Hamlin Garland

by Unknown

Hamlin Garland was born in the beautiful La Crosse valley, September 16, 1860, and lived there until he was eight years old. Twenty-three years ago he purchased the old homestead near West Salem, La Crosse County, and to this he delights to return each year for part of his summer. As one reads his description of the trip to West Salem over the Northwestern Line in his story, "Up the Cooley," he is compelled to see how much Mr. Garland loves the scenes of Wisconsin.

Among the other states which may share in the right to claim Hamlin Garland are Iowa, Massachusetts, Illinois, and South Dakota. In Iowa he learned what the rural school, the academy, and the farm could teach him. It was in the Boston Public Library that he formed much of his literary style and determined that the material for his future literary work should be the western life that he knew so well. In Illinois he began his work as a teacher and a lecturer. Here he met the girl who was to become his wife, Miss Zulima Taft, sister of the artist, Lorado Taft. Chicago is his present home. Mr. Garland visited his parents in South Dakota in 1883 and took up a claim there. Here he got material which he incorporated into some of his stories, among which the Moccassin Ranch is the most notable.

The experience in these several states gave Hamlin Garland an excellent opportunity to understand all phases of country life. He has expressed his observations in description of boys' games, the labor on the farm, the work of the rural school, and the varied activities of the rural community. He knew that the work of the farm in an early day furnished as much opportunity for the display of resistance and the determination to use the last bit of strength to win as does the game of the present. The work of binding the wheat after a reaper became a game requiring honesty as well as skill and rapidity. Perhaps no boy of today shoots a basket, makes a touch-down, or hits out a home run with more pride than did the youth of this pioneer life retire from the harvest field at noon or night with the consciousness that he had bound all his "tricks" without being caught once by the machine as it made its successive rounds of the field.

Hamlin Garland knew the joys of these contests on the pioneer farm, and he also knew the sordid side of the narrow and cramped life of the early settler. He describes both with equal vividness and sympathy. Wisconsin owes him much for the work he has done in preserving pictures of her early pioneer life. His hero and heroine are those ancestors who travelled forth into the new regions in covered wagons, and by the use of axe and plow conquered a seemingly unconquerable forest or a stubborn prairie sod. In his book of short stories, "Main Travelled Roads," he makes the dedication of it to his heroic parents in these words:

"To my father and mother, whose half-century pilgrimage on the main travelled road of life has brought them only toil and deprivation, this book of stories is dedicated by a son to whom every day brings a deepening sense of his parents' silent heroism."

To illustrate Mr. Garland's ability to picture the joyous and the irksome in the life of the pioneer two selections are given at this place. The first sets forth the joy of farm activity, the second, the disheartening influence of abject toil.

Hamlin Garland's parents were of Scotch Presbyterian descent and were strict in their management of their children, but their lives were most wholesome and they were withal companionable. Their sacrifice and toil have been rewarded by the response their son has made to the opportunities they could offer him.

Besides the rural school training at Burr Oak, Iowa, Mr. Garland received additional education at Cedar Valley Seminary at Osage, where he attended school during the winter seasons. He graduated from this school in 1881 and then for a year travelled through the eastern states. His people later settled in Brown county, Dakota, and he visited them there in 1883.

In 1884 he went to Boston, where he came under the influence of Professor Moses True Brown of the Boston School of Oratory, Oliver Wendell Holmes, William Dean Howells, Edward Everett Hale, and Edwin Booth.

Mr. Garland began his career as an author with the publication of his poem, "Lost in a Norther," in Harper's Weekly. For this poem he received twenty-five dollars. His work has been unusually remunerative. He has been a popular contributor to the Century Magazine, the Youth's Companion, the Arena, and other magazines. His first book was published in 1890. Mr. Garland enjoys social life and outdoor sports very much. He was the founder and is still the president of the Cliff Dwellers' Club in Chicago. He is especially fond of the outdoor sports of swimming, skating, and riding the trail on the plains and the mountains. The joy in this last is expressed in a poem which is given later.

Mr. Garland's publications include short stories, novels, essays, and poems. These book publications began with the short stories, Main Travelled Roads, in 1890. Since then have appeared Jason Edwards, 1891; A Member of the Third House, an exposure of political corruption, 1892; A Spoil of Office, 1892; Prairie Folks, Prairie Songs and Crumbling Idols, a series of critical essays, 1893; Rose of Dutcher's Coolly, a novel, 1895; Wayside Courtships, 1897; a Biography of Ulysses S. Grant, 1898; the Trail of the Gold Seekers and Boy Life on the Prairie, 1899; the Eagle's Heart, 1900; Her Mountain Lover, a novel, 1901; The Captain of the Gray Horse Troop, another novel, 1902; Hesper, 1903; The Tyranny of the Dark, a study in psychic research, 1905; The Long Trail, 1907; the Shadow World, another study in the psychic field, 1908; The Moccassin Ranch, 1909; Cavanagh, Forest Ranger, a study in forest preservation, 1911; Victor Olnee's Discipline, 1911; The Forest Daughter, 1913; and They of the High Trails, 1916.