who love her and care for her, and she doesn't have to lie to get that sort of attention.
James begins feeling insecure about his place in the Ingalls family, and tries a little too hard to emulate the older Albert. When he is caught with a shaving blade stolen from the Mercantile, James runs away, leaving Albert to go find him and convince his adopted brother to come back home.
Dr. Baker is enthusiastic about his new assistant, a young university-trained physician named Caleb LeDoux ... until he realizes he is black. The Ingalls family are among the few to accept Dr. LeDoux, while others' reactions range from prejudice to outright racism. Even Dr. Baker has a tough time concealing his prejudice. Then, a pregnant white woman is suffering from complications and must rely on LeDoux to save her life, but the woman's racist husband refuses to cooperate and Charles must intervene. The surgery is a success and both woman and her baby son are fine; Dr. Baker is stunned and realizes he must deal with his own prejudice ... by going all out to convince Dr. LeDoux to stay when he threatens to leave the community.
Aging circus daredevil Gambini the Great has a hypnotic effect on the children of Walnut Grove, especially Albert and Willie. A tragedy during one of Gambini's stunts will provide a chilling lesson in hero worship.
A pair of bumbling crooks kidnaps Nels and holds him for ransom. However, Mrs. Olesen refuses to pay the $100 fee required to free her husband, so Nels decides to work with the crooks to get his revenge. In the process, nearly everyone in Walnut Grove finds themselves on the wrong side of the criminals.
Charles travels to Chicago to comfort his grief-stricken friend, Mr. Edwards, after young newspaper reporter John Jr. dies in what seems to be a tragic street car accident. When John's boss reveals that he was about to publish a story about business corruption, Charles and Mr. Edwards become suspicious and soon realize that John Jr. was marked for murder. With the help of the newspaper publisher, they track down who may have wanted to silence John Jr.
A young, overweight boy named Elmer Miles is mercilessly teased at school. However, Nancy - of all people - goes easy on him because she actually seems to like him. Of course, she has plenty of ulterior motives up her sleeve once she gains Elmer's trust.
Mrs. Oleson decides that reopening Nellie's Restaurant and Hotel as a franchised restaurant will result in big business for the fledgling business. Does she have what it takes to meet the demands of a tough franchiser, and can she fight off unexpected competition from Charles and Nels when they open up their own restaurant?
Gideon Hale is a 9-year-old boy with a speech impediment; he stutters. Everyone at Walnut Grove School tease the boy, except for James. James decides to take Gideon under his wing and become his long-sought-after friend. However, when Gideon's back is turned, James (albeit reluctantly) goes along with the teasing. Unfortuately, James is unaware that Gideon is listening in. Gideon realizes that James is just like everyone else and, in tears, runs away. When their son fails to return home, Mr. and Mrs. Hale become very worried and enlist the Ingalls to help search for the boy. James realizes what he has done and is deeply sorry. Charles decides that, to get his mind off what he did, James should come along with him on a delivery run to Sleepy Eye. Along the way, a feral wolf tags behind the Ingalls wagon, staying with them at a camp. Later, in Sleepy Eye, two robbers overhear that Ingalls has thousands of dollars in his possession (payment from the delivery run) and plot to rob them that night at the hotel. However, the wolf - who has kept on the Ingalls trail - runs the two robbers off before they can break into Charles' hotel room; Charles and James are never aware of what might have happened. The wolf appears again later in their trip when a bear tries to attack Charles and James. Meanwhile, Caroline is able to track down Gideon and convinces him to come back home. In the end, James apologizes to Gideon; while Mr. and Mrs. Hale aren't ready to accept just yet, that crazy wolf who had kept on the Ingalls' trail all along appears again ... and makes quick friends with Gideon. Mr. Hale realizes that James is sincere in his apology and all is forgiven.
