For years I have seen the signs for Carl Sandburg’s birth place. A Historic Site, this December when on our way to the Amana Colonies, I prevailed upon my husband to make a stop. I was amazed at how much there is to see at this site. The birthplace home itself is just a three-room cottage located at 331 East Third Street. The home is quite modest where Sandburg was born on January 5, 1878. In back of the house is a Quotation Walk that leads to the Remembrance Rock Park. Below the rock both Carl Sandburg and his wife Lilian’s ashes rest.
Remembrance Rock was dedicated in 1966. At the dedication dirt from places associated with Sandburg’s early life and career was deposited. Dirt from his parent’s home in Sweden, Plymouth, Valley Forge and others were placed by children at the site.
The quotes leading down to Remembrance Rock are taken from Sandburg’s writings. One says, “It is something to face the sun and know you are free. To hold your head in the shafts of daylight slanting the earth, And know your heart has kept a promise and the blood runs clean: It is something.”
That segment was from the poem “Clean Hands” Smoke and Steel 1920 page 197.
Inside the visitors center is a film on Sandburg’s life and along the wall and on display stories that bring him and his works to life.
Born to hardworking Swedish parents he was the second of seven children. Working from an early age, he quit school after the 8th grade and worked at various odd jobs until he rode the rail out west in 1897. It was there on the prairie that he found some of the themes that would run through his works the rest of his life. I had not realized how many nature related writings Carl Sandburg had.
Coming back to Galesburg to serve in the Spanish American War, he then returned home to go to Lombard College, where he made connections that influenced his future writing career. This is just the beginning of Sandburg’s longlife. He would be a reporter, poet, socialist, husband and father and change the way we think with his writings.
Sandburg wrote poems, folk songs, books about Lincoln and children’s stories for his three daughters. How wonderful that in the town of Galesburg, you can go and see this fascinating stop.
Along with the home there is a driving tour that we didn’t take, but I would like to go back to and trace. Log onto http://www.sandburg.org/ to plan your own visit!