Back-Trailers from the Middle Border

Hamlin Garland
Back-Trailers from the Middle Border
By Hamlin Garland.
Member of the American Academy.
Illustrations by Constance Garland.
All rights reserved.
Set up and electrotyped. Published October, 1938.

The author assumes, he must assume, a personal interest on the part of
those who take up this volume, for it is the fourth and closing number
of a series of autobiographic chronicles dealing with a group of
migratory families among which the Garlands, my father's people, and
the McClintocks, my mother's relations, are included.
the first book to be written, is the first of a series in chronological order,
and deals with the removal of Deacon Richard Garland and his family
from Maine to Wisconsin in 1850, and to some degree with my father's
boyhood in Oxford County, Maine. He is the chief figure in this
narrative which comes down to 1865, where my own memory of him
and his world begins.

(2) A SON OF THE MIDDLE BORDER, the second number of the
series, is personal in outlook but continues the history of my mother's
family the McClintocks, and the Garlands as they move to Iowa and
later to Dakota and finally to California. The book ends in 1893 with
my father and mother returning to my native village, and the selection
of Chicago as my own headquarters.
(3) A DAUGHTER OF THE MIDDLE BORDER takes up the family
history at the point where the second volume ends and chronicles my
marriage to Zulime Taft, who naturally plays a leading role in the story.
The death of my mother and the coining of my two daughters carry the
volume forward. It closes with the mustering out of my pioneer father
at the age of eighty-four, and the beginning of the World War My home
was still in Chicago and the old house in West Salem our summer
and last of the series, I record the removal of my family to the East, a
reversal of the f anuly progress. As the lives of Richard Garland,
Isabelle Garland, Don Carlos Taft and Lucy Foster Taft embody the
spirit of the pioneers so their grandchildren and my own later life
illustrate the centripetal forces of the Nation. In taking the back-trail we
are as typical of our time as our fathers were of theirs.
The reader is asked to observe that only a small part of the material
gained in England has been used The method of choice has been to
include only those experiences in which my daughters had a share. Just
as in the previous volumes I have not attempted a literary
autobiography but an autobiographic history of several families, so here
I have used the incidents which converge on the development of my
theme To include even a tenth part of my literary contacts would
overload and halt my narrative. I mention this to make plain the reason
for omissions which might otherwise seem illogical. At some future
time I shall issue a volume in which my literary life will be stated in
My debt to Henry B. Fuller can never be paid His criticism and
suggestion have been invaluable, and I here make acknowledgment of

his aid My daughter Mary Isabel, has not only aided me in typing the
manuscript but has been of service in the selection of material In truth,
this is a family composition as well as a family history, for my wife has
had a hand in the mechanical as well as in the literary construction of
the book The part which Constance has had in it speaks through her

The Lure of the East.
WITH the final "mustering out" of my father, a veteran of the Grand
Army of the Republic, the strongest and almost the last bond attaching
me to West Salem, my native Wisconsin village, was severed. My
mother had been dead for nearly fourteen years and my brother, the
only surviving member of our immediate family, was a citizen of far
away Oklahoma. I now became the head of the western section of the
Garland clan.
The McCUntocks, my mother's family, were sadly scattered, only
Franklin, the youngest of the brothers, remained in the valley. One by
one they and the friends who had pioneered with them sixty years
before, had dropped away until only a handful of the original settlers
could be found. My home was in Chicago. Nothing now held me to the
place of my birth but memory, and memory had become but a shadowy
web in which the mingled threads of light and
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