A pregnant Laura has a tough time caring for the Wilder farm when Almanzo and Charles are away on a delivery trip to Arizona; a drought and her duties at school doesn't help matters. Later, Laura has a heart-to-heart talk with Willie about responsibility and being a role model. Willie takes the discussion seriously, organizing the classmates to help manage the Wilder farm when Laura falls ill with heatstroke.
A present-day couple buy an antique, folding-leaf table with a large "I" branded on it and are curious to learn about its origins. The story focuses on Charles' efforts to patent the table and have it mass produced. However, a ruthless businessman is successful in a bid to steal the patent and snare an ill-gotten profit, forcing Charles to realize that his family, and not the tables, are his greatest legacy.
Hester Sue's ex-husband, Sam, arrives in Walnut Grove, stating that he is reformed from his days of drinking, gambling and wild living. Sam appears to be reformed and Hester Sue believes him enough to agree to re-marry him. Should Hester Sue turn the other cheek and forgive Sam, or is he psychologically controlling his former wife through a very clever series of lies to conceal his current lifestyle?
The marriage between Almanzo and Laura faces its first stern test when he falls seriously ill with diphtheria and later suffers a crippling stroke. Eliza Jane arrives to help care for her brother, but makes matters worse by babying him.
Almonzo's continued morose outlook on life during his recovery from a crippling stroke, not to mention Eliza Jane's pampering, takes its toll on the Wilder marriage. Not even the birth of the couple's daughter, Rose, seems to help matters. Then, a massive tornado destroys the Wilder home, and Laura is badly injured; she recovers, but goes into shock when she sees a pile of rubble instead of the slightly damaged home she thought was there. Laura becomes severely depressed, leading Almonzo to finally realize his outlook has rubbed off on his wife; he makes good on a promise to change his attitude 180 degrees and rebuild not only their home but what was a crumbling marriage. In the end, the Wilder marriage becomes stronger for the "Days of Sunshine, Days of Sorrow" they had just went through.
Mr. Edwards arrives back to Walnut Grove harboring some disturbing secrets, namely that his marriage was ruined because of his alcoholism. His inability to stay off the bottle nearly destroys his cherished friendship with Charles when he causes an accident that nearly kills Albert. Charles tells Mr. Edwards to leave Walnut Grove and not come back, leaving Almanzo and Laura as his last hope.
Caroline travels to an influenza-ridden mining camp with Dr. Baker after she receives a plea for help from an old friend who is pregnant and desperately ill. After realizing that her friend will die and that the baby's father never wanted children at all, Caroline agrees to uphold her friend's deathbed request to give her child a good home.
During a trip to Sleepy Eye, James and Albert walk into a bank robbery staged by a nefarious gang. James is critically wounded, and the doctor tells Charles that James is expected to die. A grief-hardened Charles enlists Mr. Edwards (and later, Albert, after he disobeys a direct order to stay in Sleepy Eye) to track down the men responsible.
James continues to linger in a coma, weeks after being shot during a bank robbery in Sleepy Eye. Charles refuses to believe his son is virtually dead and, as the weeks pass, becomes verbally abusive to his family and friends. Unable to deal with mounting pressure by the others to let James die in peace, Charles leaves home and takes his adopted son with him. In the woods, Charles builds an altar and prays to God for a miracle.
The Ingalls can't make ends meet so they move to the city to find work. The Carters buy the little house and Mr. Carter runs the blacksmith shop and Mrs. Carter starts a newspaper. (John and Sarah Carter - they have two sons, Jeb and Jason.) Laura has decided she wants to spend more time with Rose so the town has hired a new teacher, Etta Plum. Almanzo's brother, Royal has come to visit and brings with him, his daughter, Jenny.
Harriet finds some old Walnut Grove bonds under a loose step when they are fixing up Mr. Hansen's old house. She says she won't cash them in but only if they do her this little favor of renaming Walnut Grove Olesenville and that little favor of letting Nels be the Mayor.
