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, ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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. ...