Thursday, January 7, 2016

Carl Sandburg: Speaking For America

Carl Sandburg in 1955                                                                             Library of Congress photo

Carl Sandburg was born in early January of 1878 in Galesburg, Illinois. When he died 89 years later he was remembered as one of the nation's most beloved literary figures, a poet, biographer, historian, novelist, editor, and folk singer. He was widely regarded as the voice of the American people, especially of the working men and women who built a new and prosperous nation out of dreams and sweat. In spite of his popularity, he was a family man at heart who loved the warmth and activities associated with his close-knit family consisting of his wife, Lillian Steichen Sandburg and their three children and their families.  By 1950, his most significant work had already appeared but he maintained a busy working retirement at his farm, Connemara, located in western North Carolina, where he produced about one-third of his total literary output.

Connemara has been preserved as the Carl Sandburg National Historic Site for about forty years.   During my career I was honored to work for several months with the staff and resources there and was offered the opportunity to manage the place in the mid 90's. As time and fate would have it I declined that offer thus preserving my sole family tie to Lillian and Carl Sandburg at Connemara, that being my late goat farming father-in-law and his business with with them and their award-winning Chikaming herd.

If you find yourself near Connemara and Flat Rock, North Carolina, a visit to the historic site would be time well spent. Penelope Niven's 1991 work, Carl Sandburg: A Biography, is an essential resource for those who want to know more about the three-time Pulitzer Prize winning writer and his family.

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