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Who Was Mr. Edwards?

Mr. Edwards is often a favorite character in the Little House books. But who was he? Wilder experts had theories, but until recently, no one spent the time needed to really learn the truth about Mr. Edwards. In my book The Laura Ingalls Wilder Companion: A Chapter-by-Chapter Guide, I wanted to tell the truth about Mr. Edwards. Even my own (limited) research left open questions; it was a research project that needed to wait for Robynne Elizabeth Miller and J.D. Rushmore.
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When I first heard about Tennessee Wildcat: On the Trail of Laura Ingalls Wilder's Mr. Edwards, I was thrilled. I already knew of many of Robynne Elizabeth Miller's books related to Laura Ingalls Wilder and appreciated her research, reflection, and writing. With this newest book, Miller partnered with J.D. Rushmore. And I love the result! 

Miller and Rushmore take the time to showcase the theories behind Mr. Edwards, the comprehensive research, and the conclusion they came to. Along the way we meet all the possibilities. Fascinating!

Here's a quote from the introduction.
In the interest of coming at this investigation in as unbiased a manner as possible, however, we couldn't take any option off the table. Until some hard evidence proved otherwise, and to be open to whatever truth might be uncovered, our own suspicions had to be ignored. So, our beginning premise included all possibilities. Mr. Edwards could have been a real man, a composite of several men, a loose collection of memory fragments, or pure fiction."
I appreciated how Miller and Rushmore went down every rabbit trail they found. As I read Tennessee Wildcat, I felt like I was part of the research team--a bit frustrated with dead ends but fully curious to see the project through. Their writing style makes readers want to continue reading until they know the answer!

Tennessee Wildcat: On the Trail of Laura Ingalls Wilder's Mr. Edwards is the perfect book for fans of history and Little House. Truth isn't always easy to find. And I say that as a nonfiction author of 12 published books. 

I'm so grateful to Robynne Elizabeth Miller and J.D. Rushmore for dedicating vast amounts of time and energy to answer our question: Who was Mr. Edwards? Was he a real person? Was he really the neighbor Edmund Mason like some think? Was he a composite character like Nellie Oleson

When I wrote the Nellie Oleson blog post (linked above) about Miller's book titled The Three Faces of Nellie, many already knew Nellie was a composite character. This time, I want you to read the whole story and all of the research. There's no way I could conclude here in a paragraph all the details that went into Miller and Rushmore's conclusion. Read their book!

And in full disclosure, I want to let you know Robynne is a friend of mine. (No surprise. She's humble and funny and kind. We both write nonfiction and love Little House.) Below, Robynne and I were saying goodbye under a canopy of redwoods at the end of the Vision Christian Writers Conference at Mount Hermon. I highly recommend Tennessee Wildcat and would even if she was a stranger! 
For those wondering how I addressed the truth about Mr. Edwards in my book The Laura Ingalls Wilder Companion: A Chapter-by-Chapter Guide, I'm happy to share. My research for the entire book took place from 2014-2019--long before Tennessee Wildcat was researched and published. 

In chapter 6, I wrote, "...Though Mr. Edwards was an important character in the Little House books, some researchers think he is likely a fictional character based on a real person (or people). Others think a neighbor named Edmund Mason in Independence, Kansas was Mr. Edwards..." 

Have you already read Tennessee Wildcat? Tell me your thoughts (but no spoilers) in a comment! If not, add it to your wish list! 

Annette Whipple writes nonfiction books for children, including The Laura Ingalls Wilder Companion: A Chapter-by-Chapter Guide which includes history, discussion, photographs, and 75 activities so readers can "live like Laura." Learn more about her books and presentations at

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