Daughter Of The Middle Border
Publication Year: 2007
Published by: Minnesota Historical Society Press
Title Page, Copyright Page
Hamlin Garland (1860–1940) is remembered today chiefly for two books: Main-Travelled Roads (1891), an innovative collection of stories that sought to depict the actual working life of midwestern farmers, and his autobiography A Son of the Middle Border (1917), a remarkably honest and moving account ...
This change of headquarters was due not to a diminishing love for New England, but to a deepening desire to be near my aging parents, whom I had persuaded, after much argument, to join in the purchase of a family homestead, in West Salem, Wisconsin, the little village from which we had all adventured ...
1. My First Winter in Chicago
In a large chamber on the north side of a house on Elm Street and only three doors from Lake Michigan, I had assembled my meager library and a few pitiful mementoes of my life in Boston. My desk stood near a narrow side window and as I mused I could look out upon the shoreless expanse of blue-green water ...
2. I Return to the Saddle
To pass from the crowds, the smoke and the iron clangor of Chicago into the clear April air of West Salem was a celestial change for me. For many years the clock of my seasons had been stilled. The coming of the birds, the budding of the leaves, the serial blossoming of spring had not touched me, ...
3. In the Footsteps of General Grant
Among the new esthetic and literary enterprises which the Exposition had brought to Chicago was the high-spirited publishing firm of Stone and Kimball, which started out valiantly in the spring of ’94.The head of the house, a youth just out of Harvard, was Herbert Stone, son of my friend Melville Stone, ...
4. Red Men and Buffalo
Although my Ulysses Grant, His Life and Character absorbed most of my time and the larger part of my energy during two years, I continued to dream (in my hours of leisure), of the “High Country” whose splendors of cloud and peak, combined with the broad-cast doings of the cattleman and miner, ...
5. The Telegraph Trail
The writing of the last half of my Grant biography demanded a careful study of war records, therefore in the autumn of ’97 I took lodgings in Washington, and settled to the task of reading my way through the intricacies of the Grant Administrations. Until this work was completed ...
6. The Return of the Artist
After an absence of five months I returned to LaCrosse just in time to eat Old Settlers Dinner with my mother at the County Fair, quite as I used to do in the “early days” of Iowa. Itwas the customary annual roundup of the pioneers; a time of haunting, sweetly-sad recollections, and all the speeches were ...
7. London and Evening Dress
Confession must now be made on a personal matter of capital importance. Up to my thirty-ninth year I had never worn a swallowtail evening coat, and the question of conforming to a growing sartorial custom was becoming, each day, of more acute concern to my friends as well as to myself. ...
8. The Choice of the New Daughter
Although my mother met me each morning with a happy smile, she walked with slower movement, and in studying her closely, after three months’ absence, I perceived unwelcome change. She was not as alert mentally or physically as when I went away. A mysterious veil had fallen between her wistful spirit ...
9. A Judicial Wedding
On reaching my Elm Street home the next day, I was surprised and deeply gratified to find on my desk a letter from William Dean Howells, in which he said: “I am at the Palmer House. I hope you will come to see me soon, for I start for Kansas on a lecture trip in a few days.” ...
10. The New Daughter and Thanksgiving
At about half-past seven of a clear November morning I called my bride to the car window and presented to her, with the air of a resident proprietor, a first view of Pike’s Peak, a vast silver dome rising grandly above the Rampart Range. “Well, there it is,” I remarked. “What do you think of it?” ...
11. My Father’s Inheritance
At half-past six on the morning following our arrival at the Homestead, my father opened the stairway door and shouted, just as he had been wont to do in the days when I was a boy on the farm—“Hamlin! Time to get up!” and with a wry grin I called to Zulime and explained, “In our family, breakfast is a full ...
12. We Tour the Oklahoma Prairie
One of the disadvantages of being a fictionist lies in the fact that the history of one’s imaginary people halts just in proportion as one’s mind is burdened with the sorrowful realities of one’s own life. A troubled bank clerk can (I believe) cast up a column of figures, an actor can declaim while his heart ...
13. Standing Rock and Lake McDonald
It was full summer when we got back to Wisconsin, and The Old Homestead was at its best. The garden was red with ripening fruit, the trees thick with shining leaves, and the thrushes and catbirds were singing in quiet joy. In the fields the growing corn was showing its ordered spears, and the wheat was ...
