The Carl Sandburg Home in Flat Rock, North Carolina is perhaps one of the greatest historical treasures I have visited. This simple white frame farm house with adjoining goat farm on 245 acres was where this remarkable two time Pulitzer Prize winner lived with his wife and daughters from 1945 till his death in 1967. In 1968 his wife and daughters packed their suitcases and sold all to the National Park Association. What a gift they gave America. It is an entirely intact home filled with Carl’s worldly possessions. There are over 17.000 books, his clothing, typewriter, and even an intact kitchen. It is a unique snapshot of a life well lived.
Abe and the Pulitzers
Carl Sandberg was born 13 years after the Civil War in a town not far from Springfield, Illinois. Here he became enamored with Abraham Lincoln who he studied most of his life. He eventually created a six volume tome of Abe’s life which he whittled down to one volume. For this he won his first Pulitzer Prize. His next Pulitzer was for poetry, and he is credited as the only individual to earn two of these prestigious awards in separate venues.
Leaving school in 8th grade to help support the family he later prowled the states as a hobo working odd jobs eventually serving in the Spanish American war. From there it was a time in college where a professor encouraged his writing. He never finished that college degree but began to write and worked in newspapers for over 2 decades. His major interest was always in political concerns for the welfare of mankind.
Along the way he met a beautiful and intelligent woman who he convinced to marry him and had 2 daughters. Lilian Steichen Sandberg, besides sharing his interest in social reform also held many avocations. She was an avid farmer and award winning goat farmer. In these circles she is credited for changing the goat farming industry with her innovative ideas. Goats still remain on the farm for viewing and are gentle and friendly.
Carl Sandburg never stopped singing or writing throughout his life. He wrote long hours into the night often going to bed as Lilian began her farm work. Known to have a strong sense of humor he stated that writing was, “95% perspiration and 5% inspiration.”
Visiting The Property
Enjoy the visit and start with the movie where you will meet Sandburg’s granddaughter. Here she describes growing up on the farm and life with her famous grandfather. See the house, visit the goats, and take a walk on the property. It is a truly delightful experience.
In closing is a simple quote from Carl which sums up this remarkable American who gave so much to the world.
“…be careful, be careless, be what you want to be.”