Mr. and Mrs. Carl Sandburg

Flat Rock, North Carolina. That’s where we stayed during our recent visit to North Carolina. Specifically, we were at Lakewood RV Park in Flat Rock. It was the nicest, closest, affordable park, we could get close to Pisgah Forest where our oldest son, daughter-in-law and three granddaughters live.

Flat Rock has a national treasure in the former home of Carl and “Paula” Sandburg. This is one place we always visit when we come to visit the family. The Sandburg former home and farm is now part of the National Park Service.

I wanted to share a little about the Sandburg family since I find them very interesting.

Carl Sandburg’s parents were imigrants from the northern part of Sweden and settled in Illinois where Carl was born. The interesting thing is their name was actually August and Clara Johnson. When August went looking for work on the railroad, he discovered there were lots of people named August Johnson so he decided to change their name and chose Sandburg for their new last name.

Since the Sandburgs were very poor, at age thirteen Carl left school and started working odd jobs. At seventeen, as a hobo, he traveled to Kansas. While serving in the Spanish-American war, he met a friend that was going to Lombard College and convinced Carl to enroll there when he returned home from the war.

Sandburg worked his way through school and while there got his first payment for his writing which was his first volume of poetry, a pamphlet called Reckless Ecstasy (1904). Carl never did graduate from Lombard college but later did receive an honorary degree from there as well as a couple other colleges. He attended Lombard for four years. After he left there he began working as an advertiser writer and reporter for a newspaper in Milwaukee. While working there, he met and married Lillian Steichen. Given names didn’t seem to be too important to them since he decided to call her Paula.

Around 1912, the Sandburgs moved to Chicago and over the next few years his writing really started taking off and he was recognized as an accomplished writer and poet.

From childhood, Sandburg admired President Lincoln. For about 30 years, he studied and collected material about Lincoln. With all that information, he wrote a 30 volume biography of Lincoln. This decade also saw his writings of folklore, ballads and children’s books. These later volumes contained pieces collected from brief tours across America which Sandburg took each year, playing his banjo or guitar, singing folk-songs, and reciting poems.

In the 1930s, Sandburg continued his celebration of America with Mary Lincoln, Wife and Widow (1932), The People, Yes (1936), and the second part of his Lincoln biography, Abraham Lincoln: The War Years (1939), for which he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize. He received a second Pulitzer Prize for his Complete Poems in 1950. His final volumes of verse were Harvest Poems, 1910-1960(1960) and Honey and Salt (1963). Carl Sandburg died on July 22, 1967.

There is a place for me somewhere, where I can write and speak much as I can think, and make it pay for my living and some besides. Just where this place is I have small idea now, but I am going to find it.” Carl Sandburg

I think he found this place in Flat Rock, North Carolina. While living in Michigan in 1935, Lillian/Paula bought her first goat and began the research of the benefits of goat milk. Somewhere around that same time, they purchased their home and farm in Flat Rock and named it Connemara .

From 1935 to 1965 the dairy became a Grade A operation, with goat milk being distributed to local dairies and sold in stores around the community. Her goat breeding program produced champion goats and led to the improvement of goats as milk-producing animals.

Through the National Park Service and the efforts of their many volunteers the goat farm still is in operation today and with descendants of the champion goats, Mrs. Sandburg raised and bred.

Our granddaughters love to visit the farm because they get to pet, hold and love on the goats at the farm. Most of the time we visit, there are babies there. This time, there were 5-week old triplets, 3-week old twins and another set of twins just a week old. One doe was due to deliver the day we were there.

Below are some pictures of us with the goats as well as a picture of the Sandburgs and the farm.

This information is from the National Park Service website. You can visit it by going to https://www.nps.gov/carl/learn/historyculture/lilian-sandburg.htm

Connemara Goat Farm

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