14. The Empty Room
My father was a loyal GAR man. To him, naturally, the literature, the ceremonies and the comradeship of the Grand Army of the Republic were of heroic significance for, notwithstanding all other events of his stirring life, his two years as a soldier remained his most moving, most poetic experience. ...
15. A Summer in the High Country
My first morning in the old Homestead without my mother was so poignant with its sense of loss, so rich with memories both sweet and sorrowful, that I shut myself in my study and began a little tribute to her, a sketch which I called The Wife of a Pioneer. Into this I poured the love I had felt but failed to ...
16. The White House Musical
The Homestead on the day of our return, was not only a violent contrast to the castle in Glen Eyrie, but its eaves were dripping with water and its rooms damp and musty. It was sodden with loneliness. Father was in Dakota and mother was away never to return, and the situation would have been quite disheartening ...
17. Signs of Change
As a matter of record, and for the benefit of young readers who may be contemplating authorship, I here set down the fact that notwithstanding my increasing royalties, my gross income for 1901 was precisely $3,100. Out of this we saved five hundred dollars. Neither my wife nor I had any great hopes ...
18. The Old Pioneer Takes the Back Trail
In the midst of this period of hard work on Hesper, news of the death of Frank Norris came to me. Frank Norris the most valiant, the happiest, the handsomest of all my fellow craftsmen. Nothing more shocking, more insensate than the destruction of this glorious young fictionist had come to my literary circle, ...
19. New Life in the Old House
Meanwhile, Chicago rushing toward its two million mark, had not, alas! lived up to its literary promise of ’94. In music, in painting, in sculpture and architecture it was no longer negligible, but each year its authors appeared more and more like a group of esthetic pioneers heroically maintaining ...
20. Mary Isabel’s Chimney
No one who reads the lives of writers attentively can fail of perceiving the periods of depression—almost of despair—into which we are all liable to fall—days when nothing that we have done seems worth while—moods of groping indecision during which we groan and most unworthily complain. ...
21. The Fairy World of Childhood
One night just before leaving for the city, I invited a few of my father’s old cronies to come in and criticize my new chimney.They all came,—Lottridge, Stevens, Shane, Johnson, McKinley, all the men who meant the most to my sire, and as they took seats about the glowing hearth, the most matter-of-fact ...
22. The Old Soldier Gains a New Granddaughter
For nearly two years I did not even see the Homestead. My aversion to it remained almost a hatred. The memory of those desolate weeks of quarantine when my little daughter suffered all the agonies of death, still lingered over its walls, a poisonous shadow which time alone could remove. ...
23. “Cavanagh” and the “Winds of Destiny”
No doubt the reader has come to the conclusion, at this point, that my habits as an author were not in the least like those of Burroughs or Howells. There has never been anything cloistered about my life, on the contrary my study has always been a point of departure rather than a cell of meditation. ...
24. The Old Homestead Suffers Disaster
The summer of 1912, so stormy in a political sense was singularly serene and happy for us. The old house had been received back into favor. It was beloved by us all but especially was it dear to my children. To Mary Isabel it possessed a value which it could not have to any of us, for it was her birth-place ...
25. Darkness Just before the Dawn
In going back over the records of the years 1912, and 1913, I can see that my life was lacking in “drive.” It is true I wrote two fairly successful novels which were well spoken of by my reviewers and in addition I continued to conduct the Cliff Dwellers’ Club and to act as one of the Vice Presidents of ...
26. A Spray of Wild Roses
Although for several years my wife and children had spent four months of each year in West Salem, and notwithstanding the fact that my father was free to come down to visit us at any time, I suffered a feeling of uneasiness (almost of guilt), whenever I thought of him camping alone for the larger part ...
27. A Soldier of the Union Mustered Out
On my return to Chicago, I made good report of Father’s condition and said nothing of his forebodings, for I wanted Zulime to start on her vacation in entire freedom from care. Had it not been for my lecture engagements I might not have gone with them, but as certain dates were fixed, I bought tickets for myself ...
At this point I make an end of this chronicle, the story of two families whose wanderings and vicissitudes (as I conceive them) are typical of thousands of other families who took part in the upbuilding of the Middle Western States during that period which lies between the close of the Civil War and the Great War ...
Page Count: 352
Publication Year: 2007
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