Mr. Stark has gotten himself so far in debt that he has lost his mind. He goes home and shoots his wife and daughter. Then he goes off and ends up at Laura's house. He mistakes Laura and Jenny for his wife and daughter, but when he sees Rose, he thinks that his daughter has had a baby.
A dwarf man, Lou, from the circus tries to find work in Walnut Grove after his wife dies in childbirth. He can't get a job because Harriet doesn't like the fact that he's little and from the circus and even threatens to close her bank account if the banker hires him. So, he steals food and a doll from the mercantile instead. So, Harriet presses charges and a judge is on the way, but while they wait on the judge, Nancy falls in a sewer hole and Lou is the only person small enough to help pull her out, so all is forgiven.
Nellie comes home for a visit and discovers that Nancy is more of a spoiled brat than she ever was. Nancy doesn't want to have anything to do with Nellie and snubs her every chance she gets. Laura and Nellie act like they are best friends. Everyone is paying attention to Nellie because it's her birthday and they haven't seen her in a while and so Nancy is feeling left out. She decides to run away. Nels and Nellie go to look for her, and they find her and it seems she has changed. When Nellie leaves,they find out that Nancy hasn't changed.
Sarah Carter's mother died so her father comes for a visit. He's a wealthy newspaper man from the big city and wants the Carters to come back and live with him. He "buys" the boys' affection with nice things. He helps Sarah out in her office by helping her with her layout, but it's not the way she wants it and she is happy with her life there and so her father leaves.
The Younger brothers haven't been out of prison very long, when they decide to hold up Mr. Edwards for some ransom. They decide to turn themselves in so they can get the reward money but they don't have all their marbles.
Laura needs something to fill some time so Almanzo tells her about a book writing contest. He convinces her to write her stories down that she told him about growing up. She travels to Minneapolis to work with a publisher but they want to make too many changes to book.
Albert has fallen in with the wrong crowd so Charles quits his job and takes him home to Walnut Grove. Unfortunately, part of Albert's problem is that he has gotten addicted to morphine and he steals some from Doc Baker so the problems persist.
Doc Baker realizes that something is wrong with the morphine in his pouches and he tells Nels that the company is very responsible and loyal and so something had to happen to it when it came here to Walnut Grove. He says no one messed with in the store and he had Albert drop it off for him. Doc Baker realizes that Albert must have switched the morphine for powdered sugar. He tells Charles to watch for symptoms of addiction. Charles finds the morphine in Albert's shoes and gives it back to Doc Baker. When Albert goes looking for it, Charles confronts him but Albert says he only did it once and he's sorry and it won't happen again. He lied and he has to go through a major major withdrawal to get off the morphine. Some of this episode is quite graphic where he vomiting up tons of grossness during the withdrawal.
Laura and Almanzo welcome their second child, a baby boy. They are undecided as far as names go, and Doc Baker examines the child to make sure he's in the best of health. But one fateful morning, the Wilders awaken to find their new baby deceased. Right away, a dumbfounded Laura places blame squarely on Doc Baker, whose business starts to wane and he considers leaving Walnut Grove. But, when Rose suddenly comes down with small pox, the good doctor is their only hope.
Jason Carter wants a job so he can buy his mother a birthday present. He starts working for Ruthy Leland. They become close friends. His mother thinks she is being too nice, but since Ruthy is dying from a sickness and won't be around for too long, she doesn't have any reason not to give this stuff away.
When Willie announces his plans to marry sweetheart Rachel Brown and manage the hotel-restaurant bearing his sister's name, Mrs. Oleson tries to interfere. But Willie impresses his wife-to-be - and his father - when he stands his ground to his meddlesome mother once and for all.
The father of Matthew Rogers, the mute boy Mr. Edwards has been caring for, arrives to reclaim his son. A heartbroken Edwards moves in to Laura's new boarding house, where newlyweds Willie and Rachel Oleson, and eccentric Englishman Sherwood Montague have also taken up residence.