“On the banks of the Wabash, far away”*

by chuckofish

“That month he developed the habit every night of picking up the Bible the last thing before he went to bed and reading a few verses, and from thinking a prayer and from thinking thanksgiving, he advanced to the place where he boldly, in the silence and serenity of the little room, got down on his knees and prayed the prayer of thanksgiving. Then he followed it by the prayer of asking. He found himself asking God to take care of all the world, to help everyone who needed help; to put the spirit and courage into every heart to fare forth and to attempt the Great Adventure on its own behalf… Then he arose, in some way fortified, a trifle bigger, slightly prouder, more capable, more of a man than he had been the day before. He had asked for help and he knew that he was receiving help, and he knew that never again would he be ashamed to face any man, or any body of men, and tell them that he had asked for help and that help had been forthcoming, and that the same experience lay in the reach of every man if he would only take the Lord at His word; if he would only do what all men are so earnestly urged to do–believe.”

― Gene Stratton-Porter, The Keeper of Bees 

Today is the birthday of Gene Stratton-Porter (August 17, 1863 – December 6, 1924) who was an American author, naturalist, and nature photographer.

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She wrote several best-selling novels–Freckles, A Girl of the Limberlost, and The Harvester–which are set in the wooded wetlands and swamps of the disappearing central Indiana ecosystems. She knew and loved these, and documented them extensively.  Her works were translated into several languages, including Braille, and she was estimated to have had 50 million readers around the world. Many of her books are still in print.

I have to admit I have never read any of her books, but I have always heard of them–especially The Girl of the Limberlost, which has to be one of the all-time best titles ever. Indeed, Stratton-Porter is one of Indiana’s best known authors and she really put Geneva, Indiana on the map by writing about the Limberlost swamp. Besides writing best-selling novels, she was an amateur naturalist who studied the bird life of the upper Wabash and recorded her observations. She was also a pioneer photographer, taking pictures of the birds she studied and loved.

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Stratton-Porter’s two Indiana residences, “Limberlost Cabin” in Geneva, Indiana

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and the “Cabin at Wildflower Woods” in Rome City, Indiana

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were both designated Indiana State Historic Sites in 1946 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. They are operated by the Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites Corporation as house museums.

She also had a honkin’ big house in Bel Air, California (she was in the movie business too), but I’m going to limit myself to exploring more of the Hoosier State. Road trip, anyone?

*Indiana state song by Paul Dresser