Trip to Limberlost

I’d lived in Indiana for almost 20 years before I heard of Gene Stratton-Porter until I bought the Ideals book of author homes. She was one of the famous writers of her time and lived just a little over an hour away in Geneva, IN.

Limberlost State Historical Site

Her home is called Limberlost. Porter gave it that name, because the house sat on the edge of Limberlost swamp area. According to the Limberlost website, “In the early 1900’s the Limberlost Swamp was described as a ‘treacherous swamp and quagmire, filled with every plant, animal and human danger known — in the worst of such locations in the central states.’ Stretching for 13,000 acres the vast forest and swampland was legendary for its quicksand and unsavory characters. The swamp received its name from Limber Jim Corbus, who went hunting in the swamp and never returned. The familiar cry locally was ‘Limber’s lost!’ To famed Indiana author Gene Stratton-Porter, the swamp was her playground, laboratory and inspiration for her acclaimed articles, fiction and photographs” (http://www.indianamuseum.org/explore/limberlost).

Limberlost Cabin

Limberlost is a Queen Anne Rustic Log Cabin built in 1895. The following is taken from the pamphlet “Historic Geneva Walking Tour” sponsored by Geneva Proud, Geneva Chamber of Commerce, and by an Indiana Historic Preservation Education Grant. Limberlost was “built by Indiana author Gene Stratton-Porter and her businessman husband, Charles.” There are fourteen rooms in the cabin.

Porter's Desk

This is the desk where Porter did her writing. Here is a list of her writings:

 Novels

  • Freckles (1904)
  • At the Foot of the Rainbow (1907)
  • A Girl of the Limberlost (1909)
  • The Harvester (1911)
  • Laddie (1913)
  • Michael O’Halloran (1915)
  • A Daughter of the Land (1918)
  • Her Father’s Daughter (1921)
  • The White Flag (1923)
  • Keeper of the Bees (1925)
  • The Magic Garden (1927)

At Limberlost

For Children

  • After the Flood (1911)
  • Morning Face (1914)
  • Birds of the Limberlost (1916)

Poems

  • The Fire Bird (1922)
  • Jesus of the Emerald (1923)
  • Euphorbia (1923)

 Essay

  • Let Us Highly Resolve (1927)

Well

Nature Studies

  • The Song of the Cardinal (1903)
  • What I Have Done With Birds (1907)
  • Birds of the Bible (1909)
  • Music of the Wild (1910)
  • Moths of Limberlost (1912)
  • Friends in Feathers (1917)
  • Homing with the Birds (1919)
  • Wings (1923)
  • Tales You Won’t Believe (1925)

Amazed

What amazed me was how many movies were made from Porter’s books. The shelves in the first room of the tour were full of pictures from Porter in Hollywood with the actors and actresses in her movies. Her stories were among the first to be turned into movies. Here’s a list of the movies:

 

  • Freckles (1917)
  • Michael O’Halloran (1923)
  • A Girl of the Limberlost (1924)
  • The Keeper of the Bees (1925)
  • Laddie (1926)
  • The Harvester (1927)
  • The Magic Garden (1927)
  • Freckles (1928)
  • The Keeper of the Bees (1934)
  • Laddie (1935)
  • A Girl of the Limberlost (1935)
  • The Harvester (1936)
  • Michael O’Halloran (1937)
  • Any Man’s Wife (based on Michael O’Halloran (1937)
  • The Keeper of the Bees (1937)
  • Romance of the Limberlost (based on A Girl of the Limberlost) (1938)
  • Laddie (1940)
  • Her First Romance (based on Her Father’s Daughter) (1940)
  • The Keeper of the Bees (1942)
  • Michael O’Halloran (1949)
  • Freckles (1960)
  • A Girl of the Limberlost (1990)
  • City Boy (based on Freckles) (1993)

You can learn more about Limberlost on the Indiana State Museum Site and the Limberlost State Historic Site.

fence

We didn’t have time to make it out to the wetlands that day but I thought you might enjoy learning some of the history of Limberlost. Since it’s in eastern Indiana, some of its history is tied to the Indian wars led by General Anthony Wayne. The following history is taken from an issue of the Friends of the Limberlost newsletter.

 

  1. So-called Teays River forms during Sangamonian time.
  2. Wisconsinan Glacial davance 20,000 years ago closes river
  3. Glacier retreats – 13,000-acre swamp forms 10,000 yrs. ago
  4. American Indians call the area Loblolly

1790’s – Little Turtle Victory, then General Wayne Victory

1818 Treaty of St. Marys

1820’s Original survey

1820’s ? – Limber Jim is lost – given the area name Limberlost

1833 – Winchester Road divides the Limberlost Swamp

1850 Swamp Act – Limberlost survives

1860 Swamp Act – Limberlost Swamp is sold for $1 per acre

1888 – The dredge is build and the drainage project begins

1889 – Charles and Gene Stratton-Porter move to Geneva

1895 – Limberlost Cabin is constructed; Mrs. Porter begins to study the Limberlost

steps

steps

1900’s Gene Stratton-Porter books become known worldwide

1910 – The Loblolly Ditch is completed – big swamp drained

Thousands of acres opened for farming

Hundreds of wetlands remain in outlying areas

1913 – Gene Stratton-Porter moves from Geneva

1919 – Limberlost Cabin is sold to Dr. and Mrs. Price

1947 – Limberlost Conservation Association purchases Cabin

Outlying wetlands continue to be drained

1947 – Limberlost Conservation Association purchases 12 acre Bird Sanctuary to start a state park.

on property

1982 – Ken Brunswick began study of Loblolly Marsh

1990 – Friends of the Limberlost forms

1992-93 – Limberlost Swamp Remembered forms

1996 – 188-acre Loblolly Marsh is purchased

1997 – 240 acres are added to the Loblolly Marsh area

1998 – 38-acre purchase, Limberlost Restoration began

1999 – 152 acre area added to Limberlost

2000 – 324 acre area added to Limberlost

2000 – 4.37 acre area added to Limberlost

2000 – 26-acre Bird Santuary addition

2001 – 67 acres near Covered Bridge

2002 – 25 acres near Covered Bridge

2003 – 8.5 acres near Covered Bridge

100’s of acres were added over the next 6 years.

interior

The Indiana Department of Natural Resources Museums and Historic Sites began purchasing wetlands with Indiana Heritage Trust Funds in 1996. All properties were transferred to Division of Nature Preserves in 2003.

Limberlost Swamp Remembered was established in 1992-93 for the sole purpose of purchasing and restoring the World famous Limberlost Swamp located in South Central Adams, North Central Jay, and South East Wells Counties in Indiana.

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