Every time I look at this picture of my great aunt, Mary Estella Pattan DeWitt, I marvel at just how much she looked like Karen Grassle…better known as Carolyn Ingalls of “The Little House On The Prairie” fame. Oh, I know it isn’t exact or anything, but I have to do a double take every time. I don’t recall an awful lot about my Great Aunt Mary, even though she passed away in 1996, giving me plenty of time to know her. And I did know her, but whenever the great aunts were around, so were a lot of other people. Everyone was talking at once, and there weren’t many times where you could just have a quiet conversation with someone, and I can’t guarantee that I would have had the forethought to ask her the right questions then. I was interested in the family history, but not to the degree that I am now.
Nevertheless, I believe that Aunt Mary was always a gentle spirit. Her soft face and features tell me that she was. I don’t believe that the word kindness was missing from her thoughts either. She just looks to me to be the type of person who loved everyone around her in a very special way, and I think she might have truly been a lot like Carolyn Ingalls was. I don’t recall if I ever ate any of her cooking, but she was pretty famous for it…especially her pies. Her husband, Clinton Paul DeWitt loved her choke cherry pies so much he would even pit the cherries for her so it was easier to get to have the pie. While Aunt Mary didn’t really live during the same timeframe that the Little House series was about, I have a feeling she very much could have. She was a gentle soul, but she was not a weakling. She was a strong woman, who built her life into what it was. She didn’t just expect that things would be handed to her, while she did nothing. She worked hard on making her house a wonderful and welcoming home to be in.
It’s funny how there can be people in this world who look enough alike to be sisters…even though they are not related and even years apart in age. That is what happened with my Aunt Mary. While there is no relation that I know of, she and Karen Grassle could easily have been sisters, or some other close relationship. Other people may not see the resemblance that I see, so I’ll leave that confirmation up to each of you. As for me, she will always look like Carolyn Ingalls in these pictures.